His Impending Death

Jesus explains that he is “on the way” to Jerusalem where he will be arrested, tried, and executed per the plan of God – Mark 10:32-34

Long Road - Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash
In the gospel of 
Mark, Jesus is “on the way” to Jerusalem and his inevitable death. This same theme occurs several times, beginning with John the Baptist who “prepared the way before the Lord.” The Son of God was the suffering servant of Yahweh who was on the road from the wilderness of Judea to Golgotha to meet his death outside the walls of the city - [Photo by Aldric RIVAT on Unsplash].

The passage adds a very apt description - they were “going up to Jerusalem.” The city was approximately 1,060 meters above the Jordan River valley.

The passage includes the third prediction of his death in Mark. In all three cases, Jesus foretold his death while he and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem, and each time, he referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” Thus, Mark links that title to the suffering and death of the Messiah.
  • (Mark 10:32-34) - “Now, they were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them, and they were amazed, and those following were afraid. And again taking the twelve, he began declaring the things that were going to happen to him, that, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles and they will mock him and spit on him and flog and kill him, and after three days he will rise up’” - (Parallel passages - Matthew 20:17-19, Luke 18:31-34).


Jesus “was going before” or leading his disciples for he knows what lays ahead. Nevertheless, he presses on all the same. He is not being led to the slaughter like a prisoner of war or a sacrificial animal. Instead, he soldiers on in accord with God’s purpose, demonstrating his grim determination to fulfill his Father’s will.

The disciples journeying with him “are afraid” suggests they have some inkling of what lies ahead. While they do not yet understand his messianic mission, previously, he has predicted his future sufferings at the hands of the Temple authorities in Jerusalem.

His pronouncement emphasizes the coming complicity of the religious leaders of the Jewish nation in his trial and death, though the Roman authorities are also involved. Nevertheless, the high priest and his entourage are the catalysts in the whole sordid affair. And in the end, no one’s hands will be clean.

The Greek verb rendered “handed over” or paradidōmi means “to hand over, deliver up, betray.” In Mark, this is a theologically loaded term that is first used when John the Baptist is arrested and “handed over” to Herod Antipas for imprisonment and execution - (Mark 1:14).

The betrayal of John is a harbinger of what is in store for Jesus. Beginning with the first ‘Passion Prediction,’ “handed over” is used consistently for his betrayal into the hands of those who are plotting his demise.

Moreover, Jesus uses this same verb to describe how, in the future, his followers will likewise be “handed over” to suffer for his sake - (Mark 13:9-12).

Cemetary sunrise - Photo by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash
[Photo by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash]

As before, Jesus refers to his rising “
after three days.” Mark reckons the three days per the Jewish custom of counting even part of one day as a full day - (i.e., Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday morning).


Since the disciples do not understand, or perhaps better, they will not accept his predicted death, they also cannot understand what he means by the rising from the dead “after three days.” The concept of God sending His Messiah to be killed by his enemies remains beyond their comprehension.

The use of the term “Son of Man” when describing his death reflects the passage in the book of Daniel from which this term is derived. In his vision, the prophet saw “one like a Son of Man” approach the “Ancient of Days” to receive his “dominion.”

But before the receipt of the “everlasting kingdom,” the malevolent figure known as the “little horn” made war “against the saints and overcame them.” Only then was the judgment made “for the saints” - their vindication - and so they “possessed the kingdom – (Daniel 7:13-21).

IDaniel, the figure of the “Son of Man” is virtually interchangeable with the “saints.” The war on the latter falls first on the former. He is the representative of the people of God. And implicit in the image is the idea of the “Son of Man suffering for his brethren so that they will receive the kingdom after the time of persecution and tribulation.



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