Delivered up to Death

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explained to his disciples what it meant to be the Messiah of Israel. In the city of David, he was about to face his final confrontation with the Temple authorities which would end in his violent and unjust death at the hands of the Romans. Was not Jerusalem the appointed place where the prophets sent to proclaim God’s word to Israel were slain, where the Messiah himself must suffer rejection and death, according to the Scriptures?

The passage in the ninth chapter of Mark is the second of the three instances where Jesus predicts his death and resurrection. All three incidents occurred only after he began his final journey “on the way” to Jerusalem and his inevitable death.

Rugged Trail - Photo by Wojciech Celiński on Unsplash
[Photo by Wojciech Celiński on Unsplash]

As before, the disciples did not understand the real meaning of his words. The idea of the Messiah of Israel being killed by his enemies differed radically from the popular expectation, an idea that no patriotic Israelite could or would tolerate:

  • The Son of Man is to be delivered up into the hands of men, and they will slay him, and being slain, after three days will he arise. But they did not understand his words” - (Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:43-45).

The Greek verb translated as “delivered up” is paradidōmi, meaning, “to give over, deliver, betray.” While some take this to refer to his betrayal by Judas, more likely, it points to him being “handed over” or “delivered up” by God to his enemies who would be put to death, an outcome predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Gospel of Mark, paradidōmi is a theologically significant term.

The verb is in the passive voice, signifying that Jesus was acted upon. God was the one who allowed him to be delivered into the hands of his enemies. The same verb is used in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, for the “delivering up” of the Servant of Yahweh in the Book of Isaiah:

  • (Isaiah 53:6…12) - “The Lord delivered him up for our sins… Because his soul was delivered up to death, and he was numbered among the transgressors.”

Likewise, in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that Jesus was “DELIVERED UP by the counsel and foreknowledge of God.” The sin of mankind was the true cause of his death, for he died on behalf of all men to deliver them from the stain and bondage of sin - (Acts 2:23).

The trial and execution of Jesus would not exhaust this prediction. Just as their Lord, so his disciples likewise would be “delivered up” (paradidōmi) to “councils; and in synagogues, you will be beaten, and before governors and kings you will stand for my sake” – (Mark 13:9).

Despite his dire prediction, the disciples began to debate which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom. While Jesus described his mission as suffering for others, they measured “greatness” by grandeur, position, and political power. They continued to think exactly as the world did and still does.

SERVING THE WEAK


When they arrived in Capernaum, he found the disciples discussing which of them would be the “greatest” in the Kingdom. Jesus took the opportunity to instruct them. If anyone desired to be “first,” he must become the “least and the SERVANT of all.” He then took a child and declared, “Whosoever gives welcome in my name to one of these children, he gives welcome not to me, but to Him who sent me” - (Matthew 18:1-5, Mark 9:33-37, Luke 9:46-48).

The Greek word translated as “servant” passage is diakonos, the term from which the church derived the title ‘deacon.’ In secular Greek, it referred to persons who waited on tables, most often a slave - (Acts 6:1-5, Romans 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-12).

By embracing the child, Jesus demonstrated what it meant to become a “servant to all.” He did not use the child to symbolize child-like faith but to show that his “servant” embraces fellow believers who are insignificant if not marginalized – (Mark 10:42-45, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3-4).

Country Road - Photo by Wojciech Portnicki on Unsplash
[Photo by Wojciech Portnicki on Unsplash]

He concluded, “
Whosoever shall receive me does not receive me, but him who sent me.” He was and is the agent and designated ruler of God. To reject him was the same as rejecting God Himself.

Instead of fretting about their own positions in the Kingdom, the disciples should have concerned themselves with meeting the needs of the weak, the insignificant, the sick, the persecuted, and the outcast, and if necessary, they should have been willing to lay down their lives for the benefit of such individuals.

As Jesus put it in the Gospel of John, "No man has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friend." He went even further than this since he gave up his life not only for his friends but also for his enemies. Self-sacrificial service is what it means in real-life terms to be a disciple of Jesus and follow him wherever he leads.



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