Tuesday, June 23, 2015
I love Mark 16 because of the questions and uncertainties it poses. This is not a clean ending to the gospel story. I feel I can look at this chapter in two ways: it's either a Choose Your Own Adventure where I pick which ending I like, or it's The Return of the King where it keeps ending over and over until I'm begging for the credits to roll because I've been sitting here for three and a half hours and I really have to use the bathroom.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Immediately in the morning the chief priests hold a meeting with the larger council before taking Jesus to Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews, to which Jesus replies, "You say so." Very mature, Jesus. Pilate listens to the priests' accusations but Jesus says nothing more in his defense.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
After all that apocalyptic rhetoric (or literal predictions of the future!), Mark continues his story two days before Passover. The chief priests and religious leaders want to kill Jesus, but they need to be sneaky about it. Jerusalem is packed during Passover and arresting such a popular figure may incite a riot among the rabble.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
When Jesus and his crew leave the Temple, one of the disciples marvels at the huge buildings. I imagine this might be because they were all backwoods yokels visiting the big city. Jesus responds rather ominously, though, and says that these buildings will be destroyed so thoroughly that not one stone will be left atop another. Um, Jesus, people can get killed for that kind of talk.
Think about visiting Washington today and, on a tour of the White House, speaking within earshot of the Secret Service that the day is coming when not one brick of the White House will stand atop another. You will probably be tackled pretty fast. Words are dangerous, Jesus. Words are more dangerous than miracles.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Then Jesus tells a parable about a very stupid man. The man plants a vineyard and constructs all the buildings around that are necessary. Then he leases it to tenants and moves away, as rich men tend to do. When the time comes, he sends a slave back to the vineyard to to collect his rent and portion of the profits. But the tenants say, "screw this!" and beat the slave and send him back empty handed. The man sends another slave, and the same thing happens. For some reason, the man thinks the third time is a charm, but the tenants kill that slave.
Curiously, this pattern still continues, until the only messenger the man has left alive his is own son. The man does the unthinkably stupid and sends his son, thinking that this time the tenants will be respectful. No sir, mister stupid man. The tenants kill the son, because of course they would. So what will the man do? Jesus says he will come to the vineyard himself, presumably with an army or something, and destroy all the tenants and give the vineyard to someone else.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Jesus continues on his mission to Jerusalem. Stopping at Bethphage and Bethany, he sends two of the disciples ahead of him into a village to steal a colt. If anyone questions them, they are to explain that the Lord needs it, but they will bring it back. Sounds legit, Jesus!
So the disciples do just that, and they are asked just that, and they reply just that, and the villagers are completely fine with it. That is one weird village. I don't know about you, but I would lock my car if I was stopping there for a burger and a Fresca.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Jesus decrees that some people standing in his presence right then would not die before they saw the coming of the kingdom of God. Now, if we take that to mean the second coming and the institution of God's holy rule, we have two ways of looking at this: Either Jesus was wrong, or there were vampires in the crowd that day. Two thousand years later, we are still waiting on God's literal kingdom to come. So, maybe those vampires are still walking around somewhere?
Monday, June 15, 2015
Once again Jesus and crew find themselves before a large crowd with nothing to eat. Once again Jesus tells his disciples to feed them. Once again the disciples wonder how they are supposed to do that. Um, guys? It worked out just fine not too long ago. Maybe you should try that again. That is pretty much what Jesus tells them. This time they have have seven loaves of bread and a couple small fish, and after the blessing and the eating they wind up with seven baskets full of leftovers.
I have a theory: Jesus is a fan of leftovers. Perhaps leftover fish sandwiches, even.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Okay, so it looks like some Pharisees and scribes have come up all the way from Jerusalem just to listen to Jesus talk. However, they seem more distracted by his disciples' filthy, filthy hands. They notice that Jesus' entourage eats with defiled hands. That is, they eat without washing their hands. They have poo-poo hands! Then Mark makes a quick aside explaining Jewish cleanliness rituals and traditions, indicating that Mark may be targeting this gospel, at least in part, to a non-Jewish audience.
Saturday, June 13, 2015
After raising the girl from the dead and telling no one to say anything (um, people will probably notice that she's not dead anymore) Jesus and his crew head to his hometown, which I guess would be Nazareth. As is Jesus' wont, he teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath. But this unnerves several of the locals who knew him as a boy. They question who is this man to be teaching such things? He's the carpenter, the son of Mary. Also, I think this is the first time Mark name checks Jesus' mother. She now has a name, and it is Mary. And Jesus has a profession, and it is a carpenter.
Maybe he can fix the hole in The Rock's roof!
Friday, June 12, 2015
Jesus versus The Incredible Hulk!
No, no, hear me out. After Jesus tames the sea, they reach the shore in the country of the Gerasenes, which, according to the commentary in my NRSV was a largely non-Jewish population. This actually makes sense for what follows. Also, take that, Paul! Jesus was reaching out to the gentiles before you got around to it! Although, Jesus wasn't quite as successful.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Once again Jesus is speaking along the sea and has his escape boat at the ready. The crowd becomes so large that Jesus retreats to the escape boat but, instead of fleeing, he continues to teach from the boat. If Jesus was an action figure his accessory vehicle would be an escape boat. Jesus figure not included.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Jesus enters a synagogue again and causes a ruckus. A man with a withered hand asks Jesus to heal him. The Pharisees and the scribes are watching intently, for once again it is a grievous violation to perform miracles on the sabbath. So, of course Jesus heals the man and the religious leaders are upset. Note that they don't seem too concerned by the fact that Jesus is healing people and performing miracles, but they are super miffed that he does these things on the sabbath.
You got some strange priorities, people.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
After a few days, Jesus goes back home to Capernaum. And by "home" I assume Mark means back to Simon's home, because that's the only home in Capernaum he's mentioned. Plus, you know, Simon's house has his mother-in-law that makes all those amazing sandwiches. So, of course Jesus would go back there.
Monday, June 8, 2015
The Bible is boring. It's dry, humorless, and rather disjointed.
Plus, if it's the perfect, inerrant, literal word of God, then I can't question it. I can't pick it apart and explore it. I can't do anything with that.
Thank God I learned how to doubt (Isn't that a magnificent statement?).
So, in this little project, I set out to read the Gospel of Mark. I didn't approach it as a collection of pithy Bible verses I can pull out to comfort me in times of trouble. I approached it as narrative whole written by a singular (more or less) author. Instead of mindlessly agreeing with everything I read, I brought to the text my questions and my struggles. And hopefully my charming wit.
Now, this isn't any sort of scholarly commentary. This is the haphazard, unorganized theological ramblings of a mad man. And I could very well be wrong about everything. But that's perfectly okay. It was a fun, challenging experience all the same.
So I invite you to join my journey, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the struggle as Mitch Reads.... Mark 1.
Also, enjoy the sandwiches. You'll see.