“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed ...” (Matthew 20:18-19)

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:18-19)

Did Jesus really say 'betrayed'?

The Greek word being translated to "betrayed" is παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi). This word primarily means, according to the lexicon, "to give into the hands of another." This could also mean, "to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death."

Neither of these definitions indicate betrayal. They indicate being arrested or turned over to be arrested. But betrayal is another thing altogether.

In other words, Jesus' real statement says something different, something like:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be arrested ...”

or perhaps:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be persecuted...”

This is important because Jesus was not forced under arrest. He knew in advance of going to Jerusalem that he would be arrested, as this statement indicates.

Why did he go to Jerusalem then, if he knew he'd be arrested, and then persecuted?

And why did he instruct Judas to go ahead and inform the high priest of his whereabouts?
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” (John 13:27)
Then Jesus waited to be arrested, he greeted the guards positively and chastized Peter when he tried to fight off the guards who arrested him.

These points - including the fact that Jesus could have simply not gone to Jerusalem, or he could have not waited on Mount Olive to be arrested, or he could have run off into the woods when he knew they were coming to arrest him - all indicate that Jesus was not betrayed so much as he was prepared to meet with his fate at the hands of the high priest.

Given that, Jesus also knew Judas would arrange to receive a ransom in return for arranging for Jesus' arrest. This was the betrayal of Judas. Jesus did instruct Judas to do what he was going to do. But he didn't instruct him to receive a ransom. That was an act of betrayal, and Jesus knew he would do this.

Jesus is the loving representative of God. In such a relationship, God can make certain facts about the future available to His loving servant. This is because it pertains to Jesus’ service to the Supreme Being:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)

Why is Jesus speaking of himself in the third person?

Why doesn't he say, "We are going up to Jerusalem and I will be betrayed ...?"

And what is a Son of Man? Isn't every male born in the physical world a son of a man - and therefore "Son of Man"?

The Greek phrase translated to “Son of Man” is υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The Greek word τοῦ means "of". The Greek word υἱός (huios) might indicate a relationship of offspring in another context, but in this context, we have to draw from the secondary meaning of υἱός (huios). This is, as taken from the Greek lexicon, "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower."

In this context, this relates to working for the welfare of another, or service. Furthermore, the Greek word ἀνθρώπου (anthrōpos) means "generically, to include all human individuals" according to Thayer's lexicon. This would mean that Jesus is putting himself at the service (or "following") of humankind, or better, humanity.

In other words, instead of "Son of Man," υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου should be translated more accurately to "Servant of humanity."

Furthermore, Jesus is referring to "Servant of humanity" in the third person because "Servant of humanity" is a role. This might be compared to the use of the word "General" in the military. Yes, there are specific people who hold this rank, but the rank is a role, not one particular person.

As such, there have been multiple people who have been called this role. David referred to himself as the "Son of Man" [servant of humanity]:
"O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the Son of Man that You think of him?" (Psalm 144:3)
David is obviously using this reference to himself from a position of humility. David is considering himself a lowly servant of humanity, and why should God consider him?

We also find that the Supreme Being addressed Ezekiel as "Son of Man" at least 60 times in the Book of Ezekiel, such as:
“Son of Man [servant of humanity], I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me." (Ezekiel 3:17)
In the same way, Jesus addressed himself humbly, as the servant of humanity. Yes, he was truly God's loving servant, but he was serving humankind as he taught God's message and tried to save people.

The reality is, all of the activities of Jesus were intended to please God and serve humanity. Even though Jesus knew he would be betrayed, mocked, and tortured, he still kept traveling to Jerusalem. He could have easily stayed away and kept his body safe. But he continued out of his love for God and his desire to please God (see also "thy will be done" in the Lord's prayer).

Did Jesus' murder cleanse our sins?

Some teachings suggest that Jesus' murder was so our sins would be forgiven. They claim that Jesus suffered on the cross so that we would be cleansed of the responsibility of our selfish actions ("sins"). That all we need to do is ceremoniously drink Jesus' "blood" and we don't have to worry about the consequences of our selfish activities, even if those activities include maiming or even murdering people.

