Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gospel of Mark Study (2)

Gospel of Mark Study
Week Two

1.     Observation, Interpretation, and Application

a.     Example: man on roof with gun

b.     Example: P.O.W. and favorite colors

2.     Jesus’ authority over:

a.     Demons (1.23-28)

b.     Sickness (1.29-39)

c.      Impurity (1.40-45; 5.21-43)

                                               i.     Leper
                                              ii.     Woman with flow of blood
                                            iii.     Dead body

·      See Numbers 5.1-4!

·      “As Joel Marcus notes, these three cleansings/healings—leprosy (see Mark 1:40-45), blood flow, and death—correspond to the three types of people who were to be excluded from the camp of Israel (Num 5:1-5).”[1]

d.     Sins: able to forgive them (2.1-13)

                                               i.     “Up to this point, all Jesus’ activities in Mark are commensurate with his being a charismatic healer: gathering followers, teaching, casting out demons and healing.  But in forgiving sins Jesus’ action is without parallel and is outside the scope of the law.  Besides there is nothing known in any Jewish literature of any person, including the Messiah, who can or would be able to forgive sin, except God.  Therefore, although Jesus is being portrayed as a healer, he is more than that: in his healing (and forgiving) he is acting for God or, perhaps, even as God.”[2]

e.     Sabbath (2.23-3.6)

f.      Nature (4.35-41; 6.45-52)

                                               i.     “The remarkable parallel in this story [4.35-41] to that of Jonah, which has long been noted, makes it hard to avoid the conclusion that Mark had this Old Testament story in mind.  As the sleeping Jonah is roused and asked to pray for help (Jon 1:6), Jesus is awakened and speaks to the wind and sea (Mark 4:39).  Then, just like God in the Old Testament, Jesus gains authority over the natural elements…. In view of the testimony of demons (e.g., Mk 3:11) and of God himself (1:11), the readers can conclude not only that Jesus is the Son of God (c.f. 1:1).  What they must conclude will become clear in the parallel to this story: Jesus walking on the water (6:45-52).”[3]

                                              ii.     “But he is also showing that in this epiphany [6.45-52] Jesus has been revealed not only as directly empowered by God but also as God uniquely present.  This conclusion is corroborated by the Old Testament assertion that God can control the wind (Ps 104:4; 107:25-30) and that only God is able to walk on the waves (Job 9:8).”[4]

g.     Death (5.35-43)

3.     Observation, Interpretation, and Application of the above material…

a.     Observations: see above

b.     Interpretation: Jesus is one who has authority to stand in the place of God and do the things that God does

c.      Applications

                                               i.     Jesus is worthy to be worshipped.  Will I worship?
                                              ii.     Jesus is worthy to be followed?  Am I following him with full faith?
                                            iii.     Jesus can be trusted.  Am I trusting him with everything?

4.     Hemorrhaging woman and Jarius’ daughter à Mark 5.22-43

One obvious reason these two miracles are kept together may be that these two healings are accurately remembered to have happened in quick succession so the Synoptic Gospels all put these together (Matthew 9.18-26; Mark 5.22-43; Luke 8.41-56).  Indeed, the intrusion of the hemorrhaging woman delays Jesus a bit from coming to heal Jairus’ daughter.  Besides this historical remembrance there are a number of thematic parallels between the two episodes.[5]

Mark 5.22-43

Hemorrhaging Woman
Jairus’ Daughter
Number “12”

She has “had a hemorrhage for twelve years” (v. 25)
“…for she was twelve years old.” (v. 42)

Jesus addresses her as “daughter” (v. 34)
Jarius refers to her as, “My little daughter” (v. 23)
Wealthy background
She “had spent all that she had” (v. 25)
Daughter is lying in a separate room.  This would be a sign of wealth for the family.

Woman touches Jesus (v. 27)
Jesus takes “the child by the hand” (v. 41)

Jesus mentions woman’s faith      (v. 34)
Jesus urges, “Do not be afraid, only believe” (v. 36)
Restoration of Fertility
Potential restoration of fertility due to healing of hemorrhaging (v. 29)
Culturally marriageable age (12); raised up to potentially marry/bear children
Ritual Impurity

Menstrual impurity based on Leviticus 15.25-30
Dead body becomes a source of uncleanness (Numbers 19.11-13)

In light of the last element mentioned in the chart—ritual impurity—the words of N. T. Wright are helpful:

Jesus’ healings, which formed a central and vital part of his whole symbolic praxis, are not to be seen, as some of the early fathers supposed, as “evidence of his divinity.”  Nor were his healings simply evidence of his compassion for those in physical need, though of course they were that as well.  No: the healings were the symbolic expression of Jesus’ reconstitution of Israel.  This can be seen to good effect in the contrast between Jesus’ agenda and that of Qumran.  Read the so-called “messianic rule” from Qumran (1QSa).  There the blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb were excluded from membership in the community of God’s restored people.  The rigid—ruthless, one might say—application of certain purity laws meant a restrictive, exclusive community.  Jesus’ approach was the opposite.  His healings were the sign of a radical and healing inclusivism—not simply including everyone in a modern, laissez-faire, anything-goes fashion but dealing with the problems at the root so as to bring to birth a truly renewed, restored community whose new life would symbolize and embody the kingdom of which Jesus was speaking.[6]

Jesus manifests a “contagious holiness.”  When Jesus touches or is touched by those who are ritually impure he is able to communicate to them cleanliness.  The usual direction was for those who were ritually impure to contaminate others but in and through Jesus there flows healing, wholeness, and purity.  He is not contaminated but, rather, purifies others.

5.     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.’”[7]

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”[8]

c.      Jesus is the example they are to follow

6.     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.”[9]

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).”[10]

7.     Next week: Mark 6.7-8.26

a.     Why is there a big section (6.14-29) about John the Baptist?  Of what significance is this for the ministry of Jesus and the Twelve?  (Hint: Watch for what immediately precedes this story (6.7-13) and what immediately follows (Mark 6.30).

b.     Watch for what we continue to learn about the authority and identity of Jesus in chapters 6-8.26 in terms of Jesus’ teaching and miracles.  What does Jesus demonstrate authority over?

c.      As you consider the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 think about any Old Testament precedents for people being miraculously fed with bread.  How might this help us understand Jesus?

d.     What were you challenged with or moved emotionally with as you read?

[1] John DelHousaye, “Jesus and Jewish Menstruation Traditions: Implications for the Liberation of Women” (Unpublished paper), 7 quoting Joel Marcus, Mark 1-8: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 27; New York: Doubleday & Company, 2000), 367.
     [2] Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1999), 65.
     [3] Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1999), 70-71.
     [4] Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1999), 78.
     [5]  John DelHousaye, “Jesus and Jewish Menstruation Traditions: Implications for the Liberation of Women” (Unpublished paper), 4-5.
     [6]  N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus (Downers Grove: IVP, 1999), 68-69.
     [7] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1998), 179.
     [8] These two aspects are marked out by two “hina” (ἵνα)clauses which show that there are two purposes under discussion.
     [9] Graham H. Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1999), 57.
     [10] Twelftree, Jesus the Miracle Worker, 95.