Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gospel of Mark Study (3)

Gospel of Mark Study
Week Three

1.     Jesus choosing the Twelve (Mark 3.13-19)

a.     Shows something of Jesus’ authority

·      “’What clues can we find about Jesus’ self-understanding from the way he related to others?’

[Ben]Witherington thought for a moment, then replied, ‘Look at his relationship with his disciples.  Jesus has twelve disciples, yet notice that he’s not one of the Twelve.’

While that may sound like a detail without a difference, Witherington said it’s quite significant.

‘If the Twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in?’ he asked.  ‘He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, he’s forming the group—just as God in the Old Testament formed his people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel.  That’s a clue about what Jesus thought of himself.’”[1]

b.     Discipleship: Mark 3.14-15

                                               i.     “that they would be with him” à learn from the Master; imitate the Master

                                              ii.     “that he could send them out to preach and to have authority to cast out demons”[2]

c.      Jesus is the example they are to follow

2.     Mark 6.7-13

a.     The 12 are sent out with the authority of Jesus to cast out demons and to heal

b.     This successful mission shows the power of Jesus: he is able to transfer his power to his followers so that, in his name, they are able to do what he did

c.      This section serves to set up the next section concerning the death of John the Baptist

d.     The death of John the Baptist serves to foreshadow Jesus’ death by a similar political leader who is manipulated by the crowd

e.     Also serves to show that faithful followers will face opposition and death

3.     Mark 7.24-30: Syrophoenician woman and demonized daughter

a.     Is Jesus being callous and mean?

b.     Keep in mind the big picture of what happens…

                                               i.     Woman comes to Jesus and her daughter has a demon
                                              ii.     This woman leaves the presence of Jesus and her daughter does not have a demon
                                            iii.     Her request is answered …
                                            iv.     but she is challenged in her faith (cf. the same dynamic in Mark 9.14-27 with the man and his demonized son)

c.      “It is most unlikely that Mark would have included this story in his Gospel if he thought that it would have a negative effect on his gentile readers.”[3]

d.     Use of the word “first” in v. 27 is crucial to note.  Jesus is not giving a blanket denial but speaking of timing.

                                               i.     Jesus is stressing his mission to the Jews; he is the Jewish messiah
                                              ii.     Woman accepts this; she owns the distinctions that Jesus lays out
                                            iii.     She seeks, in faith, for an overflow of the Jewish blessings

e.     “It is worth noting, however, that the woman does not take offense at Jesus’ response.  Instead, she detects in Jesus’ words an element of hope for her daughter.”[4]

f.      “One of the unfortunate liabilities of written speech is the fact that the tone of voice cannot be recorded.  In conversation a change in tone, a wink, a pause, or a smile suggest how the words are to be interpreted.  This text uttered with a frown would mean something quite different than if it were uttered with a wink or a smile.  The former would mean, ‘Be off!  Don’t bother me, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs!’  In the latter instance it would mean, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs, is it?  What do you think?’

“In the absence of voice tone, these words of Jesus must be interpreted with any verbal hints the verse contains and in the context of Jesus’ life and teachings…it seems best to interpret the text as a match of wits in which Jesus seeks to lead the Syrophoenician woman to a more persistent and deeper faith.”[5]

4.     Mark 6.33-44: feeding the 5000

a.     Jesus “felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 34)

                                               i.     “sheep without a shepherd”: Numbers 27.17; Ezekiel 34 (esp. vv. 5-8, 11-12, 14-16, 23-24)

                                              ii.     “feel compassion” (splanchnizomai/σπλαγχνίζομαι)  12 x’s in NT

·      Matthew 9.36  generic statement about Jesus’ view toward people (esp. the sick, v. 35)
·      Matthew 14.14//Mark 6.34  saw a large crowd and felt compassion for them (and healed them in Matt.)
·      Matthew 15.32//Mark 8.2  Jesus feels compassion for 4000 people who need food
·      Matthew 18.27  in parable, the lord feels compassion toward his slave and forgives his debt
·      Matthew 20.34  Jesus feels compassion toward two blind men as he is going into Jerusalem
·      Mark 1.41  Jesus’ compassion for a leper who he heals
·      Mark 9.22  father of demonized boy pleads for Jesus to have compassion
·      Luke 7.13  Jesus’ compassion for a woman with a dead son
·      Luke 10.33  good Samaritan’s compassion for injured man
·      Luke 15.20  father of the prodigal son

“Matthew tells us that when Jesus saw the great multitude he had compassion for them and healed their sick (Matt. 14:14).  My question is simple: As the exalted Son of God looks down from the right hand of the Majesty on High, does he feel differently toward the sick and infirm?  Is he now apathetic toward their pain?  No one denies that miraculous healing now is less frequent than it was then.  But what shall be our response to this?  Personally, I am not content to deal with this problem by minimizing, if not denying, compassion as a preeminent factor in why God heals the sick.  I would rather ground my confidence in the immutability of God’s character, lay prayerful hands on the sick with the unfailing assurance that whereas the church may have changed, God has not, and live with the mystery of unanswered prayer until Jesus returns.”[6]

