The Message Behind the Gospel of Mark
The Message Behind the Gospel of Mark
The Gospels are complex readings which primarily talk about the life of Jesus Christ up to his death. These make up most of the Bible’s New Testament. They usually share the miracles and teachings that Jesus taught to his followers, especially to his disciples whom He believed would carry God’s message across the world. One of these Gospels is written by the evangelist, Mark. In chapters nine and ten of his Gospel, he shares the second and third prophecies that Jesus Christ made about his upcoming death.
Although he did not worry about it much, his disciples were pondering upon it constantly, even if he told them that there was nothing to fret about. Since they assumed that it would be the last few days of Jesus Christ, they gave more focus on his teachings. However, there was much dispute as to who was Jesus Christ’s favorite(s) among the disciples. Angered by their fighting, Christ told them not to assume that he had favorites among the group. Instead, they should concentrate more on the task assigned to them by God, with him as the mediator.
In a nutshell, these chapters and their verses of the Gospel of Mark — 9:30-37, 9:38-10:31, and 10:32-45 — revolve around the themes of love, equality, and brotherhood. Using Hilda Bright’s insights regarding these verses as the primary text, the comments presented by the teacher in the study guide will be compared to Bright’s comments, and in the process, the author of this essay will develop a fresh analysis of these verses. Mark 9:30-37: Greatness and His Death Jesus and his disciples traveled to Galilee with the desire to speak to them privately about his death.
However, he did not tell this to them directly and used the third person perspective instead: “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise” (Mark 9:32 New International Version). These words confused the disciples, although they were worried that it might be about Jesus’ death. However, they refused to believe such an event, probably because they were afraid. Jesus told them not to worry about it and move on. When they reached Capernaum, Jesus saw the disciples arguing about something.
Although it has not been mentioned that he knew what they were arguing about, it can be assumed that he knew because he gathered them all and told them: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). This was his insight about greatness, since his disciples were arguing about who among them is the greatest disciple, which is not the whole point of discipleship as taught by Jesus Christ. Hilda Bright (2006) interprets 9:30-32 as Jesus Christ’s desire to tell his prophecy about his death to his disciples away from the public eye.
It was told in a story-like manner, as though he was not referring to himself. This, however, did not go unnoticed to his disciples, as they have already assumed that Jesus is talking about his death through his “story. ” Verses 30-31 describe the period of Jesus’ public teachings in Galilee to be over. His desire to avoid the crowd proves that he wanted some privacy with his disciples. Bright (2006) stresses the words “hand over” as if someone among his circle would betray Jesus Christ in order to surrender him to the religious and state authorities who were furious of his presence and his cult — as they would call it.
However, according to Bright, these words could also mean that God has planned his arrest and death all along, and out of love for his Father, he accepted his fate since God already explained that it was the only way to save the people. For verse 32, Bright believes that the disciples were starting to worry, since the passage says that they were afraid. However, afraid here could also pertain to their reluctance to ask him or doubt it again, since they received a stinging reply in the past, when Jesus told them that he would suffer.
The verses about greatness and the disciples’ argument of who among them is the greatest, according to Bright (2006), imply that the disciples saw discipleship as similar to politics, in which Jesus would provide them specific positions to occupy. However, they refused to tell this to Jesus due to the immense shame they felt. Bright (2006) describes the usage of the child as a parable for the disciples to understand about genuine greatness. Jesus emphasized that if anyone of them wish to be great, they must serve anyone, even if that person is just a child (Bright, 2006).
Compared to Bright’s analysis, the teacher’s point of view in the study guide is more compact and direct, and it accepts multiple possible meanings for the text, making it more flexible. It briefly describes how Jesus desired to teach his disciples in private, that he has to suffer to save humanity. This confused them greatly, leading to a heated argument among themselves as to who is the greatest disciple. Seeing this as a stemming problem, Jesus told them the importance of being humble in their discipleship which entails giving service to the people. The teacher provides a simple and direct interpretation of the passages.
