Question: "How many times did Jesus predict His death?"
Answer: Jesus’ death was the final sacrifice that paid the debt of sin for all (Hebrews 9:28). His death was the ultimate purpose of His ministry. In fact, Jesus predicted His death at least three times in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and the book of John offers even more predictions.
The first time Jesus predicted His death is detailed in Matthew 16:21–23, Mark 8:31–32, and Luke 9:21–22. Jesus had just fed the multitudes, and He said that the “Son of Man must suffer many things” (Mark 8:31); be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes; be killed; and be raised again. Peter then rashly began to rebuke Jesus, and Christ responded, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:33; Mark 8:33). Jesus knew that His death must happen. It was necessary in God’s plan to save the world.
Jesus predicted His death a second time in Matthew 17:22–23, Mark 9:30–32, and Luke 9:43–45. This occurred shortly after the Transfiguration, when Peter, James, and John saw Christ in His heavenly glory. Perhaps this was the reason the disciples were so confused by Jesus telling them He was going to die. At this point, they believed His kingdom was just around the corner. Despite their lack of understanding, they were “afraid to ask” for clarification (Mark 9:32; Luke 9:45).
Matthew 20:17–19, Mark 10:32–34, and Luke 18:31–34 describe the third time Jesus predicted His death. He spoke to His disciples as they were heading up toward Jerusalem for Passover, and He told them how He would be mocked, scourged, crucified, and then rise again. On this occasion also, the disciples did not understand Jesus’ saying because the meaning was hidden from them. They would soon learn what Jesus meant in the events of Good Friday and following.
The Gospel of John gives a few more predictions of Jesus’s death, but they are slightly more subtle. For instance, when Mary anointed Jesus with the costly perfume, and Judas asked if she should have sold it for the poor, Christ said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me” (John 12:7–8). While not an explicit prediction like the previous three, this statement of Jesus clearly pointed to His coming death and burial. Again, in John 13:33, Jesus hinted that His time was short as He told the disciples, “Where I am going you cannot come.” Finally, in John 14:25, Jesus talked about giving the Holy Spirit in His absence, which hinted at His death as well as the future of the church.
Jesus intentionally came to earth to die for our sins. Jesus gave His disciples predictions about His death and the events that followed “so that when it does take place you may believe” (John 14:29).