The Gospel of MARK Welcome to Mark This is a chance to encounter the Gospel of Mark and a way to begin your encounter with Christian scriptures. The BIBLE can be both intimidating and intriguing. Finding a way into the scriptures needs a place to start. Mark is a good place for a beginning. Many denominations including the Episcopal Church make an extensive use of the scriptures in worship through the lectionary now presented as the Revised Common Lectionary. The Lectionary If you have attended services, you may have noticed that each Sunday service includes a reading from what Christians call the Old Testament, a Psalm, a readings from the letters of the Apostles, mostly St. Paul and a Gospel selection. These readings come from the Lectionary, which is ancient, but respectfully modernized to make it more accessible for more denominations as the Revised Common Lectionary. The selections are arranged in a repeating pattern over three years that track the seasons of the Church year, Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and followed by the long proper season. This study is arranged from the lectionary selections from Mark, but instead of the individual Sunday readings, it is presented in the order of the Gospel itself. The Irony of the short Gospel in a long format! The Gospel of Mark is short and to the point. This study is more than 340 slides long. The additional slides try to add context and explanations where needed. Those who heard this in the time of the early Church understood the background of that society. But, that sound strange to modern ears. The context and explanations come largely from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 2009 Edition and its footnotes and the Phemy Oxford Companion to the Bible (c) Oxford University Press, 1996. A copy of The New Oxford Annotated Bible as a reference while you work through this study will help in your understanding. The scriptures through Art Many artists have been inspired by the scriptures and interpreted them visually and through objects. An artist’s illustration is an interpretation of both the text but also the emotional experience of the Artist. Along the way we will present the art inspired by the passages being discussed as a way for you to see how others visualized the stories and incidents. Introduction to the Gospel of Mark Mark is the shortest of the four canonical Gospels and was almost certainly the first to be written. In Mark Jesus is depicted as almost constantly active. The Greek word for “at once” is used 40 times in 16 chapters. While like other ancient forms the author of this book was responsible for creating the literary category we know as “gospel.” It was intended to be read aloud. Author and Date Ancient scholars attributed this Gospel to Mark but as this was one of the most common names of the time we are still left to speculate. Early scholars identified him as "the interpreter of Peter“ indicating that the account is from Peter. One speculation is that this was Peter’s opening sermon to groups of potential recruits. Early scholars from the second century dated it as written between 65 and 70 AD. The only clue in the text is a reference to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem predicted in Mark 13. The same early scholars claim it was written in Rome. This speculation is supported by mistakes in Palestinian geography and about Jewish customs of the time. Now let’s encounter the text itself Mark 1:1-8 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: `Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'" John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:1-8 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." The Proclamation of John the Baptist It is interesting that the Story of Jesus opens with John the Baptist. Remember though this is not a history but a statement concerning God’s rescue of the world. All four Gospels start the ministry of Jesus at the time of his Baptism by John the Baptist who was His cousin. Only two of the four Gospels have a ‘birth narrative.’ While Mark and John start the ‘action’ with John the Baptist. John the Baptist John was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth both advanced in years. Zechariah was a priest of the Jerusalem Temple. Elizabeth was a kinswoman of the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth was believed to be barren, until an angel told Zechariah that Elizabeth would give birth to son to be named John. The apparent intention is to show that while John was a man sent from God that he was nevertheless subordinate to Jesus. John is a very important part of the story as even Mark the shortest and most direct of the Gospels devotes time. Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), St. John the Baptist Oil on panel, Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid John the Baptist John is intentionally described to resemble the Old Testament prophets. The reason of course is that Christians look to much of Isaiah to define the Lord’s chosen revealed centuries later to be Jesus. While there are not many contemporary writings to support the story of the Gospels and Acts, the contemporary historian Josephus, a Roman historian who wrote a few centuries later “comments that John the Baptist was highly regarded by the whole Jewish people.” The Nativity of John the Baptist This window from the Chapel at Christ Episcopal Church, Little Rock, depicts the Naming of John the Baptist and likely the Visitation. The old man shown is Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Zacharias and his wife, Elizabeth, along with Mary. After the birth of John the Baptist, Zacharias names the boy by writing his name as shown, and at that instant he could speak again. This scene is often combined with the Visitation when Elizabeth and Mary met. The Followers of John the Baptist Some scholars theorize that it was John and not Jesus that opened the way for those previously excluded from the Religious community. Others that Jesus was in fact a disciple of John at some point. Thus the careful statements of relative position in all four Gospels. It is further thought that John had an active following that persisted into the second century. Jesus in all four Gospels seems to ‘turn up the steam’ after the death of John at the hand of Herod. John was important to Jesus and so to us. Mark 1:4-11 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, John the Baptist Preaching, 1732-33 Fresco, 350 x 300 cm, Cappella Colleoni, Bergamo Mark 1:4-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Giovanni Bellini, Baptism of Christ, 1500-02 Oil on canvas, 400 x 263 cm Santa Corona, Vicenza Mark 1:9-15 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-15 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Theological Issue The reading deals with a ticklish question – if Christ was a person like all other persons, how could His experience be similar to ours, if He did not sin? Did Christ or could He Sin? An important issue to an age that believed suffering was the just result of sin. In Mark this aspect of Christ’s humanity and sin is accounted for in the Temptation. Leaving unanswered the details of Christ’s life in the 30 years before His public ministry began. The Temptation The temptation is a feature in Mark, Mathew and Luke. In Mark it is covered in a sentence. The other two offer more details as seen in this window from Christ Church. Mark’s Timeline Mark 1:14-20 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen. Mark 1:14-20 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Beginnings of Jesus' activity in Galilee Mark is itself a