Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
Mark inserts this summary statement of Jesus ministry within the midst of a number of controversy stories which he has gathered.
So we can see the reason for this inclusion at this particluar point it will be helpfull to see a list of the conflicts which Jesus is involved in throughout chapters 2-3.
Mark 2:1-12 Blasphemy. Who can forgive sin but God alone? v7
Mark 2:13-17 Eating with Sinners and Tax Collectors
Mark 2:18-22 The disciples do not fast
Mark 2:23-27 Sabbath controversy- plucking grain
Mark 3:1-6 Healing on Sabbath
Mark 3:7-12 Conflict with Spirits
Mark 3:13-20 Family say ‘He is out of his mind’
Mark 3:22-30 Possessed by Beelzebub
Mark 3:31-35 Conflict with Family
In the light of these conflict stories it is likely that Mark has included this summary statement as a contrast to the conflict stories. Although Jesus faced conflict from the religious elite, crowds still followed him from all over. Jesus healings no doubt made him a popular figure in the the surrounding areas.
Kingdom work, as the parable of the sower illustartes, brings about a number of differant responses from people.
Another summary statement is found in Mark 6:53-56. The basis of his popularity is not that the crowds wnat to hear a rationlistic 3 point sermon. No, the crowds gather for a reason greater than intellectual knowledge. they want their lives changed, their communties changed, the want physical and spirtual needs to be met.
v11-12. Jesus came as the bringer of the new age. This new age had forces which were opposed to it. Many 2nd temple Jews would have been clear in locating the enemy as the Roman empire. Instead, Jesus shows that the enemy is notoutside the covenanal community, but within–that is members of the Judaic community were possessed by evil. The battle is not with the Romans, the battle is within the Judaic community and within individuals.
Jesus subdues these spirits who cry out that he is ‘the son of God’. Is Mark/Jesus using Nicene Christology to show that that Jesus is the second member of the trinity. Within scholarship their is debate on the meanign of the phrase ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (son of God). At a popular evangelcial level,with a naive realist reading of the text, it seems obvious that a ‘nicene theology’ reading of this text is correct. I want to offer a challange to this normal reading.
Divine sonship appears in the old testament as a reference to (I)Angels (gen 6:2, Job 1:6), (II)Israel (ex 4:22-23, Hos 11:1) and the (III)king. within the dead sea scrolls divine sonship became connected with the notion of the messiah (4QFlor1/l10-14). Within a Jewish background we could narrow the use within the gospels to that of Jesus being likenend to a Davidic type king who will bring a restoration of Israel, or as somehow Jesus presenting Israel in his own life and minsitry. Israel were called to be a blessing to other, Jesus is doing this in his own ministry.
Son of God is mentioned in Mark 4 times
See also Mark 5:7 (son of the most high)
Although he is called the ‘son’ in whom God is well pleased in Mark 1:11 and Mark 9:7. These 2 passages certainly reflect an Isaiah 53 background where the servant/son is likley to be identified as Israel.
I have just searched a few N.T. Wright articles and found the following,
Later Christian theologians, forgetting their Jewish roots, would of course read this as straightforwardly Nicene christology: Jesus was the second person of the Trinity. Many have assumed that this is meant by the phrase in John and Hebrews, though that assumption should probably be challenged. Paul’s usage, though, is much subtler and offers further clues not only as to what the earliest Christians believed, but why “Son of God” in Jewish thought was used occasionally for angels, sometimes for Israel (e. g. Exod 4:22), and sometimes for the king. These latter uses (such as 2 Sam 7:14, Psa 2:7 and Ps 89:27) were influential both in sectarian Judaism (“son of God” is found as a messianic title at Qumran and in early Christianity. Since, the early Christians all regarded Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, the one in whom Israel’s destiny had been summed up, it is not surprising, whatever language Jesus had or had not used of himself, that they exploited this phrase—it is perhaps too formal and too redolent of the wrong way of doing NT christology to call it a “title”—which was available both in their Bible and their surrounding culture to denote Jesus and to connote his Messiahship
JESUS AND THE IDENTITY OF GOD (Originally published in Ex Auditu 1998, 14, 42–56.
I hope I have done enough to encouarge you to think about Jewish use of the word ‘son of God’. I do want to state in closing though that I do hold to a trinitarian view of the Godhead, I just just do not think that we arrive their by simply reading the phrase ‘son of God’.
When Jesus is identified as the son of God, his ministry, his life script, is being informed by davidic kingship and the notion of being Israel, when israel has failed, and that Jesus will ultimately take the exilic punishment of Israel upon himself.
I will just explain how I write my blogs on Mark. I go through the text with my commentaries open. I type my comments as I go and I do not re-edit them. The downside of this is that my comments often lack structure and clarity. The positive side to this is that it means my blogs are less time consuming and will thereby be more frequent. Please feel free to add comments and ask questions.