The Road to Jerusalem: Pt. 1 (Mark 10:32-34)

32 Then they began going up on the road to Jerusalem, and Jesus was leading them. And they began to be amazed, but those who were following began to fear. So taking the twelve again He began to say to them the things that were about to happen to Him:

33 “Pay attention! We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the high priests and to the scribes. As a result, they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will ridicule Him and spit on Him and scourge Him and kill Him. Nevertheless, after three days, He will rise again.” (Mark 10:32-34, my translation)

  1. The Road to Jerusalem is the Road to the Cross

We come to a crucial place in the Gospel of Mark: Jesus has set His face like flint upon the road to Jerusalem so that He can go to the cross and die for His people, then be raised from the dead on the third day.

The road (ὁδός) to Jerusalem is the way (ὁδός) of the Messiah which He must travel, because it is the path His Father has marked out for Him from all eternity to accomplish God’s saving purposes.

Verse 32 mentions that Jesus’ followers begin to fear this journey. Therefore, it is not the disciples who lead the way, but Jesus is the One who is leading (προάγων) this mission as He goes before them; the Shepherd will be slaughtered for the sheep. Those who follow Messiah are called on the same path: to deny themselves and carry their cross, in order to be obedient to the Father’s will (Mark 8:34-45).

Just as Jesus led these disciples on the road to Jerusalem, He will also lead us on the way to the cross for us to suffer together with Him as partakers of His death. Furthermore, our Pioneer who has been raised on the third day will also lead us on the way to resurrection glory and life: “But after I am raised up, I will go before you (προάγω) to Galilee” (Mark 14:28; cf. Mark 16:7).

  1. The Purpose of Mark’s Gospel: The Suffering Messiah

Our Lord makes explicit the purpose of this trip, which is inextricably linked to His identity as Messiah: to suffer and die, then be raised from the dead.  That is what it means to be the Messiah. As we have seen in our previous studies, the purpose of the Gospel of Mark is to show that the Messianic King must suffer first, then be exalted in the triumph of His resurrection. Jesus makes this the conversation of the journey:

“So taking the twelve again He began to say to them the things that were about to happen to Him.” (v. 32)

Jesus reiterated “again” what He had previously taught His disciples concerning the meaning of His identity as Messiah who must first be killed. This needed repeated because His disciples had so much trouble understanding it (see Luke 18:34). They could not conceive that the promised Davidic Messiah and Ruler would be rejected and murdered, for that would seem to be a failed mission. While the Old Testament Scriptures spoke clearly of the royal glory of the Messianic King (Psalms 2, 45, 72, 110; Isaiah 9, 11, Jer. 23; etc.), Jesus wanted to show His disciples that the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7:13-14 could not be exalted in royal glory until He first be crucified.

The content of Jesus’ words in verse 33-34 flesh out “the things that were about to befall Him” (τὰ μέλλοντα αὐτῷ συμβαίνειν), which were destined to occur:

v. 33: The Messiah will become a sacrificial lamb: ironically, “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the high priests,” because unbeknownst to them, these high priests will actually offer up the Son of God on the Cross, which God the Father had ordained to be the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!

-The Son of Man will also be given over to the scribes: Ironically, those who cared for and copied and interpreted and taught Holy Scripture, were about to fulfill Holy Scripture by putting to death the Author of Scripture.

– The Son of Man will be condemned (κατακρίνω) to death: The unjust condemnation that would befall Jesus in His trial by wicked human judges will be used by God to condemn (κατακρίνω) sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), so that we might never be condemned by the Just Judge Himself in His heavenly courtroom. “Who will condemn? Christ is the One who died – more than that, who was raised!” (Rom. 8:34).

-The Son of Man will then be handed over to the Gentiles: This is significant, because Israel was called “Son of Man” in the Old Testament (Ps. 80:14-17), and they were delivered over to the Gentiles in exile. But that was  the punishment for their own sin and disobedience. The ultimate Israelite, who had no sin, was about to be exiled from the God the Father in His death, so that His people would never be forsaken and abandoned by Him.

  1. The Suffering Messiah in Fulfillment of Isaiah 50:4-11

Lest the disciples’ understanding of Messiah was not based on all that the Old Testament had to say about Him, Jesus gives them the full Messianic picture by making a clear allusion to Isaiah 50:6. What is an allusion? While a quotation is an explicit citing of a verse from an earlier part of Scripture, usually verbatim, an allusion is “an intentional, implicit reuse of keywords”[1] or phrases from earlier parts of Scripture. Here is G.K. Beale’s definition of an allusion:

An allusion may simply be defined as a brief expression consciously intended by an author to be dependent on an OT passage. In contrast to a quotation of the OT, which is a direct reference, allusions are indirect references (the OT wording is not reproduced directly as in a quotation).[2]

Jesus uses a handful of thematic and grammatical parallels to the Greek Old Testament (LXX) translation of Isaiah 50:6 in His words to His disciples. In the diagram below, the grammatical parallels are underlined fully (where the same word is used), and the thematic references are in italics :

Isaiah 50:6 (LXX) Mark 10:33-34
‏My back I gave to scourges and my cheeks I gave to slaps. And My Face I did not turn away from the shame of spittings. But the Lord, the Lord has become My Helper. Therefore, I have not been ashamed, but rather I set my face like a solid rock, so I know that I shall never be ashamed. 34 And they will ridicule Him and spit on Him and scourge Him and kill Him. Nevertheless, after three days, He will rise again.”