It seems that the teacher sees no need to interpret the other details, and concentrates on the most important ones which entail the teachings of Jesus Christ. It also does not deem that the fear of the disciples was important and goes straight to the heated argument, which was drawn up by Jesus’ second revelation of his death (Teacher, year). Given the two interpretations, it would be easier to give out my insights about the verses. For 9:30-32, these verses primarily describe the need to discuss private matters with his disciples regarding his death and suffering.
If Jesus would let the public know about this, then God’s plan will be ruined, or worse, it would provide an opening for the nonbelievers to brand him as a false prophet, ruining his reputation to the public, which may lead to a decrease in followers. The fact that the disciples were afraid of confronting him again may be because they do not wish to see him angered again. However, it is more likely possible that they were afraid of that truth — that he has to die — which would leave them to carry out the task themselves, afraid of taking responsibility.
For 9:33-37, Jesus taught them about achieving genuine greatness after seeing them argue among themselves. Even though they did not tell him the reason, he already knew what they were arguing about. He canceled out their false belief about Jesus’ mission on earth by teaching them about giving service to everyone — no matter if he or she was inferior to them — as the first step in achieving the greatest they sought, or probably the greater greatness that they had yet to see. Mark 9:38-10:31: More Vital Teachings of Jesus
These verses discuss the importance of unity and acceptance, the hindrance that possessing immense wealth could inflict upon a person, the rewards that heaven will provide, and the need to defy temptation. These teachings were vital in the establishment of the religion in the future and for the mission to deliver everyone from evil. These taught the disciples the importance of accepting those outside of their group while doing the same purpose of sending away evil. He saw these as allies to his mission to save the people from evil, which the disciples understood.
He also stressed the importance of unity between husband and wife, disposing of the law that allows divorce between the couple, seeing it as an act of adultery according to God’s commandment. He also stressed that there is no need for wealth to enter paradise. Again, this would reinforce his statement “those who are last, shall become first. ” Finally, he saw temptation as a vile act that ruins the deliverance of the people from evil. It corrupts individuals, enslaving them into turning against God.
In Bright’s (2006) interpretation of the verses, these were basically teachings that the disciples should uphold and spread to other people, including those outside of their circle. The first passage pertains to the disciples’ reluctance to accept those who are using Jesus’ name to exhume evil as part of their circle, and how Jesus stressed the importance of glorifying those who are successful in doing a good deed. The next passage highlights the importance of avoiding temptation as well as the consequences it would bring to those who give in.
According to Bright, Jesus was using picture language to describe what the disciples must do against temptation. Sacrifice seems to be the key, according to Bright (2006). The salt is also described by Bright (2006) as the pact between God and man upon which the disciples should be the salt in order to spread the good around the world, since salt improves the taste of food. The third passage entails the importance of marriage. According to Bright (2006), Jesus did not entirely disagree with the point of divorce.
It was simply seen as a way to avert a bad situation. However, Jesus believes that God’s original purpose should stand out in every marriage, and God could forgive them for their failures, making divorce unnecessary. The fourth passage stresses the importance of little children to their mission. In Bright’s (2006) interpretation, Jesus enlightened them with the fact that children should receive the grace of God in order to enter his kingdom. This may be the reason behind baptisms, wherein Christians would baptize children.
However, according to Bright (2006), many believe it to be more than just baptism because children symbolize the joy that one can receive in heaven. The last few passages discuss the unimportance of wealth in heaven. According to Bright’s (2006) interpretation, a person who shares his blessings would help others, and in turn help him enter the kingdom of God. Being able to detach from wealth is a tough feat, but that person will be rewarded. Wealth prevents the person from entering the kingdom of God (Bright, 2006).
The teacher’s interpretation in the study guide remains to be more compact and direct to the most important details within the passages. The teacher sees these passages as the continuation from his second passion since they also stress a lot about material wealth, in relation to the argument of the disciples about greatness. As described by the teacher, these passages contain teachings concerning how Christians should act to their fellowmen. The first passage teaches people how to be charitable to others, especially for their act of goodness.
The next passage requires Christians not to force others into sin. It is not part of the purpose of being a Christian for the community since delivering these people from evil is the mission, no matter who they are. The next passages describe the importance of avoiding divorce. Divorce tends to separate people, and this goes against God’s belief in unity among people. It also shares that Christians should also provide the needs of children in order for them to be allowed to enter heaven. The last few passages stress that Christians should be generous to their unfortunate fellowmen, no matter who they are.