summary Gospel, it is short and to the point. Mark covers in three verses what Luke covers from Luke 3 to Luke 9. [Baptism to death of John] Today’s reading contains a summary of Mark. In a way the rest of Mark is an expansion of V 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” Disciple The term ‘disciple’ occurs many times in the New Testament, but only in the Gospels and Acts. It applies in some only to the 12 and in others to a wide range of followers. In Mark they are often negative examples – they don’t understand, and Jesus explains. In contrast Matthew shows them as teachers and examples. Jacob Willemsz. De Wet, the Elder, The Calling of St Peter and St Andrew, c. 1650 Oil on panel, 37 x 52 cm, Private collection James and John the Sons of Thunder James and John along with Peter formed the inner core of three among the twelve apostles. Outside the synoptic Gospels James, son of Zebedee, appears only in Acts in the upper room and as the second recorded martyr of the church. The Verse in Stained Glass The window from Christ Church Little Rock depicts the calling of the first disciples, Simon and Andrew. They are shown with nets and stepping out of the sea. In Mark 1:16-19. Mark relates that Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee saw and summoned Simon [Peter] and Andrew and later James and John the sons of Zebedee. Mark 1:21-28 Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Mark 1:21-28 Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching-- with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. Synoptic Both Matthew and Luke have a version of this incident in the life of Christ. Mark combines it with his first real appearance in a Synagogue. Matthew 8 Luke 4 Demons The English transliteration of the Greek word “daimon” referred to any of many vaguely defined spirit beings. The KJV translates each of several terms as devil. The RSV translates these words as Accuser or Slanderer - using the term “diabolos” as a synonym for “Satan” Remember for this and many other ‘specific’ words the Bible as we know it was written in several different languages, and translated into others. Demons? Old Testament Demons? New Testament The picture is different in the NT, references are more numerous and unified as a reflection of the Hellenistic and Roman cultures. Demons were viewed as evil by nature, obedient servants of Satan who is the ultimate adversary of God. Their power to deceive and torment is viewed as coterminous with “this evil age,” so that any restriction on their movements is viewed as an intrusion of a new age. Demons? And Jesus?? The authority of Jesus over demons was the topic of debate in that culture and time. Jesus first overcame Satan’s most persuasive offers in His temptation. This qualified him to begin
This qualified him to begin evicting demons from their human homes - blindness, deafness, paralysis, epilepsy, and madness. Jesus’ healings were a sign of Satan’s fall from heaven, God’s own intervention into human affairs and of faith in Jesus’ word. Detractors claimed it was a sign of the affiliation of Jesus with Beelzebul. Demons? And the Disciples! Jesus during His life shared with disciples the power over demons and after His death and resurrection they continued this work as well. The belief of the time was that demons primarily blinded and paralyzed human beings. Such Demons are forces external to human beings but which could capture humans. God’s word or faith could liberate one from Demons. After the death and resurrection of Jesus the Holy Spirit enabled his representatives to continue that work of liberation. This gift did not, however, make them immune to demonic counterattack . Demons And The Modern Era Modern Ears For most modern readers the discussions of demons and other events without rational explanations is a stumbling block. Are Science and modern thought in opposition to the scriptures? The answer is of course no. Had Jesus spoken to this audience in terms of germs, viruses or genetic issues they would have rejected such comments as irrational according to their world view. The Lord and His earthly manifestation Jesus spoke to the people around them in terms they could understand. The point is that Jesus extended mercy to those around Him in many acts of kindness out of love to relieve suffering. The story moves along Mark 1:29-39 Jesus left the synagogue at Capernaum, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. “Christ healing Peter’s mother-in-law” Mosaic in dome pendentive, Chora Museum, Istanbul (formerly a monastic church, mosaics date from a restoration in the 1300s) Mark 1:29-39 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. Mark Mark Form Context In Mark, Jesus is presented as in constant motion. The disciples, His family and others around him, despite healings, demons fleeing and other, to us, obvious signs, repeatedly fail to understand His identity. Preacher, prophet, healer/magician… In Mark this ‘misunderstanding’ will persist until the crucifixion and resurrection when they will understand that He was the son of God. Mark 1:40-45 A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. Text Context of the story line of Mark Mark’s Gospel is in constant motion. We get little context for this healing. Jesus swears the leper to silence, the oath is immediately broken. Jesus may have feared that a crush of people wishing to be healed would interfere with his message. In the following passage the healings lead to a confrontation with the scribes about the authority of Jesus to heal. Mark 2:1-12 When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? Mark 2:1-12 It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” A hint at things to come This healing has implications that are lost on the modern mind. First we react to the miraculous nature of the healing. The crowd, however, would have been convinced that illness was justly imposed by God for a sin committed by either the man or his parents. To the crowd the healing was an insult to God. Jesus understood this connection as He mentions healing and sin. Second, the Pharisees mention blasphemy, to us an insult certainly, but to the crowd a Capital Crime. The same for which Jesus will be tried in latter chapters. The first of a deepening cycle of accusations. Mark 2:13-22 Mark 2:13-22 More foreshadowing The person called Levi is of course Matthew known to us for his own Gospel. The point though is an important one. The wisdom of the day was that one should avoid sinners. The message of Jesus just as shown in the OT was that God’s love applies equally to sinners and righteous people. The wedding illustration was a traditional symbol of future fulfillment a time of plenty. The Bridegroom to be taken prefigures the arrest of Jesus that will come. The Gospel Mark 2:23-3:6 One sabbath Jesus and his disciples were going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, The Gospel Mark 2:23-3:6 and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. The Gospel Mark 2:23-3:6 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. The Gospel Mark 2:23-3:6 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Perspective The Sabbath and Hunger The incident with David is one where he had fled Saul and after a secret signal from Jonathan who knew that David had to get And stay far away from his father Saul. David had left in haste with no weapons or provisions for food. David asks the priest for FIVE loaves of bread that was consecrated and could not be consumed by any who had not abstained from women. David claims that he and his companions are pure, a fact one can doubt. In addition to the food they also took