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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Gospel of Mark - Introduction - Chapters 1-4 Notes

 Introduction -

The Gospel of Mark is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Who is Mark? He's not one of the 12 Apostles. He has a Latin name. John Mark is identified in the Acts of the Apostles. They did not have last names at this time but there were a lot of John's so this helped distinguish him from other John's. 

Mark was not born in Judaea and to do any business dealings he'd have to have two names: One Jewish and one Roman, like an alias or a legal name, John/Mark. 

Mark is from a Christian family, his cousin is St. Barnabas and he has several family connections. In the 40s AD, he accompanied Barnabas and then did so with St. Peter in Rome. He is originally from Cyrene, (modern-day - Libya) which is part of five cities and a port town. 

How is St. Mark a witness? He records St. Peter's account and sermons and pieces them together. Mark is educated and of a merchant family and likely was the first apostle to produce a gospel (64-69AD). The final draft of what is now Mark's gospel was written and edited likely after St. Peter's death. This is just an educated guess at best however, it aligns with what we know of the creation of the gospel through historical texts and it seems pretty clear that St. Mark wrote this after St. Peter's death (64AD).

After St. Peter's death, Mark became the Bishop of Antioch and was martyred in 68 AD. His Gospel is written eyewitness testimony from St. Peter. 

Fun fact: In the iconography of the Church, St. Mark is often portrayed as a Lion and is Italy's patron saint. 

God has given four different gospel accounts. This is proof that the gospels are speaking the truth because it is all four different accounts with additional things and things they didn't say or omitted. Mark wrote this Gospel in Greek through human beings from their memories in the 1st CE and their language. He doesn't write it very well in Greek like St. Paul usually does.

St. Mark as one will see focuses largely on the nature of humanity in his Gospel. 

[Chapter 1]

1:1-8 - "The gospel" victory of Jesus. Son of God. Messiah. Caesar is a son of a god in Rome so calling Jesus by this title is punishable by Roman law. It is a political and theological statement being made here that we in the modern day often overlook. 

Here in vv.1-8 we see Mark use Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 and smushes them together. 

"The voice of one crying/calling out". 

The Messiah is to bring the Israelites out of the Babylonian Exile. John the Forerunner (Baptist) calls them to come out of the city to the wild to pave the way for the Messiah. 

They'd been in Jerusalem and rededicated it, etc. but they still did not see or experience or feel the presence of the Lord being inside the Temple like God had before, so the majority of Jews felt that the Exile was still taking place and that the End of Exile had not been fulfilled yet. They felt they were still enslaved and still being punished by God in Exile awaiting the promise of Restoration. 

John shows there is a real end to the Exile coming and that it is happening now/about to with the Messiah to show up soon. 

vv. 4-5 John the Forerunner begins the start of this New Way by baptizing and purifying these New People. This vv. 4-5 is hyperbole for it's not all people but it is a significantly large amount of people. 

vv. 6-8 - John is clothed in camel hair he has crafted on his own. He lives off the land eating bugs and honey. Elijah dressed similarly in the OT. John the Forerunner is the New Elijah, one with the same Spirit of God as Elijah the Prophet. He has been tasked as the Forerunner to prepare the Way for the Messiah. 

"I baptize you with water and He will baptize you with Holy Spirit". Almost says it cryptically. 

1:9-13 - John baptized Jesus from Nazareth in the Jordan River. Jesus does not come for repentance for He has nothing to repent of, being without sin. Jesus sees the Spirit descend, like a dove/bird (not literally a dove). Everyone then hears a voice from heaven: "You are My Son, with Who I am well pleased". 

The Messiah is anointed. His Coronation begins here. This is clear from the enthronement language being used here that this is the case. The beginning of the King. The Prophet John anoints the King Jesus like Prophet Samuel does King David. Like David, Jesus was already King but not sitting on the throne yet. David had to reign amidst his enemies before this. Jesus will do the same til the 2nd Coming. The rest of the Gospel is that story. 

1:12-13 - Tempted by Satan like King David when he could have killed but instead fled King Saul. David had to deal with Saul, the enemy. Jesus like David is successful versus Satan in the desert. 

1:14-15 - John is in prison and Jesus begins preaching against the world of Satan. Zeus/Jupiter is seen by the Jews as Satan and Ceasar is an agent of Satan. Jesus is already seen proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is already victorious and at hand, so repent and believe in this victory. 

1:16-20 - The Apostles join Jesus (Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, and John of Zebedee) in Galilee. Fishermen on the seacoast in the Sea of Galilee/Tiberius, they join Him and walk away from their livelihood as peasants to follow Him. They actually own their own boat so this is a big deal to do this. 

