Christ’s Imminent Death – (Mark 10:32-34)

Synopsis:  Jesus was “on the way” to Jerusalem where he would suffer arrest, trial and execution.

Examination by Pontius Pilate
Once again, the narrative of the gospel of Mark refers to Jesus who is “on the way,” treading his inexorable journey that ends in Jerusalem with his arrest, trial and execution. This theme occurs several times in this gospel, beginning with the quotation of John the Baptist’s from Isaiah: “Prepare a way before the Lord.” This paragraph adds that they were “going up to Jerusalem,” an apt description. Jerusalem was located approximately 1,060 meters above the Jordan River valley (Mark 1:2-3, 2:23, 8:27).

This is the third recorded prediction of the death of Christ in Mark. In each case, the prediction was made while Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem. In each instance, Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man,” thus, linking this title with his sufferings and 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 being 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).

This third prediction provides more details on the upcoming events that are recorded chapters 14-16 of Mark. For example, as Jesus predicted, the Son of Man was betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes (Mark 14:41-53, 14:64, 15:1). 
Jesus “was going before them.” He knew what lay ahead but pressed on, all the same, all while also leading his disciples “on the way.” He was not led to the slaughter like a prisoner of war or a herd of sheep. Instead, he pushed on in accord with God’s purposes. This reflects his grim determination to fulfill his Father’s will despite the consequences. Jesus allowed nothing to prevent him from completing his mission. 
The notation that those who were journeying with Jesus “were afraid” suggests they had some inkling of what lay ahead. While the disciples no doubt did not yet understand his messianic mission, he had previously predicted his future sufferings at Jerusalem. 

This pronouncement emphasizes the complicity of the religious leaders in the sufferings and death of Christ. But he was also handed over to the Gentiles. It was the Roman government that executed Jesus though this was at the instigation of the Temple authorities. The Gentiles had shared guilt in his unjust death. No one’s hands were clean in the end.

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

John’s imprisonment and execution were harbingers of what was in store for Jesus. Beginning with the first ‘Passion Prediction,’ the verb used consistently in Mary for Jesus being handed over for execution is paradidōmi. Moreover, Jesus used this same verb to describe how in the future his followers would also be “handed over” in like manner to suffer for the sake of the Gospel (Mark 13:9-12). 

As previously, 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).


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