Passion Predictions in the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark identifies three separate occasions when Jesus foretold his passion, death and resurrection to his disciples. Each prediction was limited to the twelve. His future was part of the Messianic secret. They were told to tell no one.

The first occasion was Mark 8:31-32. This immediately followed Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, and it was immediately followed by Jesus’ rebuke of Peter who presumed to correct the Son of Man’s own understanding of his messianic mission.

The second occasion was Mark 9:30-32. This follows the disciple’s failure to cast out a demon where they demonstrated a failure of faith and precedes their argument about who would be greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus deliberately moves through the countryside of Galilee to avoid crowds so that he might have some private time with his disciples. But the disciples, as on previous occasions (cf. Mark 6:52; 8:21; 9:10), did not understand what Jesus was talking about. Further, they were afraid to ask for clarification. Perhaps they did not want to reveal their ignorance, or perhaps they did not want to know. When Jesus talked about death, they might have wanted to avoid the subject because they feared their own deaths. They would rather argue about who would be the greatest in thekingdomofGod—a much more pleasant topic, seemingly.

The third occasion was Mark 10:32-34. This prediction is sandwiched between Peter’s frustrated exclamation that they had left everything to follow Jesus and James and John’s request to have the right and left places of honor in the kingdom of God.

In each of these predictions, the disciples are in a very different place than Jesus.  The disciples are triumphalistic. They are dreaming of kingdom glory, places of honor and greatness. Jesus is facing the hard reality—he will be betrayed, suffer, and die. The predictions stand in immediate contrast with the disciples’ expectations. Their reaction is confusion, fear and avoidance.

Perhaps we learn something about ourselves in this. We much prefer the triumphalistic story. We prefer talk of victory rather than surrender. We prefer comfort over suffering. We would rather share our 10% than take up a cross.

When faced with the harsh reality of kingdom ministry, we become confused and afraid. We deflect and reinterpret (“it can’t mean that, can it?). We avoid the pressing issues of discipleship. We would rather talk about kingdom triumphs than suffering ministry.

The predictions of Jesus remind us that kingdom ministry is self-denial, taking up a cross and dying with Jesus. Only then do we save our lives; we only save them when we lose them.

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Below is a summary chart of Jesus’ passion predictions. The share the same substance: the Son of man, rejected by Jewish leaders, will be rejected, killed and raised on the third day. This is the basic summary of the messianic passion of Jesus. It is the story that Mark will expand from Mark 14-16.

 

8:31-32

9:30-32

10:32-34

Son of Man

Yes

Yes

Yes

Betrayed

 

Yes

Yes

Suffer

Yes

 

 

Rejected

Yes

 

 

Hands of Men

 

Yes

 

Elders

Yes

 

 

Chief Priests

Yes

 

Yes

Teachers of Law

Yes

 

Yes

Condemned to Death

 

 

Yes

Hands of Gentiles

 

 

Yes

Mock Him

 

 

Yes

Spit on Him

 

 

Yes

Flog Him

 

 

Yes

Killed

Yes

Yes

Yes

Rise Again

Yes

Yes

Yes

After Three Days

Yes

Yes

Yes



5 Responses to “Passion Predictions in the Gospel of Mark”

  1. Avatar of K Rex Butts  K. Rex Butts Says:

    Where have you ever heard someone try to spiritualize these predictions, saying that Jesus’ expectations of his disciples couldn’t mean that?

    With tongue firmly planted in cheek,

    -Rex

    P.S. Nice chart!

  2.   rich constant Says:

    john mark:
    “foretold his passion”
    john mark
    specifically
    what does his “passion” mean, how and why is that word used?
    another word i really don’t get.
    is this word’s meaning inclusive of the events leading up to the cross and the suffering of death,(separation) ?

    or is this word referring to the act of being rejected by the father on the cross, because he was to become “sin”(cursed)and be separated from his eternal partner, because of gods law?
    also for the purpose of the new covenant of faith not works?so making peace and the nullifying the law of commandments in decrees through his flesh?

    Eph.2:13-16

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