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The Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark

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The Gospel of Mark

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  1. The Gospel of Mark Jesus’ Disciples & Opponents Session 2 Photo by Matthew Twining

  2. Opening PrayerWork your wonders Brueggemann, Walter. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2003.

  3. Jesus’ Disciples & Opponents Session 2 Series based onThe Gospel of Mark By Donald H. Juel 1999 Abingdon Press

  4. Characters in Mark’s Gospel • Often have no background on character • John the Baptist • Others are “stock characters” • Pharisees – identified with their interest in ritual purity

  5. Pharisees, Sadducees, & Herodians • Pharisees • “Separate ones” • Response to Alexander the Great’s imposition of Hellenistic customs on Israel • Developed oral torah • Sadducees • Possibly another response to Hellenization • Torah (1st 5 books of OT) the standard • Opposed concept of resurrection • Herodians • Know even less • Seem to have been supporters of King Herod

  6. Pharisees & Sabbath Observance • Sabbath observance important to distinguish Jews from all the nations • Permissible acts varied among Jewish groups • Pharisees – ok to assist animal in trouble • Dead Sea community – not ok to help animal • Jesus sides with the Pharisees in Mt. 12:11-12 • Jesus gets in trouble for healing on the Sabbath • Life is not at stake • Acts on his own authority Matthew 12:11 He said to them, "Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath."

  7. Scribes, Chief Priests & Elders • Scribes – trained to study biblical texts • Chief Priests – appointed by the king to act with authority over temple rituals in Jerusalem • Elders – lay leadership • Primary opposition to Jesus came from Jerusalem based groups with ties to the government (Rome)

  8. Satan & Unclean Spirits • Casting out demons a core feature of Jesus’ ministry in Mark’s gospel • Jesus tells parable of divided kingdom in opposition to those who claim his power comes from an evil spirit (Mark 3:22-27)

  9. Family • Background details on Jesus’ life are sketchy (Mark 6:2-3) • He has brothers & sisters • His occupation is carpentry • His own family questions his mental status (3:19-21) • Jesus adopts his followers as his family (3:31-35) • Crossing traditional family boundaries increases opposition from authorities

  10. Little People • True heroes of Mark’s gospel • For most, they have in common being healed by Jesus • Outsider status due to religious law, not economics • Provide other occasions of boundary crossing for Jesus • Unknown woman who anoints Jesus at Simon’s house has story of her deed as memorial • Yet her story not included in lectionary cycle

  11. The Disciples • Jesus’ disciples includes many who follow • The Twelve / Apostles • Other followers including women (4:10; 15:40) • The Apostles sent out by Jesus to imitate his ministry are given extra instruction • 12 reminiscent of 12 tribes of Israel • Both insightful (Peter in 8:27-29) and hard-headed (hearted) (6:52) • Juel asks whether these disciples show promise for carrying on Jesus’ ministry Mark 15:40 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. Mark 4:10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. Mark 8:27 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?" 28 And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." Mark 6:52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

  12. Who is God in Mark’s Gospel?

  13. God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob • Jesus is the Son of Israel’s God • Mark 12:26 • Mark 12:29-30 • God’s name • Hebrew tetragramaton (hwhy) • Translation issues • Usual circumlocution for God’s name in Hebrew is Adonai or Lord • Septuagint used Greek word for Lord (kurie) as God’s name • Greek NT books employ Lord for multiple uses • As God’s name • To mean master • To mean sir • Linguistic confusion means it is possible to cross over into blasphemy • Ex. Healing of Gerasene demoniac (5:19-20) Mark 12:26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 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.'

