First Reading: Psalm 22
Second Reading: Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verses 32-45
Focus Text: Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verse 32

“Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him”

INTRODUCTION

Last Sunday, there occurred what has come to be known as “Palm Sunday”, commemorating the time when the Lord Jesus Christ triumphantly entered Jerusalem as the King condemned to death. The Sunday after that, this coming Sunday, it will be what is known as ‘Easter Sunday’ — the third day after His crucifixion, the day that He rose from the dead. This is the first of a mini-series of ‘CyberSermons’ which I am currently preparing as ‘Easter Meditations’. In this first one, we are at a stage in the Gospels when the death of Jesus looms — it menaces, it threatens — and He gives His third major prediction about the things which would soon be happening to Him:

“As they were going up the road to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Again Jesus took the Twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him: “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn Him to death and will deliver Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him and flog Him and kill Him. And after three days He will rise again”.

Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verses 32-34

There are seven predictions in these verses, which I will open up further below. We will see that He was a Man with a mission and we will marvel at how He evoked fear and astonishment among His disciples.

I. JESUS WAS A MAN WITH A MISSION

Here they were, on their way to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way. Just imagine Him striding on ahead of them with only one purpose filling His entire being. They could hardly keep up. He seemed to them like a man obsessed – just one thing on His mind. We see this passion in a number of other places: “Now it came to pass, as the day of His ascension approached, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 9, verse 51). Can you imagine that? The look on His face! Gives me goosebumps. “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verse 50).

Jesus was a Man with a mission. He could not wait for it to be completed; and when it was, He cried out: “It is finished!” (the Greek there means, literally, “It has been accomplished”). What was it that had been finished or accomplished? The job that He came to do — to secure redemption for His people. Job done.

“When Jesus had spoken these things, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people, so that He may give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work You gave Me to do’”.

Gospel of John, chapter 17, verses 1-4

He had guaranteed salvation for those whom the Father had given Him — those whom He had loved from before the creation of the world. I want us to be quite clear here that this was not some half-hearted redemption which He carried out, in the vague hope that some might come to Him. No! His sheep will hear His voice — no doubt about that (Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 27). He was on a mission to save. His salvation is no uncertain thing. He has come to save His people from their sins. It is finished!

 That was the mission Jesus was now setting His face to Jerusalem to accomplish. He had a face like flint.

II. JESUS EVOKES FEAR AND ASTONISHMENT

Small wonder, then, that this superhuman determination should evoke such awe and amazement. “Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were amazed, and those who followed were afraid” (v.32). What astonishes them here is the sheer purposeful power of the Lord, and the fact that He holds in His hands His own destiny and that of the entire cosmos! Such power was tangible to them. Then Jesus took the Twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything the prophets have written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verse 31).

He was not just a passive victim of external circumstance. He was the Ordainer of these very circumstances which He has predicted! The Son of Man not only will go to Jerusalem, but He must go to Jerusalem! Absolutely. The whole of the history and the future of this universe depended on it. For if He had for some reason not gone there and not done what He had come to earth to do, the entire universe would have dissolved into nothingness. So the necessity of what He was about to accomplish is what could be read in His face.

III. JESUS PREDICTS HIS PASSION AND RESURRECTION

In fact, there are seven predictions in the words in our main text. The first prediction involves:

1. Betrayal

“The Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes”.

The extraordinary thing about this prediction is that it refers to the spiritual leaders of Israel. Think about that carefully! The Messiah who had come at first to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, only to be rejected by them. He was going to be judged by the teachers of the very law which He had given them! What irony.

The second prediction involves:

2. Condemnation to Death

 “They will condemn him to death”.

The “they” here refers to the spiritual leaders of the people. It is “they” who are going to do this terrible thing! You would have thought they would have known better. But then it is not very different in our own day. Jesus Christ is being systematically condemned to death by those who set themselves up as spiritual leaders of the visible church. He was going to be condemned to death by the “establishment Church” of His time (a process which was brilliantly described in “The Grand Inquisitor” section of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book, “The Brothers Karamazov” — see my piece https://diakrisis-project.com/2022/03/04/the-grand-inquisitor-and-christ/ ). Whenever spirituality wanes, an establishment church is born based on ritual, pomposity, false authority, religiosity, the dilution or even negation of truth, and wanton compromise. When an establishment church is made by human hands, vigilance for truth inevitably declines and the visible church becomes a ruin. This is where we are up to in our own time. One must always differentiate between the visible church and the body of Christ, the genuine Ekklesia. For that body is supposed to be counterculture rather than conformed to the (satanic) ways of this world.

