His Imminent Death

Jesus explained that he was “on the way” to Jerusalem to suffer arrest, trial, and his execution, according to God’s plan – Mark 10:32-34

Narrow Path - Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash
Once again, 
Mark stresses that Jesus was “on the way,” as he continued his journey to Jerusalem and his inevitable arrest, trial, and execution. The theme of his being “on the way” occurs several times in this gospel, beginning with the declaration by John the Baptist that he was to “prepare a way before the Lord.” Jesus was the suffering servant of Yahweh on the road through the wilderness to Calvary- [Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash].

The text adds the very apt description: they were “going up to Jerusalem.” The city was approximately 1,060 meters above the Jordan River valley - (Mark 1:2-3, 2:23, 8:27).

In Mark, this passage contains the third prediction of his death. In all three cases, it was made while Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem, and in each instance, he referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” In this way, the gospel account links the title to his death - (Mark 8:31, 9:31).
  • (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” his disciples, for he knew what lay ahead. Nevertheless, he pressed on all the same. He was not led to the slaughter like a prisoner of war or a sacrificial animal. Instead, he pushed on in accord with God’s purpose. He was fully aware of what would occur at Jerusalem. This demonstrated his grim determination to fulfill his Father’s will, regardless of the consequences.

The notation that those who were journeying with Jesus “were afraid” suggests they had some inkling of what lay ahead. While the disciples did not yet understand his messianic mission, previously, he had predicted his future sufferings at Jerusalem.

His pronouncement emphasizes the complicity of the religious leaders of the Jewish nation in his death. However, Jesus was also handed over to the Gentiles. It was the representative of the Roman government who executed him, though this was at the instigation of the Temple authorities. The Gentiles also had guilt in his death. In the end, no one’s hands were clean.

The Greek verb rendered “handed over” (paradidōmi) means “hand over, to deliver up, to betray.” This is a theologically loaded term in Mark. It was first used when John the Baptist was arrested and handed over to Herod Antipas - (Mark 1:14).

The imprisonment and execution of John were harbingers of what was in store for Jesus. Beginning with the first ‘Passion Prediction,’ “handed over” is used consistently for the betrayal of Jesus into the hands of those who were plotting his death. Moreover, he used this same verb to describe how, in the future, his followers would likewise be “handed over” to suffer for the gospel - (Mark 13:9-12).

As before, Jesus referred to his rising “after three days.” Mark reckoned 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 did not understand, or would not accept, the prediction of his death, so, also, they had yet to comprehend what he meant by his rising from the dead “after three days.”


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