  14. God of Action • God speaks 2 times • At Jesus’ baptism • At Transfiguration • God tears something 2 times • The heavens at Jesus’ baptism • The curtain in the Temple at Jesus’ death • God’s actions often couched in passive voice as sign of respect for speaking about God • Mark 4:10-12 • Mark 6:52 • Mark 16:6 Mark 4:10 When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12 in order that 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'" Mark 16:6 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. Mark 6:52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

  15. Kingdom of God • Jesus inaugurates his ministry with the proclamation “the kingdom of God has come near” (1:15) • Greek word for kingdom (basileia) can be thought of in 2 ways • As a place • As an activity • Kingdom of God as God’s rule works in most cases • In 2 parables Jesus suggests the kingdom can be compared to a house • Mark 3:23-25 • Mark 13:33-37 • Makes the kingdom of God an “embodied activity” (Juel, p. 82) • Mark’s gospel describes Jesus as the announcer of the kingdom • The kingdom itself belongs to God Mark 3:23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Mark 13:33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 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. 35 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, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."

  16. God & Law • Mark records disputes between Jesus & the authorities on the interpretation of Mosaic Law • Mark 7:9-13 • Mark 10:2-9 • God is not simply the Creator of the heavens and the earth, but the author of the Law by which life is regulated and structured. God “joins together” through the agency of the Law. Interpretation is very much part of divine activity, since it is the way God’s Law takes concrete shape. And interpretation necessarily raises questions of authority. Who has the right to interpret—and thus to speak for God? …The major difference between Mark’s Gospel and the later Jewish Law Codes, like the Mishnah, is formal: legal issues are not settled through debate and voting. Jesus makes pronouncements. The law must be interpreted—but it is Jesus who has the authority to interpret, even to speak for God.(Juel, p. 84) • This authoritative stance positions Jesus as speaking for God • For the rulers of the day, Jesus’ speech is blasphemy Mark 7:9 Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God)-- 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this." Mark 10:2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" 3 He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" 4 They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." 5 But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 7 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

  17. God the Father • In Mark’s gospel, God is Father by implication • Jesus is called “Son of God” twice by God • Demons acknowledge Jesus as “the Son of God” • Jesus calls God Abba or father in Garden of Gethsemane • Jesus speaks of The Father as the One who knows the time of the end • Only time others are included as children of God is when Jesus admonishes his followers to “forgive so your Father in heaven may forgive” (Mark 11:25) • God is Father to Jesus the Messiah, the King (Ps. 2:7)

  18. Who is Jesus in Mark’s Gospel

  19. Who Do People Say That I Am? Mark 8:27 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?" 28 And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." • Jesus gives his disciples a 2 – part quiz (8:27-29) • Who do people say I am? • Who do you say I am? • Position & identity of a person defines their response

  20. Who Do People Say That I Am?Jesus’ Family • Mark portrays Jesus’ family as being non-supportive (3:20-21) • They believe he is mentally ill • Jesus’ response is to break with his family of origin (3:31-35) • Gathers a new family obedient to God’s will Mark 3:20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind." Mark 3:31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." 33 And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

  21. Who Do People Say That I Am?Ordinary People • People attracted to Jesus • As healer • As teacher with authority • As prophet like Elijah & Elisha • Brings dead to life • Feeds people • Connected with last days • Disciples mainly confused • Frightened by Jesus’ authority over nature • Turn to him for answers as their teacher • Name him the Messiah

  22. Who Do People Say That I Am?Supernatural Beings • God • Declares Jesus to be his Son • Israel’s king is son of God (Ps. 2:7; 2 Sam. 7:14) • Demons & unclean spirits name him as • The Holy One of God • The Son of God • The Son of the Most High God

  23. Who Do People Say That I Am?Ruling Authorities • Pharisees most concerned about Jesus’ crossing legal boundaries, esp. Sabbath • Early on express desire to get rid of him • Scribes make legal charges against Jesus • Blasphemy (2:5-7) • Demon possession (3:28-30) • Herod fears that Jesus is a resurrected John the Baptist (6:14-16) • Ruling authorities fear him because of the crowds (11:18) • Chief priest asks Jesus explicitly • “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed” (14:61) • Jesus’ response, “I am…” (14:62) leads immediately to condemnation for blasphemy • Pilate acts against Jesus for political motives • Charge that Jesus is King of the Jews is not acceptable to Roman authorities • Soldiers mock Jesus as king, not knowing they speak truth then NRS Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Mark 3:28 "Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"-- 30 for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit." Mark 6:14 King Herod heard of it, 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." 15 But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." Mark 11:18 And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. Mark 14:61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Mark 14:62 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.'"

