Skip to main content

Getting into Mark's Gospel

When you get the opportunity to teach from or about the Scriptures, the situation pushes you to get to know the particular book or passage of the Bible in an even greater way.  I am doing a teaching time coming up on the Gospel of Mark and have been utterly amazed at the message and teaching of Jesus throughout the gospel.  Generally in NT scholarship, the narrative is divided up between the 1:1-8:26 and 8:27-16:8.  The break in these sections is predicated on the idea that up to 8:27 Jesus is seen as a miracle worker, one who has authority over the forces of nature and one who calls his followers into a relationship with him.  The themes of both discipleship and authority permeate the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus garners authority through his power over the sickesses that ravage humankind (leprosy, paralytic, withered hand) and speaks as one who has authority.  The peoples amazement at his teaching as one who has authority is in direct opposition to those scribes who taught in the synagogues.  He did parrot the wisdom of past rabbis but spoke demonstrably about himself and the prophecies concerning the coming King.   Secondly, his teaching was authoritative for many because it was not blind to the concerns and trials of people in distress (physical, mental and spiritual).  He taught with authority and healed with the authority of a messenger sent by God.

The breakup of the gospel at Mark 8:26 is given due weight because of the change of Jesus' mission and message from this point on.  Up until this point, Jesus has not told his disciples about his coming sufferings, death and resurrection.  In rather cryptic fashion, Jesus tells the leper in Mark 1:44 not to tell anybody about Jesus cleansing his body, but rather go straight to the priest for proof.  As we see time and time again, people are so exuberant about the healing of Jesus that they shout it to the rooftops.  For Jesus to announce to those whom he heals to communicates of his power would be to draw unwanted attention, and would in turn speed up the opposition toward him, ending in a soon death.  Yet I think Mark 8:26 might be misleading to some because it fails to understand the welling tension or rather opposition to Jesus that happens prior to 8:26. 

Two events in Mark 6 bring to focus the rising tension between the message of Jesus and the surrounding witnesses, both Jewish and Roman.  Jesus went into his hometown teaching in the synagogue, the people surrounding him knowing of his family.  The interesting point is that though they were astonished at his wisdom, nevertheless they 'took offense at him' (6:3).  Unbelief was the charactertistic of their response.  Secondly, the death of John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod is another sign of the impending doom of the suffering servant.  If they will kill the messenger who points to the coming King, how much more will they put to death the King himself.  These reference however do not explicitly state what Jesus tells his disciples in 8:31 of his coming sufferings.  Yet, they point the reality that Jesus' coming shook the people surrounding Galille to the core, their response was not of a cavalier manner, but of great disbelief, anger, or rejoicing.  In other words, Jesus upset the whole social fabric, the whole order of belief and custom with both his words and his great deeds.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

The Paraclete Poetry Anthology, Edited by Mark S. Burrows

Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry.  Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head.  This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators.  You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others.  The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.

One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages.  One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection.  Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in.  She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to…