the sword of Goliath also stored by the alter. The point was that even David would bend the rules when needed. Sabbath Issues The issues may have been harvesting and traveling on the Sabbath. One can suppose that the wealthy might have had food gathered for the Sabbath day and the poor who could not travel or gather would have to go hungry. The Sabbath was a gift of a day of rest by God, not a reason for suffering or hunger. Healing on the Sabbath The larger point for us, now Even a good thing, such as a day of rest when taken to extremes can destroy the original benefit. Humans have a natural tendency to try to out do each other in piety. Jesus always chose kindness over piety. What must he think of us today. Christ heals the man with a withered hand, 14th century mosaic, Kariye Camii, Istanbul, Turkey Mark 3:20-35 The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind." And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons." And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? Mark 3:20-35 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. Mark 3:20-35 "Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" -- for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit." Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. Mark 3:20-35 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." The back drop to the reading The Controversy The authorities seek to undermine Jesus by equating his statements with insanity, which in that age meant Satan or other demonic forces. The logical fallacy is that as He casts out demons, again as they understood the situation, how or why would He harm those who the authorities claimed were His allies. The refutation is that Jesus frees the innocent from the demonic and by standing against evil, proves that He represents good. While modern eyes miss this nuance. Those present understood in the vernacular of their own day. Having lost this round, the authorities become even more alarmed. Mark 4:26-34 Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come." Mark 4:26-34 He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." Mark 4:26-34 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. Context This is early in the ministry of Jesus – he has been healing and the Disciples have just been selected. The people gather on a sea shore to hear Jesus address the crowd. Jesus has been speaking to the crowd only in parables, which He explains to the 12. The Text Both Parables are about the Kingdom of God. The first is entitled “The seed growing secretly” its meaning is that the growth of God's kingdom in the world is beyond human understanding or control. Yet people may recognize its progress and play a part in it. The mustard seed – is another example of something from a small beginning reaching great potential. OT / NT Tie In Interesting, what does this mean to us? Jesus illustrates that any act of kindness or good, even an embarrassingly modest one, is a worthy gesture. As an ordinary person of the modern era, we see that we can’t know how any good act even a modest one may play out for the greater good. Jean François Millet, The Sower, 1850 Oil on canvas, 40 x 32 1/2 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Vincent van Gogh, The Sower, 1888 Oil on Canvas, 13x16“ Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam Mark 4:35-41 When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; Mark 4:35-41 and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" The Gospels The life of Jesus given to us principally in the form of the four Gospels. The traditional Order is Matthew Mark Luke and John Scholars now say that Mark was actually the first to be written down. Mark, Matthew and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels. John also called the Fourth Gospel stands alone. The Gospels – Sources of Information The three ‘synoptic’ Gospels seem to follow a similar timeline. The fourth Gospel, of John uses a different timeline. There were individual stories about Jesus, pronouncement stories, miracle stories, parables, and aphorisms circulated in oral tradition for some forty years before Mark first wrote them down. Matthew and Luke then used Mark and another pre-Gospel oral collection now lost to us called source Q. Order Consistency! Even though different the Synoptic Gospels and John are in some ways consistent. In ALL FOUR Gospels, shortly after Jesus establishes the 12, this extraordinary event transpires…. Jesus while human does something that’s completely beyond the laws of nature – like God of the whirlwind he controls nature!! Jan Brueghel the Elder, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, c. 1596 Oil on copper, 27 x 35 cm Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid Mark 5:21-43 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." He went with him. Mark 5:21-43 And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Mark 5:21-43 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, `Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:21-43 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? Mark 5:21-43 The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Christ as Healer In the Stained glass in Christ Church Little Rock, illustrates the incident from Mark 5:21-43. The main event concerning the child of Jarius is shown in the main section. The secondary healing along the way is shown in the lower section. Healings Healings by others What Should we get from Miracles? We can’t from this distance ever prove or disprove His miracles. The point is that we know from them of His concern for us and our families. Those actually present believed, those who saw these events later went out and made great sacrifices based on what they experienced. That’s the point they are our witnesses and their actions are the proof we are given. Paolo Veronese, Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, c. 1546 Oil on paper mounted on canvas, 42 x 37 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris (sketch for a lost painting) Mark 6:1-13 Jesus left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” Mark 6:1-13 And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. Mark 6:1-13 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. Synoptic Minute at Nazareth The Trial Run Of The Twelve Why are these two incidents together in Mark Jesus’ rejection at home is in all three Synoptic Gospels, as is the sending of the twelve. But, not in the same order and the events are also widely separated. Perhaps Mark was offering a prefiguring of the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish authorities and the growth of the Church among the gentiles? In both there is an example of how to deal with rejection, of Jesus and then for the disciples. The Seventy In Mark, Matthew and Luke, the incident regarding the sending of the 12 is related. In Luke 10:1-12 there is a second similar event in which 70 followers are sent out. The second event is not in Mark or Matthew, but Matthew does also report the same commissioning statement[Luke 10:2] “He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few’” Matthew 9:35 but in a completely different context. The immaculate Conception? Mark 6:3 “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” Four Brothers and more than one Sister? It is natural for us to venerate Mary the mother of Jesus. We want to read our bias on to her. But from this we know that she may have had a normal and happy life with children she loved. This does not diminish her, she was like we are and yet still was obedient when it counted. A person to be admired and imitated. A person whose veneration is very well