Today we spent a good bit of time reviewing the themes of Chapter 1, and answering the questions in the book.
We pick up at Verse 28 in Chapter 1 where Jesus, having cast out the demon, to the astonishment of the crowds ("What is this?! A new teaching?!") IMMEDIATELY leaves the synagogue and goes to the home of Simon and Andrew. His fame is spreading, but he doesn't bask in it, or continue to teach, but immediately goes to the home he will use as his homebase. There he encounters Simon's mother-in-law who is sick. She is the first one that Jesus heals in Mark's gospel. This healing (albeit a private one) took place during the Sabbath, and begins Jesus's ministry of healing by TOUCHING the afflicted. It's not until that evening, after the Sabbath that the entire town of Capernaum comes to the house with their sick and possessed. How many people would that have been? According to Wikipedia about 1500!
The next morning he went out alone, to a solitary place to pray. We see this cycle throughout the gospels. Jesus dealing with the crowds; healing, teaching, and preaching and then going out alone to pray. How human of him! :) Taking time to be alone with God, to recharge, gather strength to face the next day, the next challenge.
When Simon and the others come to find him and tell him that everyone is looking for him, he says basically, 'Let's get this thing started, this is why I'm here, to preach the gospel throughout the land'. So they went, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. Those two are linked often. Did the demon possessed gather around the synagogue? Were they brought there for healing? Were they drawn there by the demons? Interesting questions.
In 1:40 we see the first time we see Jesus heal some one who is considered 'unclean' by Jewish law. Jesus reaches out and touches the man to make him clean. Mark brings home the point later that Jesus' touch makes the other person clean, it does not make him unclean. The power of that touch. Likely the first human contact the man had experienced in years. It shows how approachable Jesus is, that he identifies with us. It shows his power over the Old Covenant rules, how that his holiness conquers the uncleanliness of the leper. He has the man still go through the proscribed steps to show himself to the priest so that he can again be part of the community. And...tells him to tell no one what he had done.
This is Mark's emphasis on the Messianic Secret. It's a thread that runs throughout the first half of his gospel. Why did Jesus do this? There are several thoughts on this-
1) He wanted to avoid the reputation that he was merely (merely!) a miracle worker or healer
2) He wanted to steer away from the popular ideas of the time of what the Messiah would be like- a military leader and great warrior.
3) He didn't want to give his enemies time until the appointed time to fire up their wrath.
(paraphrased from the Gospel of Mark Ignatius Catholic Study Bible notes)
(CH 2:1-12 will be added soon...hopefully!)
In looking at Chapter 2 through Chapter 3:6 we see 5 scenes in which Jesus' actions lead to encounters with the Pharisees. Here are a couple of links to more information about the Pharisees from both a Jewish and Catholic perspective-
I think that reading about them from the perspective of modern Judaism is absolutely fascinating!
(More to come later!)