Delivered Up

To follow Jesus means emulating his life of self-sacrificial service for others, especially to the weak and the insignificant

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus explained what it meant to be the Messiah. He was about to face his final confrontation with the Temple authorities, and he would suffer death on a Roman cross. It was the place where the prophets of old were killed, and where Yahweh’s anointed servant must endure rejection and death?

What follows in the next passage is the second of the three instances in the gospel of Mark where Jesus predicted his death. And all three incidents occurred only after he commenced his final journey to Jerusalem.

As before, the disciples did not understand his warning. The idea of the Messiah of Israel being killed by his enemies was something beyond their expectations and offensive to their sense of patriotism.


  • (Mark 9:30-32) - “And from thence going forth, they were journeying through Galilee, and he was not wishing that any should get to know it; for he was teaching his disciples and saying unto them, The Son of Man is to be delivered up into the hands of men, and they will slay him, and being slain, after three days will he arise. But they were not understanding the declaration and feared to question him” - (Matthew 17:22-23, Luke 9:43-45).

In Luke’s account, his words are said to be “veiled from them that they might not grasp it.” The very idea of a crucified leader was contrary to human wisdom and the messianic expectations of Israel - (Luke 9:45).

In his saying, the Greek verb rendered “delivered up” is paradidōmi - “to give over, deliver, betray.” While some take this to refer to his betrayal by Judas, more likely, it points to him being “handed over” or “delivered” to his enemies by God, an outcome predicted in the Hebrew scriptures.

This verb is in the passive voice, signifying that he is acted upon. God is the one who handed him over to his enemies to be put to death.

The same verb occurs in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, for the “delivering up” of the Suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah - “The Lord delivered him up for our sins… Because his soul was delivered up to death, and he was numbered among the transgressors” - (Isaiah 53:6…12).

Likewise, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that Jesus was “delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” The sin of mankind was the cause of his death, and he died on behalf of all men - (Acts 2:23).

Despite his dire prediction, the disciples began to debate which of them would become the greatest in the Kingdom. While Jesus described his mission as suffering for others, the disciples measured “greatness” by grandeur, position, and power. They continued to think as the world does.


  • (Mark 9:33-37) - “And they came into Capernaum. And happening to be in the house, he was questioning them: What in the way were you discussing? And they were silent; for with one another they had discussed in the way who should be greatest. And taking a seat, he addressed the twelve and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be least of all and servant of all. And taking a child, he set it in the midst of them, and folding it in his arms, said to them: Whosoever to one of these children shall give welcome upon my name, to me gives welcome; and whosoever to me gives welcome, not to me gives welcome, but to him that sent me” - (Matthew 18:1-5, Luke 9:46-48).

The Greek word rendered “servant” in the preceding passage is diakonos. The English term ‘deacon’ is derived from it. In secular Greek, it often referred to persons that waited on tables, most often slaves - (Acts 6:1-5, Romans 16:1, 1 Timothy 3:8-12).

By embracing the child, Jesus demonstrated what it meant to become a “servant to all.” He did not use the child to symbolize child-like faith and innocence, but to show that the true “servant” is one who embraces fellow believers who are insignificant and marginalized. The point is how he treated the child – (Mark 10:42-45, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3-4).

Jesus concluded: “And whosoever shall receive me does not receive me, but him who sent me.” He is the agent, the envoy, God’s designated ruler, and his ultimate representative. To reject him is the same as rejecting God.

Instead of fretting about their own positions in the kingdom, the disciples should be concerned about meeting the needs of the weak, the insignificant, the sick, the persecuted, and the outcast, and if necessary, laying down their lives for their benefit, just as Jesus was “delivered up” for the sake of all men.

As he puts it in John’s gospel - "No man has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friend." And the Messiah of Israel most certainly gave up his life for his friends as well as his enemies.


Language of the New Testament

Two Little Horns?