His Impending Death

In the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus “on the way” to Jerusalem and his death. This theme occurs several times in Mark's account, beginning with the Baptist who was sent to “prepare THE WAY before the Lord.” The Nazarene would complete his mission as the ‘Suffering Servant’ portrayed centuries earlier in Isaiah. He would be tried by the priestly leaders from the Temple, and face death outside the walls of the City of David at the hands of Rome.

In Chapter 10, we find an apt description of his journey - They were “going up to Jerusalem” – The city was over 1,000 meters above the Jordan River valley. The passage includes the third prediction of his death recorded in Mark. As before, Jesus foretold his death while he and his disciples were on the way to the city of Jerusalem.

Cross Dusk - Photo by Thomas Jarrand on Unsplash
[Photo by Thomas Jarrand on Unsplash]

Moreover, each time he described his coming sufferings he referred to himself as the “
Son of Man.” In this way, the Gospel of Mark links this designation to his death.

  • (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 to declare 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’” - (Parallel passages - Matthew 20:17-19, Luke 18:31-34).

Jesus was “going before” or leading his disciples for he knew what lay ahead. Nevertheless, he pressed on all the same. He was not being led to slaughter like a prisoner of war or an unintelligent animal.

The disciples “were afraid,” suggesting they had some inkling of what was coming. While they did not yet understand his Messianic mission, he had previously predicted his sufferings in Jerusalem.

His pronouncement as he approached the city emphasized the complicity of the religious leaders of Israel in his trial and execution. Though the Roman authorities would execute him, the High Priest and his entourage would be the catalysts in the sordid affair. In the end, no one’s hands would be clean.

The Greek verb translated as “handed over” or paradidōmi means “to hand over, deliver up, betray.” In Mark, it becomes a theologically loaded term first used when John the Baptist was arrested and “handed over” to and imprisoned by Herod Antipas - (Mark 1:14).

The betrayal of John was a harbinger of what was to come. Beginning with his first ‘Passion Prediction,’ “handed over” is used in Mark 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 his sake - (Mark 13:9-12).

BEWILDERED DISCIPLES


As before, Jesus referred to his rising “after three days.” Since the disciples did not understand or accept his predicted death, they also could not understand what he meant by the “rising from the dead.” The idea of God sending His Messiah to be killed by his enemies remained incomprehensible to them.

Ocean sunset - Photo by Raphael neo on Unsplash
[Photo by Raphael neo on Unsplash]

The use of the term “
Son of Man” echoes 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” approaching the “Ancient of Days” to receive his “dominion” for his “saints.”

However, before he received the “everlasting kingdom,” the figure known as the “Little Horn” made war “against the saints and overcame them.” Only then was vindication pronounced “for the saints,” and thus they “possessed the Kingdom” through suffering – (Daniel 7:13-21).

In Daniel, the “Son of Man” figure is interchangeable with the “saints.” The war on the latter fell first on the former. He was the representative of the people of God, and therefore, he suffered on their behalf.

Implicit in the use of the term “Son of Man” is that Jesus would die for his people. Only afterward would they receive the Kingdom. Hence, he would fulfill his Messianic role when he, as the “Son of Man,” was executed and thereby gave his life “as a ransom for many.”



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