SYNOPSIS – Jesus was “on the way” to Jerusalem to suffer arrest, trial, his and execution – Mark 10:32-34.
Once again, the narrative of Mark stresses how Jesus was “on the way,” continuing his journey that would end in Jerusalem with his inevitable arrest, trial, and execution. This theme occurs several times in the gospel of Mark, beginning with the quotation from Isaiah by John the Baptist – “Prepare the way before the Lord.” Now, the text adds the very apt description that 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).
This is the third recorded prediction of his death in Mark. In each case, 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 the death of Christ – (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 about his death provides more details on the upcoming events. For example, just as Jesus now predicts, the “Son of Man” will be betrayed to the “chief priests and the scribes” – (Mark 14:41-53, 14:64, 15:1).
Jesus “was going before” his disciples. 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 lamb. Instead, he pushed on in accord with God’s purpose. This demonstrated his grim determination to fulfill his Father’s will regardless of the consequences – He 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 did not yet understand his messianic mission, Jesus had previously predicted to them his future sufferings at Jerusalem.
This pronouncement emphasizes the complicity of the religious leaders in the death of Christ. However, he was also handed over to the Gentiles. It was the representative of the Roman government who executed him although this was at the instigation of the Temple authorities. The Gentiles had shared guilt in his death. In the end, no one’s hands were clean.
The Greek verb rendered “handed over” (paradidōmi) means, “to hand over, to deliver up, to betray.” This is a theologically loaded term in the gospel of Mark. It was first used for John the Baptist when he was handed over to Herod – (Mark 1:14).
The imprisonment and execution of John were harbingers of what was in store for Jesus. Beginning with the first ‘Passion Prediction,’ this verb is used consistently in Mark for the handing over of Jesus for execution. Moreover, he used this same verb to describe how his followers would one day also 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).