Friday, October 21, 2011

New Year: Mark 3-5 for Oct 21

Mark's own way of describing the teaching of Jesus in the context of His ministry is to encourage the reader to put two and two together.

(Matthew 12:9 - 13:52 and Luke 6:6 - 8:56 cover the same period as Mark 3-5, when we view them "synoptically.")

For example Mark 1:1 puts forth as the first thing we know about Him, that He is the Son of God. The next verse, describing Him as the OT Messenger, quotes two passages, saying in effect, put them together. In 1:17 Mark gives the invitation to discipleship for two brothers, and allows us to use it to modify our shock at the actions of the next two in 1:20. In 1:38, the Messenger goes on to more towns ... we need that explanation to understand His healing ministry.

Part of Mark 4 is a series of parables, which implicitly invites us to put two and two together. What could be behind productiveness, and non-productiveness in the parable of the sower and soils (4:1-9)? Could it be in another saying closeby, such as 4:24-25, as well as the other juxtaposed sayings and parables? If we combine thoughts, there is a sense that things that have happened, even sadder ones such as the crowds not understanding Him according to plan (4:12), or the disciples being chosen, including one who betrayed Him later, are according to plan (3:13). The sower is sowing -- the word, which is something that is purposive (4:14).


Larry said...

There is another explanation than that commonly offered for the Mark 4:12 saying, (ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσι καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσι καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν, μήποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς.) The explanation commonly offered is that Mark is showing an aspect of Jesus' teaching that confirms that the effects of His teaching will not be fruitful to those whom God has not favored, and that He has not favored them, because of their prior condition.

However, if you read the parable as Jesus explaining, not the determinative causation by the soils of what happens, but the intended purposed effect of the sower's work in every case, then the parables are taught to "those who are outside" (Mk 4:11) in a way that makes it impossible for the unfruitful cases to be healed. In the first case, God is responder to the condition of the soil, even though it seems to be chance that he sowed something in unfruitful places. In the second case, God does not sow the secrets of the kingdom of heaven in the wrong places by chance, but "those who are outside get everything in parables" so that they will not, by chance even, see, hear, and understand. What seems like seed falling unintendly, becomes not unintendly.

Larry said...

The above comment has the consequence that the teaching of the parable of the sower in Mk 4:1-12 is that sowing the seed does not leave the results up to chance, but that neither does it leave a mismatch between soil and outcome possible. What the soil is already, not chance, together with the use of parables itself, is why what takes its course, take its course.

Is that absolute predetermination of all outcomes, by God? It does not say that God predetermines the soil, but that given the soil, there is no case of bad soil getting the seeing, knowledge, and healing. So is not to say that it is God who closes the good reception of the Word to those who are outside in some kind of prior determination, but that those who are outside -- for whatever reason they are -- will not be able to see, hear, understand, etc. No mistakes are made in the sowing of the seed. In fact, the grant of Jesus, in Mk 4:23, is an invitation to believe that the ear that can hear, will hear.


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