Give it to me straight. Make it clear and easy to understand. Jesus did not always follow that formula. Often, he delivered veiled messages in the form of parables. Other times, and particularly to his disciples, he did tell the truth in plain language. Matthew 16:21 is a perfect example.
Jesus explained to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
There was no hidden meaning in his words. He simply let his disciples know all that was about to happen to him - what we know as the good news. The clarity of his words disturbed the disciples. They were dismayed at the thought of Jesus’ suffering and death. If you put yourself in their shoes, you no doubt would have felt the same way. Peter even took Jesus aside and rebuked him: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”
Their Messiah was not supposed to die. He was to conquer Israel’s enemies and then establish the kingdom of God. Suffering and death were not in that equation. But as Jesus said to Peter, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23).
Human concerns are too small to think beyond death to the reality of resurrection. For Peter and the disciples Jesus’s words, “on the third day be raised to life” did not register. Even after finding his tomb empty, instead of thinking that he was alive just as he said, they wondered who stole his body.
But here is the truth in plain language. On that third day, God raised Jesus to life. He delivered the fatal blow to sin and death. The life that was lost in the Garden was now restored through the resurrection. That’s why Jesus came - so that you might have life.
Jesus’ plain words troubled the disciples and filled them with grief. But their perspective was wrong. All that changed after God sent His Spirit to them. They saw the plain truth from God’s perspective. They wrote down the story so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30).