1:21-34 - They go to Capernaum. Nazareth has no significance whatsoever archaeological-wise. It was a super-poor area and Capernaum at this time barely had any buildings. Jesus goes to the Synagogue and teaches there. One man comes in with a demon - a lesser spirit that possesses him. People would get possessed and many actually tried intentionally to become possessed by demons all the time in the Greco-Roman world. They had a "genius". 

We know these demons are the enemy. Culturally, this man in Galilee may have even been seen as great since Jews and Gentiles were forced to intermingle a lot, definitely would have been seen that way by a few Gentiles as being "touched by 'the gods'". 

This demon recognizes the Messiah and so Jesus exorcised the man by command. These spirits are just a little less than a god to pagans so who commands them out but someone who may be God Incarnate? :) 

Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law who was sick and then she serves them. When the sun sets, Jesus heals many people ridding them of a lot of demons, and doesn't let the demons say who He is. 

Note: The demons do not repent and remain hostile but the people repent and believe and see transformation. 

1:35-39 - Galilee is a more Gentile part of the nation than Jew by far. Christ is here delivering people from demons and healing people there. 

1:40-45 - This leper (no known cure at the time) tells Jesus He can heal him if He wills it. This speaks of who the leper thinks He is, the Messiah. Sent by God or God Himself. More powerful than all. Jesus does heal the unclean man and touches him.

When Jesus cleanses the leper, the leper now has to go to the priesthood to be let back into society. However, instead of doing that, the guy tells everyone, enough so that He can't go to the cities or else He will face resistance, which it isn't yet time for Jesus to face. Jesus is growing popular and massive groups now are coming to see Christ. 

[Chapter 2] 

2:1-12 - Jesus enters Capernaum and is in St. Peter's mother-in-law's house and has large crowds. A group of men bring a paralytic to Jesus and take part of the roof off just to get their friend to Jesus to be healed. They care for this paralytic friend and are confident of who Jesus was/is and that He can do this. 

Some scribes see this and see Jesus tell the man he is healed. They ask how He can forgive sins when only God alone can do so.

These motives of the scribes aren't innocent/pure or just a theological issue being raised. Jesus knew what they were thinking and what was in their hearts and responded to them declaring He was the Son of Man and telling the paralytic to get up and walk and he does. 

2:13-17 - Jesus leaves the city, they follow, and He teaches them. As He passes, He meets Levi/St. Matthew, the tax collector tells him to follow Him. This would be seen as an unclean man following Jesus here. The Pharisees and scribes freak out and Jesus responds that "the healthy don't need doctors" and that He is calling sinners to repentance to be made righteous. 

Levi leaves his former life to join Jesus. Jesus is willing to talk to all the tax collectors and sinners to bring them to righteousness and repentance when the Pharisees aren't. 

Jesus is arguing for a whole interpretation of the Torah that is different from the Pharisees. The purpose of the Torah is to identify the disease of sin so that they can be cured while the Pharisees' purpose and interpretation of it is to identify and throw away or purge Judaea of the wicked. 

2:18-22 - The Pharisees, Jesus shows, would have to accept these people and that they can't do so because of their pride and arrogance. 

John the Forerunner's disciples and the Pharisees are fasting and see Jesus' disciples not fasting so they challenge Jesus on this matter. 

Jesus responds with metaphors about a Bridegroom and wineskins saying you don't fast before the wedding. You celebrate. A time shall come when they will not them and will fast. 

Next, is a metaphor of a garment and sewing. Then is one of the old and new wineskins. Christ is doing new things and they want it to be the old way and more importantly THEIR WAY, with THEIR structures they've built up. Christ is calling them to change their mindset and as they are, currently, they don't get it and He won't play by their rules. He is the New. They are the Old. Just like the sinners need to be made new, so do the Pharisees. 

2:23-27 - The Pharisees are watching Jesus now. On the Sabbath, the disciples take some grain. They appeal to the crowd so Jesus responds and uses King David's run from Saul as an example, when he and them ate the priest's food. He is, by analogy, the King, and the disciples, His men, and the Pharisees are the persecutors sent by Saul/Satanic influences. 

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. God made a day of rest for mankind out of love, not as a rule to legally enforce like a lawyer. The commands of God (Law/Torah) are for the good of humanity to help them and better them, out of love. 

A Sabbath-breaker is sick and unhealthy to Christ because they don't get rest. 

[Chapter 3]

3:1-6 - Synagogue on Sabbath, there's a man there with a withered hand. Before Jesus heals him, He asks if He is to do good or evil on Sabbath. Is it lawful? If I ignore him is it not evil? Is it bad to do good? None can answer and Jesus gets angry at the Pharisees here because they are hypocrites. The Pharisees are also mad that they can't answer Him. They should not be mad that Jesus is doing these good things. They are because they have hard hearts and they don't care about these people at all. They suck and have no love and only care about their positions of power. We should strive ourselves to not be like these unfortunate men. If we are given positions of power we must use it for good and to help others. 