In a nutshell, this series of passages suggests that Christians should act as a single family. In order to become a single family, they must overcome all the necessary feats that families do within their own households. Stressing that persecutions also come with such sacrifices, Christians should act as a single family in order to endure this problem and gain the reward of “eternal life” (Teacher year, p. 69-71). Given the two interpretations, I believe that these passages remind people how Christians should act or how to become a Christian.
Since Christians believe in the concept of community, they are required to follow these teachings described within these passages in order for them to form an impregnable bond as one huge family. Living a life of sacrifice alone is quite hard to endure. One needs support from his or her fellowmen in order for them to get through the day. The passages also stress the importance of equality between various people, especially those that uphold the same values in order to build a better community. Children should not be disregarded in the picture.
They will always remain as the future of this community, and teaching them God’s message and proper values would prevent them from sinking into sin at a very early age. Mark 10:32-45: The Third Passion and the Importance of Service Quite similar to the first series, the third series of passages reiterates the discipleship’s need to give service to the people, especially to those who need it, and the death of Jesus in a more specific detail, which bugged the disciples and his followers. It also implies that God has the final say.
In Bright’s (2006) interpretation, Jesus’ disciples and followers continued to follow him since they feared that something may happen to him. The third passion was also described in a very detailed manner, which caused worries from his disciples. Bright claims that there were two groups of people that followed Jesus to Jerusalem — his disciples and followers. Bright describes the request of James and John to entail political reasons, since they believed that Jesus would really become king and establish a political kingdom on earth.
Bright (2006) interprets the “cup” as Jesus’ experience of pain and death in order to achieve God’s purpose for him, and the word “baptism” was basically the entire process of experiencing pain and death for something better. Furthermore, he told them that God has the final decision, and nothing would ever change that. In the final passage, Jesus reiterates that in order to achieve greatness, one must serve (Bright, 2006). In the teacher’s interpretation, the disciples continue to be oblivious to the upcoming death of Jesus, which he described in greater detail within the third passion.
The teacher believes that this challenges the readers to interpret the details of the passion, since the disciples remained clueless to it. Furthermore, the teacher takes the readers back to the first series of passages in which the importance of being a humble servant in achieving greatness, after James and John failed to understand this and caused jealousy among the other disciples (Teacher, year). Taking these two interpretations into account, I believe that these sets of passages aim to reassert the fact that his death was inevitable, no matter how disbelieving it was.
It assures the readers, as well as his disciples, that his suffering and death had a great purpose. This we know by the fact that his death would ultimately deliver people from sin, ridding the sins of men before his purposeful death. These passages also reassert the fact that remaining as a humble servant as Christians would ultimately bring one to greatness, in which case I believe would be the rewards that will be reaped in God’s kingdom. It also stresses the point that only God has the final word, judgment, or whatever word would fit that description.
God has a purpose for each of us, and it has already been set. Conclusion: The Good News These passages from the Gospel of Mark primarily discuss the Christian way that was applied by Jesus’ disciples and his followers and spread this across the world. It was taught at the time wherein Jesus Christ’s death was approaching, with the disciples remaining oblivious to this fact, even though Jesus described his death in the Third Passion with much detail.
However, this did not stop Jesus from teaching them the Christian way of life: filled with humble service, brotherhood, and equality, as well as its rewards in heaven. Basically, in order to be rewarded with “eternal life,” one should follow the Christian way, in which they should give unselfish service to their fellowmen who are in need of guidance and help. Wealth and temptation act as a hindrance to God’s plan and to a person’s path towards righteousness.
It also hinders them into receiving the elusive ticket to heaven. References Bright, H. (2006, April). Mark’s Good News. EasyEnglish Bible. Retrieved June 18, 2009, from <http://www. easyenglish. info/bible-commentary/mark-lbw. htm>. Teacher. (Year of Publication). Discovering Mark’s Message: A Study Guide to Mark’s Gospel. Location: Publisher. Zondervan. (2008). Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 9 October 2016
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