When Jesus began to talk about His Cross, the Lord employed a very significant expression as He declared that He must suffer, be killed, and the third day be raised again. The whole of this statement is necessary to an understanding of the Lord's meaning. It is not accurate to say that His foretelling of the Cross was merely the result of spiritual intuition, and His must, the expression of a fine heroism by which He yielded to death. His was not the heroism of One consenting to be a victim, for He never spoke of the Cross without speaking of the resurrection which lay beyond. It was rather the heroism of a determined Victor who was moving through a dark and awful process toward a bright and glorious victory.
Jesus never spoke of the Cross without the resurrection; but when He first spoke of these He used this word must. Thus, He declared that it was necessary that He should go to Jerusalem. It was in the economy of His mission that He went. The Cross was no accident. On the day of Pentecost, Peter, in the Spirit, taught exposition of the Cross and said, "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Man's guilt was evident, but behind it, around it, overruling it was something mightier than man's guilt; it was God's grace.
The must of Jesus was not the outcome of His sense that circumstances were against Him. The must of Jesus was the expression of His sense that He was still working with His Father and cooperating with the purposes of God.
Adapted from The Teaching of Christ, His Saving Mission, by G. Campbell Morgan.