deserved! Immaculate Misconception Francisque Millet, Landscape with Christ and His Disciples, 17th c. Oil on canvas, 99 x 133 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg Millet (not to be confused with 19th c. painters J. F. Millet and John Millais) is an artist about whom little is known. He was a follower of Poussin’s classical landscape tradition. The composition is general, not specific to a particular Biblical passage. Mark 6:14-29 King Herod heard of the demons cast out and the many who were anointed and cured, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” Mark 6:14-29 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. Mark 6:14-29 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. John the Baptist The Baptist was an extremely important figure in the time of Jesus. He is reported by the historian Josephus as “highly regarded by the whole Jewish people.” John attracted common people, tax collectors and prostitutes. The act of immersion, unlike circumcision, made salvation accessible even to women. John and not Jesus opened a way to God for those who before had felt themselves excluded. His dress and diet placed in the mode of an OT prophet virtually everything recorded of John had parallels in Isaiah Activity of John the Baptist The Central Crisis To this point Jesus has been engaged in His Galilean ministry. But, now Jesus will start to move from the outlands to Jerusalem. One of the motivating factors is thought to be the death of John the Baptist, which may have made Jesus fear that Herod Antipas might arrest him before he could challenge the authorities in Jerusalem . The change is shown by: The feeding of the multitude followed by a withdrawal from the crowds, a crossing of the lake, and a period of solitary communication with his disciples The Transfiguration It is thought that during this period of solitude Jesus resolved that it was now God's plan for him to go to Jerusalem and carry his message to Israel at the very center of its life. Benozzo Gozzoli, The Dance of Salome, 1461-62 Tempera on panel, 23.8 x 34.3 cm National Gallery of Art, Washington Quentin Massys, St John Altarpiece (left wing), 1507-08 Oil on wood Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp Aubrey Beardsley, The Climax, from Oscar Wilde’s Salome, 1893 Distinctions The issues in the modern world are at once different and the same. The division being addressed is between Christians and Jews, but there is a larger context that addresses all of the hostile distinctions we draw between each other. One of the persistent features of the depictions of the world at the end of time is that all the universe will be reconciled and in harmony. The fewer hostile distinctions we draw with others the better we will be and the removal of those distinctions was and is a main purpose of the incarnation. Mark 6:30-56 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:30-56 35 When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii † worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And all ate and were filled; 43 and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. Mark 6:30-56 Jesus Walks on the Water 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. 49 But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:30-56 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. The Text Theme In the text the author shows a growing excitement as Jesus moves toward Jerusalem. There is a more subtle point being made concerning the feeding. Jesus asks that the people be seated in groups of forty, this is similar to the division of the people by Moses in the Exodus. The miraculous feeding in a deserted place reinforces this subtle point. It is Jesus who is like Moses is forming, leading and protecting His people, not the contemporary authorities of that day. Not exactly the Mark 6 passage, but similar…. Giovanni Lanfranco, Miracle of the Bread and Fish, 1620-23 Oil on canvas, 229 x 426 cm National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin Not exactly the Mark 6 passage, but similar…. Giovanni Lanfranco, Miracle of the Bread and Fish, 1620-23 Oil on canvas, 229 x 426 cm National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.' Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition." Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." The Isaiah Quote Isaiah 29:13 13 The Lord said: Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote; 14 so I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden. The Point Tradition/Ritual over substance In Matthew Jesus makes His own accusation illustrating that the issue is not the dietary laws, but putting tradition over substance. Any tradition, if taken to an extreme can become itself a problem. The rule here is one of reason, one with clean hands who does not love a neighbor, has not shown virtue. Establishing and enforcing rules is a natural human tendency, the application needs to be reasonable – Doesn’t it seem that we get in the most trouble when enforcing absolutes? Mark 7:24-37 Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. Mark 7:24-37 She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-- the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Mark 7:24-37 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Mark 7:24-37 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." A note about Context We have just encountered the death of John the Baptist and the feeding of the 5000. The dramatic trip to Jerusalem, but suddenly He is in the area of Sidon and Tyre. The intentional disruption may be lost on modern readers unfamiliar with the area in question. As the Map shows Syrophoenician The woman is also called ‘Greek’ or pagan. The term itself implies that she was from Phoenicia in the Roman province of Syria near Sidon and Tyre In the parallel incident in Matthew she is called a Canaanite which would have been the same area A ‘lost’ argument – May be an important point The terms used by Jesus seem very harsh – particularly the dog part. Did Jesus lose an argument with this woman, or was this His way of using irony to make a point? Her persistence illustrates that even those we see as outsiders can have faith and deserve grace. The author here may use this interlude for the point that His trip to Jerusalem and resurrection were for the benefit of all people, including you and I who are separated not only by distance as was the woman, but for us by time. Paolo Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi, 1573 Oil on canvas, 555 x 1280 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice Note dog ready to catch the crumbs from the table Paolo Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi, 1573 Oil on canvas, 555 x 1280 cm, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice Note dog ready to catch the crumbs from the table Mark 8: 1-26 8 In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, ² “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. ³ If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 䒌is disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 䒗e asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 䒢hen he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. Mark 8: 1-26 䒭hey had also a few small ﬁsh; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 䒸hey ate and were ﬁlled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. ⁹ Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. ¹⁰ And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. ¹¹ The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. ¹² And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Mark 8: 1-26 ¹³ And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side. ¹䒌ow