Posts Tagged ‘Mark’s Gospel’

Mark 1: 16-20 – the first disciples are called

October 19, 2009
Sea of Galilee fro Tiberias

Sea of Galilee from Tiberias

16  Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

Ordinary men.  Not rabbis or learned men. Jesus appeals to everyman.

Jesus’ appears first to the disciples at Galilee and some of his last appearances to them are there too (John 21:1-23, Matt 28: 16-20, Mark 16: 15-18)

Palestinian fishermen17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

One of my favourite verses!  The expression Jesus uses is metaphorical.  He often does not speak literally during his earthly ministry.  Much of what he says is obscure.  He teaches in parables. What he teaches needs wrestling with, pondering, meditating on… for the rest of our lives.

18And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

This is different to the account given in John’s Gospel and Luke.  Mark chose to emphasise the immediacy of their response.  This for me indicates how very compelling Jesus was to them, that Simon (Peter) and Andrew left their families, livelihood and all they knew to follow Jesus into an unknown future.  Mark’s gospel emphasises the power of Jesus and here it is exemplified in the response of Peter and Andrew.  If only we could react as decisively and follow Jesus so completely!

19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Mark uses immediately again.  This time it is Jesus who acts immediately.  His omniscience enables him to choose/know his disciples instantaneously.

Following Jesus will sometimes mean families are divided.  There can be a cost.  Lives are changed – irrecoverably.

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Mark 1: 9-15

October 15, 2009

Yesterday’s post on whether immersion or baptism was the best translation of baptidzo evoked this response from a friend on Berean Spirit.  I wanted to share as it is so powerful:

Some thoughts on Immerse and the beauty of it. As I read what you wrote I could not help but think of the water covering my body. I was covered! I was covered by his blood! I was covered by His forgiveness! I was Immersed in His Spirit!  I have been engulfed by His all! He has embraced me totally! I can’t get out of His embrace for it is for eternity! I have been IMMERSED in His love! My old man has been drowned/immersed!

Thanks, Gerry Parker.  That spoke to me today.

Now to Mark:

9(R) In those days Jesus(S) came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Interesting how Mark uses adverbs and adverbial phrases of time.  Lots of instances of immediately.  Here we have In those days. The NLT has one day.  Mark’s accound is vivid, succinct, pacy.

Our first indication of where Jesus is from (geographically)  is in this verse.

Piero della Francesca's Baptism of Christ

Piero della Francesca's Baptism of Christ

Why was Jesus baptized?  The answer I usually get when I ask that is “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15) which isn’t a satisfying answer for me.  Jesus was and is all righteousness.  Surely he didnt have to be baptized to fulfill righteousness? However baptism did identify him with righteousness and that righteousness will be the justification for our sins.  It was a public statement proclaiming the inauguration of his public ministry.  It announced to the world (well the quiet backwater of Judea initially – the world was to hear later) that God was walking amongst us and about to start his work.

Did he have to fulfill the requirements for priesthood which include washing with water  and the anointing with the Holy Spirit?  This is a new idea I have just been exposed to.  Comments, please!  Heb 2: 17 & 18 seem to support this.

Fra Angelico's Baptism of Christ

Fra Angelico's Baptism of Christ

10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he(T) saw(U) the heavens being torn open(V) and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And(W) a voice came from heaven,(X) “You are my beloved Son;[d] with you I am well pleased.”

Imagery used in the account of Noah abounds.  The water, the dove, the sign from heaven. The tearing open of heaven foreshadows the death of Jesus when the curtain is torn in the temple, the sun stopped shining and Jesus’ spirit leaves him to return “up” to the Father.  (Matt 27:50)

We also have all the persons of the Trinity here – father, son, spirit.   In verse 1 Mark proclaimed Jesus the son of God.  Here God the father does so.  And the father expresses his delight in his son.  God is about relationship.

This explains the reasons for Jesus’ baptism fully.

William Blake's The Baptism of Christ

William Blake's The Baptism of Christ

12(Y) The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13(Z) And he was in the wilderness forty days, being(AA) tempted by(AB) Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and(AC) the angels were ministering to him.

40 is significant.  The Jews wandered 40 years in the desert.  Jesus is in the desert here, being tested and proven the true Israelite.  He follows the precedent of Moses and Elijah too. Angels attended Jesus as they had attended Israel in the desert.  The contrast of Jesus and Satan in the desert with wild beasts on the one hand and angels on the other is a very visual image for us to conjure

14(AD) Now after John was arrested, Jesus(AE) came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, (AF) “The time is fulfilled, and(AG) the kingdom of God is at hand;(AH) repent and believe in the gospel.”

The pace picks up.  John has been arrested (we need to go to Matthew and Luke for details) and the kindgom is at hand!  Another mention of the need for repentance in just 15 verses.  We need to repent and believe the good news to be part of the kingdom.

Excitement mounts – how will Jesus display his deity?  How will the kingdom be ushered in?