Jesus heals the man and then the Pharisees go to the Herodians and plot to destroy Jesus. 

3:7-12 - Many people come to see Jesus, some 600+ miles by foot's worth. From Tyre and Sidon to Galilee. Jesus even now has a boat ready to flee from this mob of people. He has cleansed many of demons. The demons merely see Him and flee yelling that He is "the Son of God". 

3:13-19 - The 12 are mentioned. Judas the Betrayer is mentioned. They are all appointed and participate in what Jesus has been doing. Preach, heal, and cast out demons. Judas did all this too with them. At this time, Judas may not have wanted to betray Him. Just because we claim we follow Christ does not mean we do all the time. 

3:20-30 - So many people are coming to them all that they can't catch a break. Jesus' own people/family end up coming to see Him for an intervention of sorts. The Pharisees have begun claiming that Jesus is possessed by a demon Beelzebub, who is casting out smaller demons. 

Beelzebub means "High Lord of Flies/Dung". They're calling him literally Lord of Shit.

Jesus calls them out for this and asks: How can and why would Satan cast out Satan? If Satan did that, Satan would be screwing himself over and messing up his plans for humanity. 

Jesus then calls the Pharisees to him and points out that they have come thanks to Satan and that Jesus is battling Satan and they are on Satan's side. 

Jesus tells them they can be forgiven but they will not because they are calling the Holy Spirit's work, Satan. Calling God your adversary; enemy. If you continue on this path, God will condemn you for this and He tells them this so they might repent, out of love. 

3:31-35 - His brothers and Mary, his mother come to talk to Him. His step-brothers. His point here he makes is the disciples are His family and those who follow God, including His step-brothers and mother, are family. Genealogy doesn't make one family. All who follow God are family.

[Chapter 4] 

4:1-9 - Jesus again teaches the people. This time He is on a boat preaching so that He can make a getaway from the mob of followers if need be. St. Mark is more into showing that Jesus is the New King David. Jesus tells them lessons through parables and this one in particular is the Parable of the Sower. 

4:10-12 - The Disciples ask what it means and why He is doing these parables so he cryptically quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 here. Isaiah 55 is also referenced here where Jesus' quote is from part of the Servant Songs. 

The Servant will suffer so He can bear their sins. The prophecy says people will have their hearts darkened so they'll kill the Suffering Servant and He can bear their sins as He planned to do so through the Cross death, and Resurrection. 

4:13-20 - If you understand this parable it will help you understand all others (Isaiah 55.10-13). Paraphrased: 75% of people who hear what I say won't get it. The people will reject the Word of God that Jesus preaches and it won't take root in them because Satan has already spread his roots into them and ruined the message. God is already the Pharisees' enemy.

Then some people find hardship and persecution come to them and they run. 

Then some hear but then get concerned with the world and lose their focus (v. 20 Good soil produces good results). 

Lastly, v. 20, the good soil produces good fruit and those who hear and do are these. 

4:21-25 - After the Resurrection, the Apostles will get the parables (due to the Holy Spirit). Devout people recognize Jesus and are spiritually in tune. 

A parable of a lamp under a basket is used. You don't waste your lamp. You use it to light the room. Jesus is talking about our faith and the gospel. He says to pay attention and keep measuring correctly. Don't be a dishonest merchant in other words. Be fair. Give generously and God will be to you. He is telling the disciples that they will get more understanding if they will do what they do already understand. 

Jesus also takes a shot at the scribes here some because they memorize the Scriptures and know them but don't know them actually because they don't live them out and they KNOW they do not do so. 

4:26-29 - He continues the parables with scattered seeds, which illustrates the point that He just made earlier. Scatter seed, tend it, see when it is ripe and harvest it. Doesn't have or know it all but does what he does have and knows in practice. Go and do likewise. 

4:30-32 - Mustard seed becomes a big tree. Small bits of good and God can make big things. 

4:33-34 - When alone, Jesus explained the parables He spoke to them and made more points with these people. 

4:35-41 - Jesus and they go on a boat across the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Others are following them. As this takes place, a storm begins and Jesus is fast asleep. It gets bad so the disciples wake Jesus and He calms the storm. He is calm while they are freaking out. He tells the storm to cease. The disciples mutter to themselves asking "Who is this guy"? 

The disciples at that moment, did not believe or trust Him. They think they are all going to die here. Earlier Jesus had been called Beelzebub. Baal is a storm god. Here Jesus shows He is Lord of Lords, not Baal. Not Asherah. Not Zeus. Yahweh Incarnate, Jesus. Yahweh is in control. He is Jesus. 

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