the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. ¹䒗nd he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” ¹䒢hey said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” ¹䒭nd becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? ¹䒸o you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? ¹⁹ When I broke the ﬁve loaves for the ﬁve thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” ²⁰ “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” ²¹ Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Abrupt Shift Mark wastes no words, yet here we have a parallel event? The crowd of 5000 has been fed followed by the argument with the Syrophoenician woman and an encounter about unclean hands and what really defiles a person. And, now a crowd of 4000 hungry people, why repeat the story, especially in Mark the ‘summary’ Gospel. When will this make sense? At one level, the feeding of this set of 4000 people in the ‘surrounding’ area, which would be a non-Israelite crowd as opposed to the implicitly Israelite crowd of 5000. The seven baskets of left overs also signaling the outsider status, when compared with the twelve baskets for the twelve tribes. Two feedings of unthinkable numbers, one Jewish and one gentile and yet His followers still do not understand who they are with and what is happening. Only after the resurrection will the Disciples begin to make sense of the events unfolding right before them. “Do you not yet understand?” The answer may be that yes, we still do not understand. Perhaps Mark with his abbreviated style wanted to drive home the point that the up coming trip to Jerusalem and resulting resurrection, were intended to benefit all creation Mark 8:27-38 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Mark 8:27-38 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Mark 8:27-38 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Mark 8:27-38 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Context Outline Harper Collins Bible Dictionary divides Mark into six sections: 1. The start 2. Mission to Galilee 3. Final trip to Jerusalem. 4. 3 predictions of the passion 5. The final week 6. Resurrection The reading comes from section four. It opens with the healing of a blind man. Then three predictions of the passion. And ends with the healing of a blind man Messiah Victory Mark, the short version James Tissot (1836–1902), Get Thee Behind Me, Satan, 1886-94 Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper 5.7 × 8.6 in. Brooklyn Museum Annibale Carracci, Domine quo vadis?,1601-02 Oil on panel, 77,4 x 56,3 cm, National Gallery, London This tale from the life of St Peter is recorded in the collection of legends written down by Jacobus a Voragine in the 13th century. It tells how the apostle, having triumphed over Simon Magus, was persuaded by the Christians of Rome to leave town. Peter encountered Christ on the Appian way and asked "Quo vadis domine" (Whither goest thou, master?), to which Christ replied "To Rome, to be crucified anew." El Greco, Saint Peter, 1610-13 Oil on canvas, 209 x 106 cm Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial The infinite upward movement and powerful rhythm of this monolithic image express the spiritual meaning of the “Prince of the Apostles” the “Rock upon which the Church was built.” This is a magnificent example of El Greco's late manner. Mark 8:31-38 [Disciples] Then Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Mark 8:31-38 [People] He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Peter’s Rebuke? Peter, shown in Mark to have a special position, is here called Satan, by Jesus? Remember the temptation in Mark where Satan offers Jesus the kingship of the earth? Peter represents that same offer to live as a King. The Man of Sorrows The image developed from the Byzantine imagery, as early as the 8th century. A miraculous icon of it appears to have been brought to the major pilgrimage church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome in the 12th century, of which only copies now survive. By the 13th century it was becoming common in the West as a devotional image for contemplation, in sculpture, painting and manuscripts. It is an image for mystical contemplation. Petrus Christus, The Man of Sorrows, 1444-46 Wood Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Martin Schongauer, The Man of Sorrows with the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist, 1470-75 Copper-plate engraving, 223 x 157 mm Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna Background Context Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida Peter’s Declaration about Jesus Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection The Transfiguration The Healing of a Boy with a Spirit Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection Who Is the Greatest? Another Exorcist Temptations to Sin Teaching about Divorce Jesus Blesses Little Children The Rich Man A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection The Request of James and John The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalm. Jesus in all of the Gospels tells His followers in advance that he will be killed. In Mark he tells them three times but
The Synoptic Gospels This incident appears in all three synoptic Gospels. Matthew 19.16–30; Luke 18.18–30 In each the story is told in virtually the same words. Thus even though this is an uncomfortable reading for modern Episcopalians, it is one that cannot be avoided. The point about Rich People The point is that it will be hard for rich people to enter heaven. So what’s wrong with being rich? The conventional wisdom of the NT age was that wealth made possible the performance of religious duties. Like the main character in “Fiddler on the Roof” a rich man has time to do all the rituals, while a poor man must work. The Disciples The point is Grace. Heinrich Hofmann, Christ And The Rich Young Ruler, 1889 Original work was purchased by John D. Rockefeller for Riverside Church, New York, around 1930 Hofmann was famous for his images of Jesus, which were used for numerous illustrated Bibles and Sunday School leaflets Uncomfortable If the pronouncement about rich people was uncomfortable. You join a crowd of people with the same feeling. The Thirty-nine Articles, found in the back of the BCP, state the Anglican position on a number religious and theological issue from the 1500’s. XXXVIII. Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common. The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability. Mark 10:35-45 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Mark 10:35-45 They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among Mark 10:35-45 the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." Reference to Job In this reading humans essentially confront God with a demand. Job concerning his suffering James and John concerning their right to sit at His right and left hand in heaven – places of honor. Jesus just as He answered Job – does not answer. Ironic We know from history, but neither John, James, or the ten protesting Apostles, knew that each of them will in turn be executed in an unpleasant way. Another example of those closest to Jesus failing to understand. But like Jesus each will have an influence far beyond their local community or time. In short, they did not know what they were asking and did not understand the answer. They did get what was asked, and I think all were in the end satisfied with the result. Radical We like they, live in a hierarchical society. For them it was slave and free, Roman and everyone else, rich and poor – which may be either a symptom