I often wonder what many Churches would do if the Lord Jesus suddenly turned up for a few weeks! Do you not think that He would be rejected, reviled, and even crucified all over again? In Dostoevsky’s imaginary “Grand Inquisitor” scene, the Roman Catholic Inquisitor tells the Christ character, who has just ‘dropped in’ on the Inquisition, that his services are not required. The Inquisitor then reveals the dark secret that the Vatican has switched sides to Satan, and he says to the Jesus character:

“We have corrected your great work and have based it on miracle, mystery, and authority. And men rejoiced that they were once more led like sheep and that the terrible gift which had brought them so much suffering had at last been lifted from their hearts… Why, then, have you come to meddle with us now?… And would I conceal our secret from you?… Well, then, listen. We are not with you but with him: that is our secret! It’s a long time — eight centuries — since we left you and went over to him. Exactly eight centuries ago we took from him what you rejected with scorn, the last gift he offered you, after having shown you all the kingdoms of the earth: we took from him Rome and the sword of Caesar and proclaimed ourselves the rulers of the earth, the sole rulers, though to this day we have not succeeded in bringing our work to total completion”.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”, Penguin Books, 1958, pp.301-302

What do you think would happen to the Lord Jesus if He dropped in on the churches of today, or the White House, or number 10 Downing Street or the See of Canterbury? Surely, “They will condemn Him to death”. Actually, they have already done so, with the terrible way that they have distorted His deep spiritual truth into a shallow religious rationale which never reveals the meaning of repentance, and which gives the impression of a benign universalism. Churchianity. Then there are the wacked-out charismatic megachurches. How would they respond when He tells them that their tongues-speaking is just ‘vain repetitions’ and pagan babbling and that the so-called healings they practice are psychosomatic meddling. Yeah, it wouldn’t take long for Jesus to be branded as a dangerous heretic by so many of those who claim to be “born again”!

The third prediction involves:

3. Being Delivered to the Gentiles

“They will deliver Him to the Gentiles”.

This is more significant than many may realise. Handing the Messiah over to the “unclean” Gentiles was the ultimate degrading act. It was a sign of His complete rejection by His own people. “Early in the morning, the chief priests, elders, scribes, and the whole Sanhedrina devised a plan. They bound Jesus, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verse 1).

It is very significant, this handing over of Christ to the Gentiles. Listen to what Peter says to the people of Israel: “Jesus was delivered up by God’s set plan and foreknowledge, and you, by the hands of the lawless, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross” (Book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 23). The word translated there as “lawless” is anomos, meaning “without law”. It refers to the Gentiles, who do not recognise God’s law. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 11). And look what the Gentiles did to Him, as we see in the next predictions, for the fourth prediction involves:

4. Being Mocked and Spat Upon by the Gentiles

“The Gentiles… will mock him and spit on Him”.

This prediction of His in our text was fulfilled just as He said, as we read in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verses 16-20:

“Then the soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called the whole company together. They dressed Him in a purple robe, twisted together a crown of thorns, and set it on His head. And they began to salute Him: ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They kept striking His head with a staff and spitting on Him. And they knelt down and bowed before Him. After they had mocked Him, they removed the purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him”.

Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verses 16-20

To be spat upon was a sign of complete baseness, the ultimate humiliation. In the Middle-East it still is the sign of the greatest contempt. The Lord underwent every human curse imaginable. And this would not stop until the experience of the cross itself, which was the climax. He was bearing the full brunt of divine displeasure. Let’s just look at how that worked out in relation to being “mocked and spat upon by the Gentiles”. I want to go into this in much more detail here, for He was being utterly humiliated in His offices of Prophet, Priest & King.

The Lord Jesus was the consummation and fulfilment of so many elements of Old Testament ceremonial practices and offices. Apart from His fulfilment of the atoning sacrifice, the Old Testament Israelite offices of prophet, priest and king also all found their fulfilment in Him.

 First,

i. He was Humiliated in his Office as Prophet

The Lord Jesus Christ was the culmination of all the Prophets of God in the Old Testament era. He was THE Prophet to end all prophets. We see this prophesied in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 18, verses 15-16, when Moses said to the people:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to him. This is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God or see this great fire anymore, so that we will not die!’”.

Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 18, verses 15-16

That was a prophecy about the coming of Christ. Then in the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 1, verses 1-2, we read: “On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe”. He is the culmination of all the prophets and prophecy itself. Everything has its fulfilment in Christ. But in this hour of His humiliation, His office as the Prophet to end all prophets was reduced to ridicule: “Then they spit in His face and struck Him. Others slapped Him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit You?’” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26, verses 67-68). Yes, He was humiliated in his office of prophet.

ii. He was Humiliated in His Office as Priest

One of the plainest teachings about the Lord Jesus Christ was His role as the fulfilment and end of the Old Testament priesthood. He had come as THE high priest. “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 6). This extraordinary man, Melchizadek, was serving as a priest but he was not from the tribe of Levi. He was a type or forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ in His role as a High Priest.

