Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gospel of Mark Study (7)

Gospel of Mark Study
Week Seven

1.     “Approximately forty-percent of the book (chapters 11-15) details Jesus’ passion week… One way ancient writers emphasized an event was by devoting a significant amount of space to it.  Mark devotes ten chapters to a ministry that lasted about three years.  As mentioned above, he devotes six chapters to the final week, beginning with Jesus’ triumphal entry and concluding with the empty tomb.”[1]

2.     Anointing of Jesus for burial (Mark 14.1-9) - cf. Matthew 26.6-13; John 12.1-8

a.     NOTES: Comparing the Gospels accounts

                                               i.     Matthew and Mark are very close in their presentations of this episode.  John mentions that Lazarus, Martha and Mary are there.  John tells us that woman who poured the perfume was Mary (John 12.3).  Some are tempted to see a contradiction in the accounts.  In John it seems like it is Lazarus’ house but Matthew and Mark  say it was Simon the Leper’s house.  But notice that John does not say it was Lazarus’ house.  It just says that Lazarus was there (“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was…” John 12.1).

                                              ii.     Question: Why do Matthew, Mark and Luke not mention Lazarus (his raising from dead, etc.)?  Possible answer: When Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote perhaps Lazarus was still in danger.  Lazarus was in danger at the time of Jesus (John 12.10-11).  Perhaps Matthew, Mark and Luke are written pre-AD 70 and John is written post-AD 70.  If Lazarus is still alive after the destruction of Jerusalem he is perhaps safer since the power structure that wanted Lazarus dead is no more or rendered ineffective.  Also, perhaps, when John wrote his Gospel Lazarus had died (again!) and thus is no longer a target.

b.     Passage is about Jesus

                                               i.     “she has a good deed to me” (v. 6)
                                              ii.     “but you do not always have me.”  (v. 7)
                                            iii.     “she has anointed my body” (v. 8)

c.      “Jesus distinguishes between giving to the poor and the extravagance lavished on himself on the grounds that he will not always be there to receive it… Implicitly, the distinction Jesus makes is a high Christological claim, for it not only shows that he foresees his impending departure but also the he himself, who is truly ‘gentle and humble in heart’ ([Matt] 11:29), deserves this lavish outpouring of love and expense.”[2]

d.     Verse 9 is high praise! “Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

·      interesting that her name is not mentioned here in Mark

3.     Jesus’ predictions that show he is fully aware of what it is happening.  He is not be taken unawares by chance circumstances

a.     Preparation for Passover meal (14.12-16)
b.     Betrayal (14.17-21)
c.      Disciples fall away (14.27-28)
d.     Denial by Peter (14.29-31)

4.     Fulfillment of Scriptures - everything is proceeding according to God’s plan

a.     “For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of him” (14.21)
b.     “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’” (14.27)
c.      “Everyday I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” (14.49)

5.     Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane (Mark 14.32-42)

a.     “…began to be very distressed and troubled.  And he said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death…” (vv 33b-34a)

b.     “What is this cup?  Is it physical suffering from which he shrinks, the torture of the scourge and the cross, together perhaps with the mental anguish of betrayal, denial and desertion by his friends, and the mockery and abuse of his enemies?  Nothing could ever make me believe that the cup Jesus dreaded was any of these things (grievous as they were) or all of them together.  His physical and moral courage throughout his public ministry had been indomitable.  To me it is ludicrous to suppose that he was now afraid of pain, insult and death.  Socrates in the prison cell in Athens, according to Plato’s account, took his cup of hemlock ‘without trembling or changing colour or expression’.  He then ‘raised the cup to his lips, and very cheerfully and quietly drained it’.  When his friends burst into tears, he rebuked them for their ‘absurd’ behaviour and urged them to ‘keep quiet and be brave’.  He died without fear, sorrow or protest.  So was Socrates braver than Jesus?  Or were their cups filled with different poisons?”[3]

c.      “We turn back to that lonely figure in the Gethsemane olive orchard—prostrate, sweating, overwhelmed with grief and dread, begging if possible to be spared the drinking of the cup.  The martyrs were joyful, but he was sorrowful; they were eager, but he was reluctant.  How can we compare them?  How could they have gained their inspiration from him if he had faltered when they did not?  Besides, up till now he had been clear-sighted about the necessity of his sufferings and death, determined to fulfil his destiny, and vehement in opposing any who sought to deflect him.  Had all that suddenly changed?  Was he now after all, when the moment of testing came, a coward?  No, no!  All the evidence of his former teaching, character and behaviour is against such a conclusion.

“In that case the cup from which he shrank was something different.  It symbolized neither the physical pain of being flogged and crucified, nor the mental distress of being despised and rejected even by his own people, but rather the spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world, in other words, of enduring the divine judgment which those sins deserved.”[4]

d.     Cup of God’s wrath: Job 21.20; Psalm 75.8; Isaiah 51.17-22; Jeremiah 25.15-29 (cf. Habakkuk 2.16); Jeremiah 49.12; Ezekiel 23.32-34; Revelation 14.10; 16.1ff; 18.6.

e.     Mark 14.38 “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

                                               i.     Practical insight: prayer is needed for our fight against temptation

                                              ii.     If Peter had labored in prayer would he have had the resources to fight the temptation to deny Jesus?

6.     Mark 14.61-62

a.     Three titles linked together

                                               i.     Christ
                                              ii.     Son of the Blessed One (i.e., Son of God)
                                            iii.     Son of Man

b.     Linked with Jesus’ claim to do away with temple (14.58)

                                               i.     Temple is not the place of God’s presence

                                              ii.     The presence of God is where Jesus is

                                            iii.     “The trial opened, as it was bound to do, with the question about the Temple.  Jesus had claimed authority over it, authority indeed to declare its destruction.  This could only be because he believed himself to be the Messiah?  Yes, answered Jesus: and you will see me vindicated, enthroned at the right hand of Power.  The whole sequence belongs to together precisely as a whole.  The final answer drew into one statement the significance of the journey to Jerusalem, the Temple-action, and the implicit messianic claim.  Together they said that Jesus, not the Temple, was the clue to, and the location of, the presence of Israel’s god with his people… Theologically, it was either true or it was blasphemous.  Caiaphas wasted no time considering the former possibility.”[5]

7.     Next week: Mark 15.1-16.8 (read the larger ending too, 16.9-20)

a.     Read meditatively.  In coming to the crucifixion of our Savior we are on holy ground.  Enter the text with your mind and imagination. 

b.     How often do you consider the suffering Jesus endured for you? 

c.      Compose a written prayer to Jesus of thankfulness in light of Mark 15. 

d.     What is your response to Jesus’ cry of forsakenness (15.34)?

e.     Consider the importance that in 15.39 there is the first declaration of Jesus being the Son of God by a human.  Who is it that says this?  Do you think he knew the full implications of what he was saying?

f.      If Mark 16.8 is the actual ending of Mark why do think that Mark did not give us more about the resurrection appearances?

     [1] William F. Cook III, “The Passion of the Christ According to the Gospel of Mark” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 8 (2004), 86.  Online:
     [2] D. A. Carson, Matthew in Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1984), 527.
     [3] John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1986), 74.  The quotations from Plato are from Phaedo, 117-118.
     [4] John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1986), 75-76.
     [5] N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1996), 644.