or a cause. For us the nouns may have changed, but the hierarchy and the rich and poor thing are exactly the same. Jesus proposes to turn society on its head – leaders must serve and not be served, in other contexts this paradox is seen in examples of strength from weakness The Misunderstanding The two, and the others, were asking to be like Jesus. They understood in human terms what a King could do. What they did not understand was that the mission and goals of Jesus were not human but Devine. Jesus was not seeking power for himself, but to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. The Christian Paradox Weakness = Strength The radical paradigm is that a leader is not to be served but to serve. The coming crucifixion in human terms should have destroyed Jesus and ended His influence. We know from the perspective of history that it had the opposite effect and magnified the influence of Jesus many times and beyond the local community He inhabited. There are many examples in scripture where God chooses the youngest or one who is marginalized for His purposes. Those who appear weak, but surrender to God’s care, can accomplish great things. Usually not personal gain but great good for others. Mark 10:46-52 Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:46-52 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Mark 10:46-52 Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Blind Bartimaeus cries out, c. 1850 Blind Bartimaeus The same healing of a blind man, or in one Gospel, two near Jericho is in all three synoptic Gospels. Bartimaeus means “son of Timaeus” in Aramaic. Addressing Jesus as Son of David, the beggar was publicly identifying him as King of the Jews, the Messiah, a dangerous thing politically. Faith In the healings of both the woman with the hemorrhage and the blind Bartimaeus Jesus proclaims that their faith has “saved” them; most recent translations correctly render the Greek verb as “has made you well.” Messianic Secret! One controversial 20th Century theory is that the synoptic Gospels consistently indicate that Jesus attempted to hide his messianic character only to be reveled after his resurrection. Other scholars have attacked this theory. This passage is one that has been used to criticize this theory. It is not Jesus who orders Bartimaeus to be quiet but ‘many.’ Mark 11:1-11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, `Why are you doing this?' just say this, Mark 11:1-11 `The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.'" They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, Mark 11:1-11 and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. The dramatic entry into Jerusalem The story of the synoptic Gospels unfolds to bring Jesus to Jerusalem and the final confrontation. Keep in mind that these events were not written down until many years and after much thought. The scene may seem strange to modern ears but for those present it had scriptural roots. Old Testament Connection 2 Kings 9:13-37 is an interesting parallel event. The prophet Elisha sent a member of his company of prophets to Jehu, a commander for King Ahab, husband of Jezebel, to anoint Jehu King of Israel, so that he could avenge the prophets murdered by Jezebel. When Jehu tells his friends about this Old Testament Connection 2 Kings 9:12-13 “So he said, "This is just what he said to me: Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.' " 13 Then hurriedly they all took their cloaks and spread them for him on the bare steps; and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, "Jehu is king.“ [he has to kill a few folks first] So, the cloaks on the ground have an OT connection with a King anointed by God in place of an unfaithful King. Zechariah and the Prince of Peace Active from around 518 BC told of a triumphant king to come in peace. Zech 9:9-10 “The Coming Ruler of God’s People 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. And the point? Mark 12:28-34 One of the scribes came near and heard the Sadducees disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' Mark 12:28-34 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Then the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that 'he is one, and besides him there is no other'; and 'to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and 'to love one's neighbor as oneself,'--this is much more important Mark 12:28-34 than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that no one dared to ask him any question. In Context In context the reading is something of a surprise. The Pharisees are consistently given bad press in the New Testament. Jesus here reaffirms the promises made by God in the law as relevant. Jesus further indicates that these questioners are ‘not far’ from the kingdom. Stereotype ‘busted’ We’ve been led to accept that the Pharisees were the persistent and chief opponents of Jesus. Yet here Jesus seems to affirm their world view and say that they are ‘close’ not polar opposites. Also note – Jesus spends a good bit of time with the Pharisees, and we know that ultimately Paul, a Pharisee, will become His great proponent. What’s up with this? Opponents? This is a sample of the difference in perspective between Jesus and people. The Pharisees were the opponents of Jesus, but was Jesus was their opponent? Jesus did point out where they were wrong sometimes forcefully, even using them as bad examples, as in the following verses. But He did spend a lot of time with them and in the end, gave His life for them as well as everyone else. When Jesus said love your enemy, He also provided an example, Himself. Jesus was trying to bring the Pharisees along just as for others! Mark 12:38-44 Teaching in the temple, Jesus said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Mark 12:38-44 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." James Tissot, The Widow's Mite, from The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1886-94; Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, 7 3/16 x 11 1/16 in., Brooklyn Museum What is said and what is not said The widow here is commended for her generous gift. The rich here are not criticized for giving from abundance. The teaching here is about the ‘economy’ of the Kingdom. All of the gifts are good, but we humans tend to put the large donors at the head of the table, or on a plaque. In the Kingdom, the absolute size is not as important as the act of self sacrifice. Again this is a teaching about perspective. Mark 13:1-8 As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down." When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Mark 13:1-8 Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?" Then Jesus began to say to them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. Mark 13:1-8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs." Mark 13:24-37 Jesus said to his disciples, "In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see `the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. Mark 13:24-37 "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Mark 13:24-37 "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake-- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake." Context The day or date for this reading is not stated but the next time note is ‘two days before the Passover feast’ So Mark is starting to wind up his Gospel The natural subject is what is to come? The readers know that the end is near, but the players in this reading do not. As often happens in Mark those present then ask what did Jesus mean. The answer is oblique, rather than focus on the startling prediction about the destruction of the temple, the answer moves