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 and a violent and unjust death at the hands of the Romans. Was not Jerusalem the appointed place where the prophets were killed, where the Messiah himself must suffer rejection and death according to the Scriptures?

What follows in the passage is the second of the three instances in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. All three incidents occurred only after Jesus began his final journey to the city of 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 his warning. The idea of the Messiah of Israel being killed by his enemies was different than the popular expectation, an idea that no patriotic Israelite could tolerate.

  • (Mark 9:30-32) - “And from thence going forth, they were journeying through Galilee, and he was not wishing that any should get to know it; for he was teaching his disciples and saying unto them, 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 were not understanding the declaration and feared to question him” - (Matthew 17:22-23, Luke 9:43-45).

In the preceding passage, the Greek verb translated as “delivered up” is paradidōmi - “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” to his enemies by God, an outcome predicted in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The verb is in the passive voice, signifying that he was acted upon. Ultimately, God was the one who handed him over to his enemies. This is the same verb 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 - (Acts 2:23).

Despite his dire prediction, the disciples begin 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 power. They continued to think exactly as the world did and still does.


  • (Mark 9:33-37) - “And they came into Capernaum. And happening to be in the house, he was questioning them: What in the way were you discussing? And they were silent; for with one another, they had discussed in the way who should be greatest. And taking a seat, he addressed the twelve and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be least of all and servant of all. And taking a child, he set it in the midst of them, and folding it in his arms said to them: Whosoever to one of these children shall give welcome upon my name, to me gives welcome; and whosoever to me gives welcome, not to me gives welcome, but to him that sent me” - (Matthew 18:1-5, Luke 9:46-48).

The Greek word rendered “servant” is diakonos, the term from which the church derived the title ‘deacon.’ In secular Greek, it often referred to persons who waited on tables, usually 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 and innocence but to show that the true “servant” embraces fellow believers who are insignificant and marginalized. The point was in how Jesus treated the child – (Mark 10:42-45, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3-4).

Jesus concluded, “And 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 been concerned about 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 needy individuals.

As Jesus put it in John’s gospel - "No man has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friend." Jesus of Nazareth went even further than this since he gave up his life not only for his friends but his enemies as well. This is what it means in real-life terms to be his disciple.



Becoming His Disciple

His Kingdom