Mark: Jesus Predicts His Death for the Third Time

Read: Mark 10:32-34

Under the category of “Passion Predictions,” much has been written about the words of Jesus as He predicted His arrest, death, and resurrection plainly for the disciples to hear*.

I love the way John Mark intersperses the predictions in chapters 8, 9 and 10 (Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-35, 10:32-34). In my mind, there’s no doubt that he looks back and points out “those days” when Jesus told them, you know, the “told you so” moments that are so clear looking back.

The third and final time for this prediction is just after teaching on the cost of discipleship (again), a troubling lesson to say the least. Here we find the group headed for Jerusalem for the last time, though they probably still didn’t understand that at the time:

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Mark 10:32a

In verse 24, the disciples were amazed, in verse 26, even more amazed; now they’re astonished. John Mark is looking for adjectives to try and describe the looks on their faces, the head-scratching, as these young disciples try to figure out what is happening.

The disciples get a private audience, but the others following are afraid, fearful, filled with fear (depending on the translation you prefer).

Why are they afraid?

Jesus just dismissed a rich man, one who was no doubt known in the region as the guy that drives a new car every year, lives in the big house with perfectly manicured lawn, has the perfect wife and loving children. He follows all the commandments and falls at the feet of Jesus, but that is not enough. Those tagging along to hear the good teacher watch Jesus lovingly challenge the one guy who stands out among the crowd. What chance do I have if he isn’t good enough?

Their lives were defined by rules, following laws, a faith that was once rich in honoring God had become a faith by works theology. We fall into that same trap today. Perhaps that’s why we read about it so often throughout the Bible.

The disciples are beyond fear. They are committed, even though they’re not completely sure what they’ve signed up for. I love the fact that Jesus took them aside privately:

Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. Mark 10:32b

Away from the crowds and noise, Jesus sits them down to explain (again) what’s about to happen. He’s using words of betrayal, trial and execution which simply don’t make sense at the time, so I’m sure they still don’t get it.

…who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10:34

They’ve seen lots of opposition going from village to village, metropolis to small town, Jew and Gentile, surely that’s what Jesus is talking about.

We know the rest of the story. In hindsight they get it. So where does this leave us?

What is Jesus speaking to you over and over again? What is that voice in your head and heart telling you for the second, third, nth time that you are ignoring? Is there a trial just ahead for which you are not willing to let go of earthly rewards to enter?

Lord, it’s so hard to see in the moment, challenging to discern which way to turn. I pray you will lift us up to a place where we can gain insight, see the big picture, put the daily grind in perspective so we will make the right choice today. Give us clear vision for where we are now and where you want us to go next. Our desire is to follow. Light the way. Put us on the right path.


*Few interesting posts, among many:

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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