“Such a high priest truly befits us—One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people; He sacrificed for sin once for all when He offered up Himself”.

Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 7, verses 26-27

Here, in the hour of His suffering and death, we see Jesus humiliated in His office of Priesthood: “And even Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked Him. Dressing Him in a fine robe, they sent Him back to Pilate” (Gospel of Luke, chapter 23, verse 11). This was plainly a shining white robe such as the priests wore. There He was being humiliated in His office as priest.

iii. He was Humiliated in his Office as King

Jesus was born in the succession of King David. This has to be seen in the light of the Lord’s saying to David: “Your throne shall be established forever” (Second Book of Samuel, chapter 7, verse 16). How could David’s earthly throne be established forever? Only if it would become occupied in a spiritual sense by an everlasting King. Sure enough, that was fulfilled, as we see in the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 8: “To the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom’”. As the Lord Jesus said Himself: “My kingdom is not of this world”. It is a spiritual kingdom.

Let’s go back in time to look at a little problem. Adam was originally ordained by God as King of the Earth, as His vicegerent, having delegated authority. But Adam’s disobedience led to Satan becoming the “ruler of this world” (cf. Gospel of John, chapter 12, verse 31; chapter 14, verse 30; chapter 16, verse 11). The reason that the Son of God came into the world was to “destroy the works of the devil” (First Letter of John, chapter 3, verse 8), and to take the phoney rulership of the world away from Satan and restore it to God. (N.B. This is not to say that the Lord was out of control, but that from a ‘legal’ standpoint Satan had usurped rulership from the Lord — a state of affairs which could obviously never last, but which was permitted by God for His own inscrutable reasons).

So, the Lord Jesus as He is man is King of the earth — the real ruler of this world. Obviously, insofar as He is God He is and always has been ruler of the universe. “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 25-26). It is very tempting to get into the mediatorial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ here, but we must leave that for another occasion. Here, in the hour of His humiliation, we see Jesus humiliated in His office as King. Just look at these examples:

 “They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And they twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt down before Him to mock Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spit on Him and took the staff and struck Him on the head repeatedly”.

Gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, verses 28-30

Mark adds: “bowing the knee, they worshiped Him” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verse 19), again showing how He was mocked and humiliated in His office of King.

Not only was He humiliated in all His offices but He also suffered via all his senses. He was bombarded with sufferings and humiliations, as we will now see:

iv. He was Humiliated via His Sense of Hearing

He had to undergo the sound of various people scoffing at Him. He had to experience His own people shouting, “Crucify Him!

v. He was Humiliated via His Sense of Sight

He had to look at the scornful, hate-filled faces staring at Him.

vi. He was Humiliated via His Sense of Smell

Golgotha, where He was crucified, was the place of dead people’s skulls. So there must have been a stultifying stench from the decaying remains of those who had been executed there.

vii. He was Humiliated via His Sense of Taste

He was offered vinegar mixed with gall to drink, which would have had an anaesthetic effect, which in fact he refused because He did not want to lessen the suffering.

viii. He was Humiliated via His Sense of Touch

He was repeatedly beaten and had nails driven into Him, etc.

So He was humiliated in all His offices and senses. Bombarded, if you will, with oppression and suffering in every respect.

The fifth prediction in our key text involves

5. Being Flogged by the Gentiles

 ”The Gentiles…will scourge Him”.

 Sure enough, He was scourged. Not once, but many times: “Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed Him over to be crucified” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verse 15). He was beaten (Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, verses 19 and 64), and “the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, verse 65). They also “struck him on the head with a staff” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 15, verse 15).

Think about this carefully. It is clear that He was beaten completely to a pulp, having been abused for many hours, exactly as prophesied: “His appearance was disfigured beyond that of any man, and His form was marred beyond human likeness” (Book of Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 14). Not only that but His beard was ripped from His face, exactly as prophesied: “I offered My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard. I did not hide My face from scorn and spittle” (Book of Isaiah, chapter 50, verse 6). And who knows what else the Lord Jesus suffered within that Roman garrison early on Friday. He was taking the full hideous power of satanic oppression on Himself, which I will enlarge upon in a later message.

While we are on this subject, think about this too: “Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison”. The whole garrison. This will have been anything between 200 and 600 men. I do not wish to be irreverent here, but we must be realistic when we think about what it meant to be handed over to an entire Roman garrison — especially when you know what kind of abominations the Romans were into, and you can imagine Roman soldiers, the rough underclass, let loose on a wayward young Hebrew of just thirty-three years old, on whom all their base instincts could be poured out for hours. Think about it. Think about it carefully. I will not spell it out, but this would be the ultimate humiliation. I do not draw attention to this in a gratuitously sensationalist manner. I simply want to drive home to you the depths of suffering of our Lord Jesus on our behalf. And He did not in the least bit shrink from it. He knew what was coming, yet He steadfastly set his face to meet it all.