5.     Miracles in Mark

a.     “Twenty miracle stories and summaries of healings account for almost one-third of Mark’s Gospel and nearly one-half of the first ten chapters, a proportion greater than in any other Gospel.”[7]

b.     “While there are many miracles before the passion narrative, apart from that of the cursing of the fig tree, no further miracle stories are related after commences.  This has the effect of leaving the reader with the impression that Jesus, the powerful miracle worker, identified as the Messiah and God, is being portrayed as choosing to offer himself powerless into the hands of the authorities in order to die (cf. Mk 10:45).”[8]

6.     Laying on hands/touch in healing

a.     Jesus often uses his hands in healing

                                               i.     Mark 1.31  “taking her [Peter’s mother-in-law] by the hand”

                                              ii.     Mark 1.41  leper; “stretched out his hand and touched him”

                                            iii.     Mark 5.23, 41  Jarius; “lay your hands on her,” “taking the child by the hand”

                                            iv.     Mark 6.2, 5  hometown people; “…and such miracles as these performed by his hands,” “he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them”

                                              v.     Mark 7.32-33  deaf man with speaking disability; “…and they implored him to lay his hand on him… and put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting, he touched his tongue with the saliva”

                                            vi.     Mark 8.22-23, 25  blind man; “implored him to touch him,” “spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him,” “again he laid his hands on his eyes”

* People touch or seek to touch Jesus: Mark 3.10; 5.26-27; 6.56

b.     Jesus doesn’t always use touch

                                               i.     Mark 1.25  unclean spirit; speaks

                                              ii.     Mark 2.11  paralytic; speaks

                                            iii.     Mark 3.5  man with withered hand; speaks

                                            iv.     Mark 5.8-13  demoniac with “legion”; speaks

                                              v.     Mark 7.29-30  Syrophoenician woman’s daughter with a demon; thinks

                                            vi.     Mark 9.25, 27  demonized boy; rebukes the spirit, “took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up”

                                           vii.     Mark 10.52  Bartimaeus (blind); speaks

c.      “It appears that the miracles of healing by a mere touch of his hand ascribed to Jesus are unique… Thus πτομαι in the sense of ‘touch-for-healing’ is really a word from the Christian vocabulary.  It would seem that the practice described goes back on Jesus himself, who broke the barriers of uncleanness reaching out to the sick and allowing them to touch him.”[9]

d.     Followers of Jesus continue the laying on of hands for healing[10]

                                               i.     Mark 16.18 “they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover”[11]

                                              ii.     Acts 5.12; 9.17; 14.3; 19.11; 28.8

                                            iii.     “Since there was, as with the other means of grace, no automatic or magical power inherent in the hands of the early Christians, but healing and other kinds of blessing only came as God himself was pleased to work through the laying on of hands, it is not surprising that the early church prayed specifically that God would stretch forth his hand to heal… They realized that while they stretched forth their hands to touch those were sick it would not be effective at all unless God’s own mighty hand of power was working through their hands.”[12] (see Acts 4.29-30)

e.     Application: Pray for someone with the laying on of hands!

7.     Next week: Mark 8.27—10.52

a.     Remember the “hinge”!  Mark 8.27-30

b.     Consider the following chart as you read:

Jesus predicts his death
Disciples misunderstand
Jesus teaches about the cost of discipleship
9.32 (33-34)
                                               i.     What do you observe about Jesus’ predictions?
                                              ii.     In what ways do the disciples misunderstand?
                                            iii.     What does Jesus say about discipleship?

c.      In this section (8.27—10.52) watch for the geographical markers.  Trace on a map where Jesus travels.

d.     What especially moved you?  Any thing new you saw in your reading?

     [1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1998), 179.
     [2] These two aspects are marked out by two “hina” (ἵνα)clauses which show that there are two purposes under discussion.
     [3] Robert H. Stein, Mark BECNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008), 352.
     [4] P. W. Smuts, Mark By the Book: A New Multidirectional Method for Understanding the Synoptic Gospels (Phillipsburg, Penn.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2013), 97.
     [5] Robert H. Stein, Difficult Passages in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1990), 115.
     [6] Sam Storms in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views (ed. Wayne Grudem; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 323-324.  Also see my blog post, “Praying the Character of God” for a quotation by Charles Spurgeon in which he speaks of “laying hold upon God in his own revealed character” in relation to bodily pain he was experiencing.  Online:
     [7] Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1999), 57.
     [8] Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker, 95.
     [9] Pieter J. Lalleman, “Healing by a Mere Touch as a Christian Concept” Tyndale Bulletin 48 (1997), 361.
     [10] “The laying on of hands/touch used by the apostles in healing appears to be indistinguishable in form from the gesture used by Jesus.”  John F. Tipei, “The Function of the Laying on of Hands in the New Testament” The Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association 20 (2000), 103.
     [11] “Whether or not these words go back to Jesus, they surely reflect the practice of the church in the apostolic and sub-apostolic period.” John F. Tipei, “The Function of the Laying on of Hands in the New Testament” The Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association 20 (2000), 100-101.
     [12] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1994), 960-961.