Blogging through the Gospels: Mark 1: 1-8

October 14, 2009

Immersion in Christ – Mark’s Gospel

I discuss the Bible in a couple of Yahoo Groups, one in particular.  I have learned an enormous amount in the 3 years I have been on this list especially but the same topics seem to be discussed ad infinitum.  I have some quite different views from many on the list and I enjoy presenting my views and interacting with the list members, some of whom are close friends and I consider them mentors (even if we don’t have identical perspectives).

Recently as some of my views have changed, I have been reading Christian blogs more, searching for different approaches that make sense to me and that I can accept intellectually as well as spiritually.  As one of my favourite bloggers, Michael Spencer – the Internet Monk, said in a post today:
I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot recently, but I’m far more interested in a person coming to a position of honesty and integrity than I am in maintaining labels that aren’t working. The choice between a phony Christian profession and honest doubt is not a hard one for me.

I can’t maintain the label of “strictly evangelical” any longer.  However, some of my friends see my change of perspective as the beginning of a slippery slope towards a loss of faith. This is far from the truth – my journey is towards a more authentic faith where I am not forced to try to reconcile interpretations which I cannot accept.   I was challenged to spend as much time in the gospels as I do in the blogs. Now this is a fair comment (I spend too much time blog reading and not enough in the Word) and one I have taken to heart.  I need to feed on spiritual bread and drink of the living water. I have been inspired by Nick Gill’s commitment to blogging his way through the Bible and decided to blog my way through the Gospels. I will post in my group (Berean Spirit) as well as here. And as my blog is networked to facebook, it will post there too.

For various reasons I have decided to stick with looking at one gospel at a time. (Some in Berean Spirit  suggested a chronological study of Jesus’ life). It is more manageable, and I don’t want to commit to something I have neither the time, the discipline nor the skills to complete. Immersion in one gospel at a time (pun intended) will enable us to discern the intent and voice of that author and it’s message for us. I chose Mark to begin with for a few reasons. It’s most likely the first gosepl that was written. It has more of Jesus’ deeds and less of his teachings than Luke and Matthew do, so it might make sense to look at Jesus’ teachings later after looking at a framework of his life in Mark first. And, I don’t want the discussion to go offtrack by being distracted by the genealogies in those gospels (I have different views on the historicity of the genealogies to many in Berean Spirit) or discussion of the virgin birth. Plus the profundity of the Sermon on the Mount scares me – I need to work up to discussing that. And Mark is the least “literary” of the gospels so I have spent less time in Mark than the other gospels so far. This will address that lack.

I am going to post my comments after reading, prayer and reflection. I am not intending to make this an indepth study so will try not to get distracted (as I am wont to do) by commentaries or tangents. I’m using the ESV to paste here (thanks Biblegateway) but am reading the NIV, TNIV, ESV and NLT each day before commenting. And I will make each post short so it’s more manageable.

Mark 1 (English Standard Version)
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,(A) the Son of God.[a]

The gospel is ongoing beyond Mark’s account (into Acts and beyond). The gospel not limited to a written account or to this account. My Bible tells me that the Son of God was added later. Is that significant? Probably not… it doesn’t contradict anything.

2(B) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,[b]

(C) “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3(D) the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
(E) ‘Prepare[c] the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'”

Mark indicates that Jesus is the fulfilment of Israel’s prophecies in quoting here from Isaiah and Malachi. A reminder that Jesus cannot be understood in isolation but in the context of the whole of God’s story.

4(F) John appeared, baptizing in(G) the wilderness and proclaiming(H) a baptism of(I) repentance(J) for the forgiveness of sins. 5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan,(K) confessing their sins.

We should not be limited to “this” baptism. We need to embrace baptism in all it’s richness and spiritual complexity. If we limit baptism to the “remission of sins” we miss much of what Jesus is all about.

Note that “all” is used here in a hyperbolic sense, not literally. It is obvious (from the rest of the gospel story) that not everyone in Jerusalem and Judea were baptized by John.

6Now John was(L) clothed with camel’s hair and(M) wore a leather belt around his waist and ate(N) locusts and wild honey.

Does this description have echoes of the 40 years the Jews spent in the wilderness? I know it links John to Elijah and other prophets.

7And he preached, saying,(O) “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

John’s foreshadows the servant leadership of Jesus.

The poetic language of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi and John contrasts with the prosaic language of Mark.

8(P) I have baptized you with water, but(Q) he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The importance of Holy Spirit baptism. Water baptism is insufficient unless we are immersed in the Holy Spirit too. We need to base our theology of baptism on the gospels and the whole canon of Scripture, not just Acts 2:38.

I was wondering how this line would be translated with immersion instead? (Berean Spirit group has been discussing how the Greek word baptidzo should best be translated into English – by the transliteration baptism or immersion.

8 I have immersed you in water, but he will immerse you in the Holy Spirit.”

It loses something, I think.  Baptism is much more than immersion.

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Verse 3 makes me want to sing.  Handel’s Messiah is one of my favourite pieces of music.

I invite your comments.  And your prayers for my perseverance with immersion in Jesus.