Why did Jesus talk about his death if the disciples didn’t understand until later?


Good afternoon brother Jeffrey,

I had a question regarding Jesus Christ and the gospel that he preached while he was still alive.

As I was reading the book of Matthew, and I was studying how Jesus was preaching the gospel. I know that Jesus preached messages that apparently people didn't understand. If the gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or at least in part, it is the main source of the Gospel -- the good news. Why would Jesus preach about his death, burial, and resurrection while he was still alive -- a message that people in that time period for the most part would not understand because not even his disciples understood until after his resurrection?

What was his gospel about while he was still alive?

And why would he preach something that not even his disciples understood in the time if his death, burial, and resurrection are a part of his gospel?


When something is spoken of in advance by God, it is a prophecy; though the word "prophecy" really means speaking the words of God. The fulfillment of the prophecy is evidence that what other things were also spoken were true.

  • "From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He" (John 13:19).
  • "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe" (John 14:29).
  • "These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you" (John 16:1-4).

The fact that the disciples didn't understand what Jesus discussed meant that they could not cause the prophecies to be fulfilled. But they understood later. "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." And they remembered His words" (Luke 24:6-8).

The fact that others didn't understand what Jesus meant prevented them from trying to keep these things from happening. "But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (I Corinthians 2:7-8).

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the core of the Gospel message, but these are not the whole of the Gospel.

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1).

The good news is that God came into this world. "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). His death and resurrection provided atonement for our sins. "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:9-10). Thus, God gave us eternal life through His Son (Romans 6:23). And the Gospel shines forth the glory of Christ (II Corinthians 4:4).

"Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).

The good news is also about the kingdom of God. It is exciting news that God has chosen men from every nation to be His special people (Isaiah 49:6-8). Paul saw it as a privilege to spread this precious message (Romans 15:15).

"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24).

Ultimately, the good news is that God gave us a gift of salvation. It is the gospel of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14).

All of these things Jesus taught while he was here on earth. It wasn't all understood immediately, but it changed the world.


Thank you brother, it makes sense now.

But I also want to understand what the scripture is saying, that mostly everything that Jesus' preached about were prophecies. Is that right? And that's why many didn't understand. So what exactly did the disciples also preached then, when they were sent out to preach to the cities when Jesus was still alive? I know they preached the gospel, but does that also mean they preached on the same prophecies that Jesus spoke off even though they didn't understand stand it? In other words, did they also preached something that they didn't understand?


"Prophecy" doesn't mean hard to understand. "Prophecy" actually means to speak what God told you to say. For example, Aaron was Moses' prophet, just as Moses was God's prophet. "Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land" " (Exodus 7:1-2). Now, God did at times speak about the future so that when we saw His words come to pass, we know that all that was said came from God. "Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it" (Isaiah 46:9-11).

Some of God's words, especially those concerning the Messiah, God purposely made obscure enough that it wasn't until after the prophecy was fulfilled that people realized that God predicted in advance that they would happen. Of course, that made people curious about what the fulfillment would be like. "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven -- things into which angels long to look" (I Peter 1:10-12). It isn't that the prophets didn't know what they were saying. They didn't when or how God was going to make these things happen.

The apostles' main job was to establish the church and their teachings included explaining the formerly hidden mysteries. "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles -- if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit" (Ephesians 3:1-5).


Thank you, brother, for the explanation.

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