Here we get a little more insight into the sufferings of Christ — not only beaten and spat upon (and heaven knows what else), but even having His beard pulled out too. For that to happen, He must have had parts of His face ripped off. How many of us could stand even that — never mind all the rest, and then being crucified, the most painful kind of execution imaginable.

Perhaps this is why the Scripture describes the Lord Jesus in the following manner: “Just as many were appalled at Him — His appearance was disfigured beyond that of any man, and His form was marred beyond human likeness” (Book of Isaiah, chapter 52, verse 14). That was the state of the Man who was raised up on the Cross. Imagine the sight on that Cross — something from which to shrink in fear of its hideousness, yet from whom one could somehow not take one’s eyes. Beaten to an unrecognizable pulp, abused beyond description, utterly bereft of any human solace, utterly alone, utterly forsaken. Meditate on that for a while.

The sixth prediction in our key text involves:

6. Being Killed by the Gentiles

“The Gentiles…will kill him”.

More on this in the upcoming messages during the next few days. But that “being killed” was not the end of the story, for the final prediction here involves:

7. Resurrection

“And on the third day He will rise again”.

One should never speak of the crucifixion without also speaking of the resurrection (and the resultant ascension!). It is a vital part of the Gospel (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 1-4) as I will show in one of my upcoming messages.

CONCLUSION

My friends, The Lord Jesus did not suffer like that because of anything on His own part. All that was for the sake of others, as I will elaborate in an upcoming message later this week. So how are you going to respond? Here is a man who died in the place of others, that they should escape from the futile enslavement to sin (moral failure) and Satan and not have to undergo a future in the awful state of “the second death”, separated from God forever. How are we going to respond? He says: repent and believe the Gospel. Give up the life that you have had since your birth, get down on your knees and humble yourself. Being a disciple of Christ is all about being humbled — humbled enough to listen to Truth when it presents itself.

In conclusion, let us remember three things when considering all this. First,

1. The Sovereignty of God

We have to remember that throughout all this business, whatever was happening, God was sovereign. All this was not some ghastly random tragedy unfolding against the will of God. It was being actually brought to pass through the secret hand of divine providence. The Scriptures repeatedly bear witness to this fact, e.g. “Strike the Shepherd… says the Lord” (Book of Zechariah, chapter 13, verse 7) and “Smitten by God… the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Book of Isaiah, chapter 53, verses 4-5). The Father did this to the Son, as had been agreed in eternity (see Gospel of John, chapter 4, verse 34; chapter 5, verse 30; chapter 6, verse 38; chapter 14, verse 31; chapter 17, verse 4; Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 9).

Pilate’s desire was to let Jesus go. He could find no guilt in Him. His own wife told him to let Him go. He could have done it. But Divine Sovereignty was pitted against him. As the believers’ prayer says: “In fact, this is the very city where Herod and Pontius Pilate conspired with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed. They carried out what Your hand and will had decided beforehand would happen” (Book of Acts, chapter 4, verses 27-28). When the Lord has determined to do something, woe to the person who tries to stand in His way!

Second, let us remember

2. Everything which the Lord Jesus Christ Suffered was Vicarious

That is to say, it was all about substitution — doing something in the place of someone else. He suffered chastisements which were due to us for our sins, and for which we should have suffered. As a result of this, “we havea peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Letter to the Romans, chapter 5, verses 1-2).

Finally, let us remember that fundamental rule of the disciple’s life:

3. Humiliation Always Leads to Exaltation

This is what I call “The Exaltation Paradox”. Just as Pride comes before a Fall, so humiliation comes before exaltation. This is the Lord Jesus’ darkest hour, culminating in the hideous cross. But that was just an introduction to the highest exaltation imaginable. It is the same with all those who are to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If they are serious followers, they must be broken — laid lower than ever before, till there is only enough left of their egos which is necessary to stay alive and grow without the twisted depravity of a God-denying, Christ-disowning, untransformed nature. Then He lifts you up to the highest heaven.

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[Coming tomorrow… “The Passive Obedience of Christ:
Why the Lord Jesus did not Resist Arrest but Welcomed it”].

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© 2021, Alan Morrison / The Diakrisis Project. All Rights Reserved. 
[The copyright on my works is merely to protect them from any wanton plagiarism which could result in undesirable changes (as has actually happened!). Readers are free to reproduce my work, so long as it is in the same format and with the exact same content and its origin is acknowledged]