Certainly, Jesus’ sacrifice has the ability to relieve our sins. But only to the extent that we have a change of heart. Only to the extent that we realize that Jesus' sacrifice exhibited Jesus' loving relationship with God and his commitment to pleasing Him.

In other words, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in his service to God. This is why, before his arrest, Jesus prayed:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39)
Jesus' suffering was about his relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the message of this event. It is not about our sins.

This has the ability to purify our consciousness - and thus can relieve us from self-centeredness.

How does this work? Let’s say that a man was put in jail for stealing. The man is sitting in jail because of what he did. But in many places, including the U.S., a man can be pardoned by a president or governor.

Such a pardon does not come easily. The jailed man can't just imagine he is pardoned. There is a process that includes the Governor's careful review of the situation. It also must come with some confidence that if the man is let out of jail he won't just go out and commit the crime again.

In a bonafide pardon, the person being pardoned should show evidence of being rehabilitated. If the man simply gets out of jail and commits the same crime, the Governor will be at least partly responsible. Therefore, pardons are typically not taken lightly.

What about the consequences of our activities?

The physical world was designed as a place of consequences. Self-centered acts that harm others will have consequences. These consequences range, and depend upon the harmful activity and whether it was done with an awareness of the harm it would do.

In other words, a conscious act that harms the body of someone else creates consequential harm against our body in the future.

Such consequences are not punitive. It is not that God is up there wanting to see us suffer.

Rather, this physical world is designed as a place of consequence in order to teach us. Consequences help teach us to love others. They help teach us to care about others and empathize with others.

Consequences are like walking a mile in someone else's shoes. They allow us to understand how it feels to be treated the way we treated someone else in the past. This allows us to grow.

This is also why there is so much suffering in the world. Many ask, "if God exists, why is there so much suffering?". There is so much suffering because we commit activities that cause the suffering of others, and suffer the consequences as a result.

Our bodies are bound to suffer the same fate we have inflicted upon others. This may take place during our current physical body, or it may take place in the next physical body (which is why some children are born into tough situations).

The bottom line is that the world is conditional: Where we go is dependent upon what we do. How we treat others. It is not as if we can harm people all week and then go to some ceremony and drink some wine and stare at a cross and be relieved of the consequences, only to go back and keep doing those things.

To use the sacrifice of Jesus in such a way offends Jesus and God. This is why Jesus said:
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:21-23)
Jesus calls them "evildoers" even though they were calling his name and even healing and teaching in Jesus' name.

Jesus' suffering can be purifying if we see the extent of Jesus' love for God and his commitment to God within this activity.

But this will not have much value if the person simply returns to their self-centered consciousness. Jesus' sacrifice was intended to show us that our relationship with the Supreme Being is more valuable than the life of the physical body.

Who or what will 'rise'?

Jesus' sacrifice and his appearance before his disciples after the death of his physical body was also meant to illustrate that we are not these physical bodies. We are the spirit-person within the physical body and we leave it at the time of death.

This is why Jesus uses the word "raised" here - translated from the Greek word ἐγείρω (egeirō) - meaning to "arouse" and "cause to rise."

What is rising? It is the life force - the living being who rises from the body at the time of death. This is what Jesus is referring to. (The Greek does not indicate the words "to live" in this verse - only "raised.")

And it is clear from the scriptures Jesus' physical body did not rise - rather, the spirit-person of Jesus rose out of the body that had been murdered. This is evidenced by the fact that Mary, Martha, and other close disciples of Jesus did not recognize him when he first appeared to them - on multiple occasions. If he had risen in his physical body, he would have been immediately recognized, especially by those who had been so close to him. Instead, we several verses indicating they didn't recognize him, such as this one regarding Mary:
... she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)
Jesus confirmed this reality that he - nor we - are these physical bodies in his teachings:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)
Jesus devoted his life to teaching about the spiritual value of the living being within and the need for us to dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Being. This is because Jesus had a spiritual relationship with God - a relationship that existed beyond the physical dimension.

He loved God, and his sacrifice illustrated the extent of his love for God and his commitment to their relationship.

Jesus also instructed each of us to re-establish our loving relationship with the Supreme Being:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)