Death of the Son of Man

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is “on the way” to Jerusalem his death at the hands of his enemies. The theme of his inexorable journey is repeated in Mark, beginning with John the Baptist who came to “prepare THE WAY of the Lord.” He would complete his mission as the ‘Suffering Servant’ of the Book of Isaiah when he was tried by the priestly leaders of the Temple and faced death outside the walls of the City of David at the hands of Rome.

There is an apt description of his journey in Chapter 10 - 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 in Mark. As before, Jesus foretold his death while he and his disciples were on the way to the city.

Crooked Path - Photo by Aleksandr Kozlovskii on Unsplash
[Photo by Aleksandr Kozlovskii on Unsplash]

Each time he described his coming sufferings he referred to himself as the “
Son of Man.” In this way, Mark links this designation to his Sufferings and 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 ahead all the same. He was not being led to slaughter like a prisoner of war or an unthinking animal.

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

His pronouncement 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 become catalysts in the sordid affair. In the end, no one’s hands would be clean. Even his closest disciples would abandon him.

The Greek verb translated as “handed over” in the passage or paradidōmi means “to hand over, deliver up, betray.” It is a theologically loaded term first used when John the Baptist was arrested and “handed over” to Herod Antipas for imprisonment - (Mark 1:14).

The betrayal of John foreshadowed what was coming. Beginning with his first ‘Passion Prediction,’ “handed over” is used for the betrayal of Jesus into the hands of his enemies, and he used the same Greek verb to describe how his followers would likewise be “handed over” to suffer for his sake - (Mark 13:9-12).


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

The term “Son of Man” echoes the passage in the Book of Daniel from which it is derived. In his vision, the Prophet saw “one like a Son of Man” approaching the “Ancient of Days” and receiving “dominion” for his “saints.”

Before he received his “everlasting kingdom,” the figure identified 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).

The “Son of Man” figure is interchangeable with the “saints” in the passage from Daniel. 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 term “Son of Man” is that Jesus would die for his people. Only afterward would his followers receive the Kingdom. Hence, he would fulfill his Messianic role when he, as the “Son of Man” and the Suffering ‘Servant of Yahweh’ was executed and gave his life “as a ransom for many.”

  • On the Way - (On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explained what it meant to be the Messiah and the destiny of the suffering Son of Man - Mark 8:27-38)
  • Embracing the Cross - (To follow Jesus wherever he goes necessitates a lifetime of self-denial and sacrificial service for others and a willingness to lose all for the Gospel)
  • Son and Servant - (Jesus is the son of David and heir to the Messianic Throne, the beloved Son of God, and the Suffering Servant of Yahweh)



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