How do you respond to Mark 14:13–15?

In planning for the Passover meal, Jesus tells his disciples, “Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

Defenders of the classical view of foreknowledge sometimes interpret this passage as meaning that the disciples would “by chance” meet someone who would “happen” to be carrying a jar and who would “happen” to take them to a house where the owner would by divine design allow people he never heard of to eat in his upper room. They thus argue that this text is evidence that God foreknows future free actions. Nothing in the text suggests such an interpretation, however.

The text implies that the man carrying the jar was expecting to meet Jesus’ disciples. The matter-of-fact manner in which they were instructed to talk to the owner of the house also indicates that the owner and his servant were expecting Jesus and his disciples to come at that time. In other words, the matter seems to have been prearranged by Jesus. Hence, the most simple interpretation of this passage requires no appeal to divine foreknowledge.

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