off on a tangent. The tangents One tangent is false leaders – they are simply warned but not given guidance to figure out good from false prophets. Concerning the future, the comments about wars and rumors of war could apply to nearly every year since long before the Romans. So not much help on the date is offered only an assurance that something better would follow. The coming Tribulation! The same prediction in nearly the same words occurs in Luke and a very similar text appears in Matthew, so this may be an important point. It is only natural that the followers wanted to know what as to come. That is a desire of all of people. Elsewhere we are told to live each day as if the end of history is tomorrow. Good advice, don’t postpone the start of important work, if it is important start now. Remember when this was written years after the events, the writer already knew there would years yet to come. Whatever the point, the precise date is not important. Luca Signorelli, Apocalypse and Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist 1499-1502 Two Frescos from the Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto According to the prediction in the Scriptures, the deeds of the Antichrist take place immediately before the end of the world, in those last days when “the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken” (Mark 13: 24-25). It is quite likely that the Deeds of the Antichrist is intended as a reference to Savonarola, the Dominican friar hanged and burnt at the stake in Florence on 23 May 1498. Michelangelo admired the work of Signorelli and is thought to have been inspired by his work when planning the Sistine Chapel frescos. Wilhelm von Kaulbach, The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 1846 Oil on canvas, 585 x 705 cm Neue Pinakothek, Munich Gospel Order Traditionally the Gospels were thought to have been written in New Testament order – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Scholars in recent times have determined a different order based on content. Matthew, Mark, and Luke - are called the “Synoptic Gospels” because they “view together” the events of Jesus’ life. Many of the sayings, parables, and incidents appear in more than one gospel, often in similar or virtually identical words. The Narrative Books – The Gospel As literature the Gospels are similar in form to a type of Graeco-Roman biography, such as report the lives of Epictetus, Apollonius, and Socrates. This type of biography was called aretalogy which is "a narrative of the miraculous deeds of a god or hero." The New Testament writers then used a familiar form of literature to tell the Good News about Jesus. Context – The Mini Apocalypse The section titles for this chapter leading up the reading are: The Destruction of the Temple Foretold Persecution Foretold The Desolating Sacrilege Our readings are titled The Coming of the Son of Man The Lesson of the Fig Tree The Necessity for Watchfulness So, Back to Why? Perhaps, this section is actually speaking in terms of the second coming and not the events during the incarnation. The complier of the lectionary may have agreed in that this reading is one of the Advent selections. The theme is of course that the Son of man is coming / returning and no one knows the day or hour. This is not so much intended to generate fear but to show that you should lead your life in view of the second coming to be expected at any moment. William Blake, The Descent of Christ, 1804-20 Etching with pen, watercolor and gold, 219 x 159 mm Yale Center for British Art, New Haven Note this is a tiny work, plate 35 of the illustrated poem Jerusalem. The sleeping Albion [who symbolizes early Great Britain] is visited by Christ, who awakens his dormant desire for salvation. Though Albion is not yet conscious of Christ's sacrifice, its promise is foreshadowed by the new body that begins to emerge from his breast. Blake’s theology is not that of orthodox Christianity, nevertheless this image captures the idea of “Sleepers, Awake!” Albrecht Durer, The Revelation of St John: 5. Opening the Fifth and Sixth Seals, 1497-98 Woodcut, 39 x 28 cm Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe Note the sun and the moon. Unknown German Artist, Madonna of the Apocalypse, 1390s Oak, 32 x 20 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin This courtly, small standing Madonna is a Woman of the Apocalypse, as indicated by the sun and moon at her feet. Mary is invested with a lavish bridal crown, typifying the beautiful Madonna of the period, an aristocratic theme close to the elegant ideals of the International Gothic style. This aristocratic, conservative manner prevailed throughout Europe close to the year 1400. Mark 14:1-15:47 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people." Mark 14:1-15:47 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. Mark 14:1-15:47 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her." Mark 14:1-15:47 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" Mark 14:1-15:47 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "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." So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. Mark 14:1-15:47 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?" He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born." Mark 14:1-15:47 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Mark 14:1-15:47 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters; for it is written, `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' Mark 14:1-15:47 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter said to him, "Even though all become deserters, I will not." Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." But he said vehemently, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And all of them said the same. Mark 14:1-15:47 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake." And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want." Mark 14:1-15:47 He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. Mark 14:1-15:47 He came a third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand." Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Mark 14:1-15:47 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Mark 14:1-15:47 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled." All of them deserted him and fled. A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked. Mark 14:1-15:47 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. Mark 14:1-15:47 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, "We heard him say, `I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'" But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" Mark 14:1-15:47 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am; and `you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and `coming with the clouds of heaven.'" Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" Mark 14:1-15:47 All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, "Prophesy!" The guards also took him over and beat him. While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, "You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth." But he denied it, Mark 14:1-15:47 saying, "I do not know or understand what you are talking about." And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not know this man you are talking about." Mark 14:1-15:47 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered him, "You say so." Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, "Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you." Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] Then he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, "Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] They shouted back, "Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him!" So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!" Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah." And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!" Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. Mark 15:1-39, [40-47] When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid. Text Notes Chapter 11 to 15 cover the final week while Chapters 14 and 15 relate to the events immediately surrounding His execution. Keep in mind the authorities were already planning to arrest and execute Him, Judas merely altered the plan not the goal. Nard was expensive and imported from India. The reference to “One of the twelve” was not so much to identify Judas as to intensify the horror of the betrayal. During “The Last Supper” the two disciples were Peter and John according to Luke. In the trial V 58 the reference to another temple ‘not made with hands’ was an accusation that Jesus practiced wizardry, a capital crime in Leviticus 20.27. Text Notes Chapter 15 Chapter 15 deals with the final trial before Pilate, the crucifixion and then the body of Jesus. The Barabbas insurrection was not otherwise recorded, but the crime what ever it was more serious than that of brigandage. Cyrene was the capital city of the north African district of Cyrenaica which had a large Jewish community. Wine together with myrrh was a sedative. The curtain referred to an actual curtain used to close off the Holy of Holies in the temple inner sanctuary a symbol of God’s presence with his people. The symbolism of the torn curtain for Christians is that there was now unhindered access to God achieved for all by Jesus’ death. Why the Concern to retrieve the body? On one level the survivors seem to want to take possession of the body before the weekend. There is another level in Deuteronomy 21:22 “Miscellaneous Laws 22 When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you for possession” The concern was then a fear that Jesus might be in addition to all else be ‘cursed.’ Mark 16:1-8 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. The shorter ending of Mark [[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]] Two Endings? The short ending is thought by scholars to be in a different style. This is the ending as shown in some early manuscripts. The longer ending is an attempt to find a more satisfactory ending. This may have originated in the second century and seems to borrow the motifs but in a shorthand form from the other Gospels. Context with the shorter ending The writer of Mark agrees with all of the other Gospels that the first to the tomb were the women of the group, going to take care of the practical need of dealing with the corpse. There is no post resurrection appearance, and the incident is related in Mark’s usual unembellished manner. The women react in the manner one might expect. They are told that Jesus has gone ahead to Galilee where they should join him. As Galilee is the area of the original ministry, they are being invited to join Him in spreading the Gospel and to await the return, just as well still hope to join with them. The longer ending of Mark 16: 9-15 ⁹ [[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. ¹⁰ She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. ¹¹ But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. ¹² After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. ¹³ And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.¹䒌Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. ¹䒗And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The longer ending of Mark 16: 9-15 ¹䒢The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. ¹䒭And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; ¹䒸they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Context The appearance related in a staccato manner loosely resembles other versions of some of the post resurrection appearances. In this version Mary is the first and the group does not believe her and travels to the tomb. The appearances are not related in detail but seem more calculated as proof that there were resurrection appearances than any detail of the appearance. Some of the final comments seem out of place, the statement concerning snakes and deadly drinks lack any other new testament context. The invitation to join in spreading the Gospel is inferred from the first ending but made explicit in the second and longer. A Few Concluding Thoughts For the moment assume that scholars have correctly understood this to be the outline of the opening dialogue used by the evangelist Peter as recorder by his follower Mark. Judaism was widespread in the 1st Century Roman Empire and the hearers would know a little about the ancient roots of Judaism and might have heard about the life of John the Baptist as well as something about Jesus. If the speaker was Peter, they would be hearing from someone who knew Jesus firsthand and was telling this as an opening introduction. If this was the same opening told repeatedly over the years, it would be polished as a way to start the hearer toward belief. Then after St. Peter had been martyred, the text written down for others to use as they worked to spread the Gospel. If the time of authorship is correct the first generation are now all getting on and the events are now more than thirty years in the past, the main points are sharp but the details are getting slightly blurred. The Beginning The book opens with a quote from the ancient prophet Isaiah to give the reader context. Since the hearer would have known about John the Baptist the speakers add some social background to orient the hearers among the groups that were still reacting to the incarnation more than thirty years past. The story then opens as Jesus gathers His disciples, which is to say the hearers are being shown the formation of the very Church that they are being prepared to join. Healings and Miraculous feedings show Concern The healings always have two aspects the first is care for the unfortunate and the other to illustrate a point. The blind see to drive home the point that the authorities can not themselves see what is unfolding right in front of them. The infirm or paralyzed when healed are able again to take-action and then proclaim as encouragement to us to do the same. Perspective and moderation The healings and much of the action shows Jesus as reaching out to the marginalized and socially unacceptable. Not only does Jesus say that we should reach out to our enemies, this is illustrated as Jesus spends time with for instance the pharisees. We are told the live each days as if it were our last so that we live in expectancy. The Incarnation The final section that tells the story of His death but in a way to make important points. The Disciples are shown as flawed heroes, the point being that if even the most important saints have imperfections and are disloyal, they just like you will be saved through Grace. Grace in that in one way or another all of them except for the Seth women, finally betrayed or abandoned Him and yet by Grace were still loved. Finally, the Proof How do we know that all that is said is true. The proof to the hearers was the evangelist himself, why would a person abandon everything and follow Jesus if that person, who was present through all these events, did not understand them to be authentic. The proof isn’t in the events as they are described but in the reaction of those that stood as witnesses, by taking the rest of their lives spreading the Word itself.