Before the big events in our lives, we prepare. From the arrival of our first child, to their first day at school, we prepare them (as much as ourselves), to ensure the transition will go smoothly. Getting married is another big event requiring months of planning and preparation, as does moving house, and for some, downsizing. But what about the final stage of life – especially when it is coming and must come and cannot be pushed away or denied? Jesus faced the fact that he would die young – but for a reason, not a cause. (He is no anti-hero like James Dean.) In Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus preparing for the inevitability of his death.
On numerous occasions, he tried to prepare his disciples but they received this news with disbelief, even anger (Mk 8:31; 9:30; 10:32-34). They had a different idea in mind about their future with Jesus. It was one of glory, sitting on thrones next to him and ruling over the Israel (10:35-44). A few ‘got it’ though. They knew that not only death would come too early to Jesus, but it would be a violent one. A woman anoints him with fragrant oil as preparation for his death (Mk 14:3-9). Yet Jesus knew his death would be a meaningful one – and tried to prepare his disciples by taking the symbolism of the Passover Lamb, with its bread and wine, and applied it to his own (Mk 12-26). Jesus then tried to prepare Peter for his failure and denial (vs 27-31). Finally, in the brief time remaining, he sought to prepare himself in the quietness of prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (vs 32-42). His death is not too soon, or for a cause, but a reason: to die as our Passover Lamb, for our sins and to redeem us from death so we may be God’s treasured possession.