Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Gospel of Mark Bible Study Chapter 1- 1:1-28

Our Prayer today-

Here are some links we'll talk about in Bible Study Today-

Peter's home (Jesus' HQ) in Capernum

The Interlinear Greek New Testament

Here's a link to more about Lectio Divina, the method we used to read scripture at the end of our session- Lectio Divina

My thoughts and commentary to follow, after we meet today. I look forward to your thoughts, comments, and insights (even if you're not part of our Bible Study!)!

Who Do You Say That I Am?

A study on the Gospel of Mark, from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible with Commentary, Notes, and Study Questions by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch

My thoughts and comments on Mark 1:1-28 from Sunday March 9, 2014

Background and themes- Mark is writing to the Gentiles in Rome, probably sometime before the destruction of the Temple in 70AD. His main theme can be summed up with the question- Who do you say that I am? He spends much of the first half of the gospel showing us how Jesus would reveal himself and then warn people not to say anything. Whether commanding demons to leave or curing lepers, he cautioned people against saying too much about him. After the question to the Apostles at Caesarea Philippi and Peter’s proclamation- You are the Christ Mark takes us in a slightly different direction in showing the Sonship of Jesus. This culminates with the exclamation of the Roman soldier at the cross- Truly this man was the Son of God. Mark is short, and all about the facts- who, what, when, where, and why. Where he DOES give details, it’s important to look at the significance of them. Everything is urgent with Mark. The word ‘immediately’ is used more than 40 times, and ‘at once’ is also a common phrase. This sense of urgency drives Mark’s gospel and propels the reader through Christ’s life and mission with great purpose.

My notes on Chapter 1-
Immediately and ‘at once’ are used 11 times in the chapter, we really hit the ground running! Mark wastes no time with detail of Jesus’ birth or childhood. He starts off TELLING us that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, THE SON OF GOD. He will go on to show us the substantive reasons backing up that claim, until, like the Apostles, we come to believe as well.

The only time Mark quotes the Old Testament as the narrator is in 1:2-3. Here he mashes up bits of the prophets to relay his idea that John is the messenger, the voice in the wilderness, the one to prepare the way of the Lord (Ex 23:20, Is 40:3, and Mal 3:1). 

Why did Jesus ask John to baptize him? It was an opportunity for Jesus to relate to us. He didn’t NEED the baptism of repentance, but he did it to be untied with us. It also gave the first NT opportunity to evoke the Trinity. Think about how it would have looked had the Father spoke BEFORE Jesus was baptized. It would have set Jesus apart from the people. Also, the phrase, ‘the heavens opened’ really doesn’t do the scene justice. The Greek word schizo means to tear or rip. The heavens tear themselves apart when the Father speaks. It’s the same word that is used when talking about the Temple veil during the crucifixion.  It’s a more visceral image than just ‘opening’. The image of the dove is one that is covenantal. It‘s the sign of a new beginning. The image is seen at creation, and the story of Noah, and again here.

Jesus tested in the desert. This is the shortest version of the temptation story, so it’s important to look at the details that Mark DOES provide.  He is tempted by Satan among the wild bests- like Adam, and tested for 40 days- like the Israelites for 40 years. But, unlike both Adam and the people of Israel, Jesus resists against Satan and wins. He then will go out and stomp Satan by healing, curing, and exorcising. Much like how we are tempted by Satan after our baptism, Satan started throwing everything he had at Jesus, trying to catch him up or mess up the divine plan. The fight between Jesus and the devil swung into high gear at this point when Jesus begins his public ministry.

He waited until John had been arrested to announce that, “the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel”.  John was the new Elijah that had to appear before the Messiah would come. Jesus announcing the Kingdom of God is at hand at that time validates not only his ministry, but John’s place in the salvation story of the Jews.

Believe in the gospel- the good news. What good news is Jesus referring to here? He hasn’t spoken much yet, but he did have a ministry parallel to John in Judea, and John’s message of repentance and awaiting the Messiah could be the ‘good news’ that Jesus now asks people to believe. 

When Jesus calls the first disciples, they respond IMMEDIATELY. They leave their livelihoods and their families. Would I do the same?  Jesus chose ‘average Joes’ to be his most intimate followers. That tells me two things. First, that the choice of these men clearly shows that the wisdom and power they have is from God. Second, it shows that I too can be a follower of Jesus. Once again, Jesus is identifying with the ‘everyman’ in the world, not setting himself apart from us.

I’ve always wondered about the fact that James and John left their father behind in the boat to follow Jesus. But as they had hired servants, it was a profitable business so they weren’t abandoning their responsibility to honor their father. I like the idea also that maybe their father gave his blessing for them to go. I’d never considered that. On a typological level you could look at this scene also akin to leaving one’s father to marry a bride. It could be an early type of the priesthood, ‘leaving and cleaving’ to join with Christ to be wedded to his Bride, the Church.

Jesus then goes immediately (there’s that word again!) to Capernaum to the synagogue to preach on the Sabbath. He taught as one with authority and they (including his new disciples) were amazed. The idea that Simon, Andrew, James, and John followed him and THEN were amazed by his authority in preaching is a thought that didn’t come to me until we were reading this pericope as part of our Lectio Divina reading at the end our of study. This is also the first (of many) times that Satan will try and muck up Jesus’ plan by interrupting him as he is preaching. But Jesus rebukes and silences the demon, commanding him to come out. The exorcists of the day would have used lengthy incantations and odorous roots to try and achieve this and were amazed again at the authority with which Jesus spoke.

From here, the word goes out and all of Galilee will soon know of Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. The first thing that's struck me during my read-through and then during what we talked about during Bible Study was that same question: "who do you say that I am" -- and then the way that I wonder what the answer to that statement means. I spent most of my childhood considering most of the people of Jesus' day as deliberately blind/ignorant -- not truly being able to imagine myself believing in the Old Testament law and having that ingrained picture of the Messiah, and then suddenly seeing this man who taught *in church* with authority all His own, who preached words that would be more important to hear than it was to eat, who was at once so incredibly attractive and so incredibly ordinary. I'm having a great time hearing it all.

    You did an awesome job summarizing all the things we talked about, and I'm not sure how much I even have to add -- I adore the idea that James and John following Jesus was a prefigurement of the priesthood or the ultimate marriage covenant between Christ and the Church. I enjoyed going through the Lectio Divina method. It's something I've only done on rare occasions before, and never with something like an exorcism (something that's quite frightening for its own sake). I was half-concentrating on the fact that even the demons gravitate toward Jesus -- this man was doing something out of the ordinary, being like, "I shouldn't be here, but" (and the demon doesn't care about human tradition) -- and half-concentrating on the fact that Jesus' words command absolutely everything and this is the kind of strength that cares for us.

    Thanks again for ALL you do and I'll talk to you soon!