 

 

Jesus does not just intend for His hearers to only think about Isaiah 50:6, but the entire context. While all the Servant Songs (Isaiah 40-66) are in view, it is worth mentioning a few things about Isaiah 50 in particular which Mark imports into His portrait of the suffering Messianic servant.

God’s people have been exiled due to their sin (Isai. 50:1), but He certainly has the power to rescue them (Isa. 50:2). Yet it is the Servant of YHWH who answers (He is called that in verse 10) and He begins to speak in verse 4, identifying Himself as One who has the ability “to hear” (לִשְׁמֹ֖עַ), which in the Hebrew Bible means to obey God. Instead of being “rebellious” (מָרָה) as Israel had been for centuries (Isa. 63:10; Hos. 14:1), this obedient Israelite would not turn back from His calling to suffer (Isa. 50:5). Even Moses and Aaron “rebelled” (Num. 20:24, 27:14), but this anointed Prophet-Priest-King has “set His face like flint” (Isa. 50:7; cf. Luke 9:51-53) to accomplish the Father’s task.

“They will ridicule Him”: In Mark 10:34, Jesus first mentions that He will be mocked or ridiculed (ἐμπαίζω) as His murderers will seek to put Him to shame. In Isaiah 50:5-6, shame is mentioned three times, but out of trust in His God, this Servant believes YHWH will not allow shame to be the end result of His sufferings.

What Jesus predicts in Mark 10:34 gets fulfilled when His persecutors “mock” Him by putting the crown of thorns upon His head (Matt. 27:29) and strip Him of the purple royal robe (Mark 15:20). These exact two groups of leaders (the high priests and the scribes) will fulfill Jesus’ words in this way:

So also the high priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; He cannot save himself.” (Mark 15:31)

“They will spit on Him”: When Jesus mentions being “spit” upon (ἐμπτύω), He is certainly referencing Isaiah 50:6 LXX which uses the noun “spitting” with the same root (ἔμπτυσμα). The mocking and ridicule of His enemies is connecting to “the disgrace of spitting” in His face (Mark 14:65; 15:19).

“They will scourge Him”: the next act of violence Messiah says He will suffer in Mark 10:34 is being scourged or whipped (μαστιγόω). The noun form of this word “whippings” is found in Isaiah 50:6 LXX (μάστιξ), as this servant will give His back to lashes.

After Jesus mentions the end result of these attacks is that “they will kill Him,” He goes on to say in Mark 10:34, “Nevertheless, after three days, He will rise again.”

Where does Jesus get the resurrection from Isaiah 50? In verse 7 of that chapter, the Messianic Servant trusts that YHWH will be His Helper, and in verse 8 specifically He believes that YHWH Himself will vindicate or justify Him:

“He who Justifies Me (מַצְדִּיקִ֔י; ὁ δικαιώσας με) is near, who will conduct a lawsuit against Me? Let us stand-up together. Who is the Owner of My Justice? Let him approach Me!” (Isa. 50:8, my translation)

The Name that the Messianic Servant gives to God is literally “The Justifying Me One.” It is striking that Jesus connects being vindicated and justified by YHWH to His resurrection on the third day (Mark 10:34). How so? Because His accusers falsely condemned Him to death (Mark 10:33), therefore God the Father raised Him from death to vindicate His Son’s law-keeping righteousness. But on a deeper level, it was God the Father who condemned our sin on Christ (Rom. 8:3). Since “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), death is for sinners. But Jesus is not a sinner. He died as a sin bearer. Therefore, after Messiah successfully bore the penalty of judgment and fully satisfied the wrath of God, the Father justified Him by declaring Him not guilty of death and raised Him from the dead. This is what Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:16: “He was justified by the Spirit.” Christ’s justification is different than ours. When the Father justified His Son at the resurrection, He was not imputing a foreign righteousness to His Son, accomplished by another. Rather, He was affirming the perfect righteousness His Son already had based on His obedient life as the Suffering Servant who fully “listened” (Isa. 50:4) to His Father, even to the point of death!

The words of the Servant from Isaiah 50:8-9 should sound familiar to us: God is “the One who justifies”…“Who is to condemn?” Paul also alludes to the Messianic Servant’s words in Isaiah 50:8-9 regarding Messiah’s justification; but Paul applies it to our justification and acquittal from the condemnation we deserve:

33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies (ὁ δικαιῶν·) 34 Who is to condemn (ὁ κατακρινῶν)? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Rom. 8:33-34, ESV)

Paul applies the justification of Messiah to the justification of all of God’s people, because he knows that the Servant Himself was “delivered over for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Christ our Federal Head was justified in His resurrection, and we are justified through our union with Him by faith alone! This means that if you have repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ, you are just as righteous as He is in the sight of God the Father! His justification, is the justification of all His people.

But through our union with Christ, we are not only justified. Our Lord calls us to walk on His road of self-denial and obedience—even in the face of persecution—as we are conformed to His likeness by His Holy Spirit.

Indeed, Jesus leads us on the road to Jerusalem, which is the road of obedient suffering. But this paves the way to the road of the New Jerusalem!

 

 

[1] Jonathan Gibson, Covenant Continuity and Fidelity: A Study of Inner-Biblical Allusion and Exegesis in Malachi (New York, NY: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), 41.

[2] G.K. Beale, A Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), 31.