Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Year: Mark 1-2 for Oct 20

(Matthew 3:1 - 12:8 and Luke 3:1 - 6:5 cover the same period as Mark 1-2, when we view them "synoptically.")

By the end of this very first chapter of Mark we are confronted with a figure of history whose appearance is like nothing if not "the Son of God" (1:1) -- Mark states the title, but we must fill its meaning in, inductively: we can see the unchangeableness and goodness of the Creator combined with the energetic goodness of the repeated and frequent actions of One to whom God says "in You I am well-pleased" (1:11).

This compelling action undertaken by "Jesus Christ, the Son of God" starts after John had been taken into custody. Repeatedly Mark mentions "preaching" (1:14,38, 39), teaching (1:21,22,27), and casting out what Mark calls unclean spirits and demons (1:23,26,27,34).

The compelling action Christ undertakes extends to His calls to His disciples: the calls are more like calls to join the Seals than the calls of a teacher or even preacher (1:17, 20). As God's "messenger" (1:2) there is need to go around to many cities (1:38), and the agenda does not change regarding His taking the initiative: it is the same initiative at the beginning, when nobody knew Him, to later, when everybody looked for Him (1:37). He does not surrender the initiative of His ministry up to others.

When we go behind the scenes and behind the doors (1:29ff) even though crowds will certainly be coming. there it is peace, healing (1:31), and regularity (2:13), though of an unexpected kind (2:16,18,24).

Thus the religious conflict between Christ and the scribes (2:6) does not at first come about through antagonism to His person as such, as in pure animosity, but because of the fact that they can't stomach the content of what He is saying (2:5,7). Christ does not dismiss their uneasiness, but addresses it (2:8-10). The teaching is bursting the skins of the existing system, however. This is stated as a principle or parable (2:21-22), as well as starkly and directly (2:28).

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