  24. Jesus, the Teacher • Called teacher more often than any other gospel • Does less teaching than any other gospel; Mark’s Jesus is a man of action • Teachings occur in 3 main blocks • Cluster of parables found in Mark 4 • Teaching on discipleship and greatness after Peter’s confession • Little Apocalypse of Mark 13

  25. Crossing Legal Boundaries • Judea in the time of Jesus is one of clear-cut boundaries • Jesus’ ministry regularly entails crossing these boundaries • Touches a leper • Dines with sinners and tax collectors • Deals with unclean spirits in unclean lands (the Gerasenes) • Pharisees actually respect Jesus who generally lives with the Law, but are puzzled by his lax Sabbath observance • Clearest boundary between Creator and creature • Violation of this boundary is blasphemy • Punishment is stoning (Lev. 24:10-16) • Jewish authorities convict Jesus on a charge of blasphemy Leviticus 24:10 A man whose mother was an Israelite and whose father was an Egyptian came out among the people of Israel; and the Israelite woman's son and a certain Israelite began fighting in the camp. 11 The Israelite woman's son blasphemed the Name in a curse. And they brought him to Moses-- now his mother's name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan-- 12 and they put him in custody, until the decision of the LORD should be made clear to them. 13 The LORD said to Moses, saying: 14 Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin. 16 One who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death.

  26. Born to Die • Necessity of Jesus’ death is emphasized by the space Mark gives to it • About a third of the gospel covers last week • About a sixth covers the last 24 hours • Follows God’s will • Mark 14:21 • Mark 14:36

  27. Jesus’ Title of Christ / Messiah • Use of title with definite article, e.g. “The Christ”, denotes a king • Royal imagery supported with several OT texts • Psalms 2; 89; & 132 • 2 Samuel 7 • Numbers 24:17 • Genesis 49:10 • Isaiah 11:1 • Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:17-22 • Expectation of a prophet in the last days was a 2nd distinctive tradition from the expectation of a king like David • Jewish expectations varied widely; not everyone expected a kingly figure • Suffering king was disconnected with 1st century Judean traditions

  28. Jesus’ Title of “The Son of Man” • Difficulty translating this phrase seen in Living Bible • The Messiah • Self-reference • Jesus uses this expression to refer to himself • Matthew & Mark seem to regard it as the personal pronoun • Nowhere used as statement of identity as in “Jesus is the Son of Man” • May be related to Daniel’s figure “like a human being” / “like a son of man” (Daniel 7:9-14)

  29. Jesus’ Ministry of Plundering Satan’s HouseMark 3:22-27 Mark 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons." 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 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.

  30. Mark 5:1-20Defeating the Legion Mark 5:1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him; 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." 8 For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" 9 Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many." 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding; 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, "Send us into the swine; let us enter them." 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea. 14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused, and said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you." 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

  31. Mark 5:21-43Freeing Two Women Mark 5:21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 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." 24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" 31 And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'" 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." 35 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?" 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." 40 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. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

  32. Where Have All the Demons Gone? • With Jesus’ healing following the Transfiguration, Mark says nothing more of Satan • Instead, as Albert Schweitzer noted, Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem • It may be that we are to see the confrontation with the religious and political authorities as the climax of God’s dealing with the domain of the devil…Selecting either Jesus’ conflict with Satan or his conflict with the religious authorities as the major theme in the story is illegitimate. Both are present. Lacking explicit warrant, we must venture a guess about how the author understood the relationship between the forces of the devil and the political and religious authorities. Later tradition unified the two themes. Such an understanding is probably implied in Mark. Perhaps we may understand the conflict so central to the story in terms of bondage. Those who are possessed by Satan are not in control and are thus unable to free themselves. (Juel, p. 118)

  33. Bibliography • Juel, Donald H., The Gospel of Mark, Nashville : Abingdon Press, 1999. • Matthew Twining, “St. Mark's Lion”, July 7, 2008, photo used by permission under Creative Commons license.