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Posts Tagged ‘Mark’s Gospel’

 

Jesus comes down from the mount of transfiguration to discover his disciples are involved in a dispute with the Scribes. A crowd have gathered who are greatly amazed (ἐξεθαμβήθησαν) when they see Him.  Some commentators have suggested that it is because Jesus face is still shining from the transfiguration. However this text makes sense without this interpretation as people were no doubt excited to see a man whom so many have talked about. Jesus ministry is gaining popular approval .

Jesus seeks to find out the cause of the dispute. The focus of the story now switches from that of groups (disciples, scribes, crowds) to the plight of a father whose son has a ‘spirit that makes him mute’.  The father had sought help from the disciples but they were not able to cast out the spirit. The stage has been set, Is Jesus greater than his disciples? Is Jesus able to do what the disciples could not? The desciples lacked strength (οὐκ ἴσχυσαν ), will Jesus?

Jesus does not immediately heal the boy but calls the generation unbelieving ( γενεὰ ἄπιστος ). Mark’s gospel is full of sayings about faith/belief. See 2:5, 4:40, 5:34, 19:52, 11:22-23).  Jesus accuses the generation of being unbelieving.  One is reminded of  Deut 32:5, Numbers 14:11 and Is 65:2 which speaks of the rebellion of God’s own people. Jesus came to heal and restore and bring the kingdom.  He also offered a challenge to those who were living lives of rebellion.

The boy was brought to Jesus and the spirit took over the boy. The presence of Jesus causes evil to raise its head. (Mark 1:23-26, 34, 3:11-12, 5:6-13).  Jesus looks to the father for faith, in contrast to the faithlessness of the generation.  The man is weak in faith, perhaps due to numerous failed visits he had made with exorcists and the inability of the disciples.

True faith is always aware how small and inadequate it is. The father becomes a believer not when he amasses a sufficient quantum of faith but when he risks everything on what little faith he has, when he yields his insufficiency to the true sufficiency of Jesus, “ ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ ” The risk of faith is more costly to the father than bringing his son to Jesus, for he can talk about his son but he must “cry out” (Gk. krazein) for faith.103 True faith takes no confidence in itself, nor does it judge Jesus by the weakness of his followers. It looks to the More Powerful One (1:7) who stands in the place of God, whose authoritative word restores life from chaos. True faith is unconditional openness to God, a decision in the face of all to the contrary that Jesus is able.

Edwards, James R.: The Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids, Mich; Leicester, England : Eerdmans; Apollos, 2002 (The Pillar New Testament Commentary), S. 278 

Jesus commands the spirit in the first person (I command you) and it is not in the name of YHWH or one of the prophets.  Jesus has power, he could do what others could not. He has authority.

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Mark 6:53-56 (ESV)
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

This summary statement does not mention teaching or exorcism. See 1:14-14,39;2:2,13;4:1-2,6:2,6). Within tnis section of the gospel Mark is being portrayed as a miracle worker. I thought it might be of use to look at what N.T. Wright has to say in his ‘Jesus and the Victory of God’ on the topic of miracles. N.T. Wright’s discussions of miracles in his large blue Jesus book are limited. He spends only 10 pages or so giving an overview with odd comments mentioned throughout. I wonder whether this is a deliberate ploy (and it’s a fair one) to make his historical Jesus research more acceptable in the wider ‘historical Jesus‘ scholarship.Wright is not a methodlogical naturalist. However, this overview is brilliant for showing the connection between healings and covenant membership/return from exile.

‘..Jesus’ healing miracles must be seen clearly as bestowing the gift of shalom, wholeness, to those who lacked it, bringing not only physical health but renewed membership of the covenant people of YHWH. Many of the people Jesus healed came into one of these banned categories….[blindness, lepers, deaf, dumb, gentiles] The effect of these cures, therefore, was not merely to bring physical healing; not merely to give humans, within a far less individualistic society than our modern western one, a renewed sense of community membership.’ page 192

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