His Impending Death

Jesus was “on the way” to Jerusalem with his disciples where he would be arrested, tried, and executed.               

Storm Winds - Photo by Lucy Chian on Unsplash
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Mark stresses Jesus is continuing “on the way” as he journeys to Jerusalem and his inevitable death. This theme occurs several times in Mark, beginning with John the Baptist who “prepared the way before the Lord.” Jesus was the suffering servant of Yahweh who was on the road from the wilderness to Golgotha - [Storm Winds - Photo by Lucy Chian on Unsplash].

The text adds a very apt description - they were “going up to Jerusalem.” The city was approximately 1,060 meters above the Jordan River valley.

The passage includes the third prediction of his death. In all three cases, Jesus made it while he and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem, and each time, he referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” Thus, Mark links this 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 passagesMatthew 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 led to the slaughter like a prisoner of war or a sacrificial animal. Instead, he pushed on in accord with God’s purpose, demonstrating his grim determination to fulfill his Father’s will.

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

His pronouncement emphasizes the coming complicity of the religious leaders of the Jewish nation in his trial and death, though the Roman authorities were also involved. Nevertheless, the high priest and his entourage were the catalysts in the whole sordid affair, though in the end, no one’s hands were clean.

The Greek verb rendered “handed over” (paradidōmi) means “to hand over, deliver up, betray.” This is a theologically loaded term in Mark, one that 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 to refer to his betrayal into the hands of those who were plotting his destruction.

Moreover, he used this same verb to describe how 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 perhaps better, they would not accept his predicted death, they also could not understand what he meant by the rising from the dead “after three days.” The concept of God sending His Messiah to be killed by his enemies remained beyond their comprehension.