Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mitch Reads... Mark 3

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.

But Jesus' popularity among the common people escalated dramatically.  People from all around, even beyond Judea, were coming to see him.  The crowds became so big that Jesus feared they would crush him.  So he told his entourage to ready an escape boat so that they may escape to the sea.  That's right, Jesus had an escape boat.

Unclean spirits he encountered continued to identify him as the Son of God.  But Jesus told them to be quite about it.  Seriously, you guys, come on now, keep it on the down low.  Seriously.

Then, in a Mosaic moment, Jesus ascended a mountain and appointed twelve disciples, imbuing them with the power to cast out demons.  This is where he started calling Simon "Peter," and from now on I will only refer to him as The Rock.  Because I can.  The fact that Dwayne Johnson hasn't starred in a movie about Peter is an absolute travesty.  Jesus also calls James and John, the sons of Zebedee, the Boanerges.  This is a sweet name that we should really work back into common contemporary Christian parlance.  I just think it sounds cool.  Anyway, Boanerges is supposed to mean Sons of Thunder, but I'm going to tweak that and call them the Thunder Twins.

Thunder Twin powers, activate!

Also, the last disciple mentioned is Judas, who would betray Jesus.  Mark is not so good at avoiding spoilers.  Thanks a lot, Mark.

Jesus returned home, which I assume is The Rock's roofless house in Capernaum.  Once again, Mark isn't too generous with the details, but The Rock's home seems to be Jesus' base of operations.  The crowds followed him home and enlarged to the chaotic point where Jesus couldn't even eat.  Upon hearing this, Jesus' family came to talk some sense into him.  I think this is the first time Mark mentions Jesus has a family.  Before this we just knew him as some dude that came down from Nazareth to be baptized.  But Jesus has a family.  Cool deal, Jesus.

His critics exclaim that all of Jesus' miraculous works are the product of the devil.  Jesus will have none of this crazy talk.  What good is it for Satan to fight Satan?  A house divided cannot stand.  Four score and seven years ago...wait, not quite.  Close enough.  Then Jesus goes on an interesting rant stating that any sin is forgivable, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for such blasphemy is eternally unforgivable.

What.  The.  Crap.  Does.  That.  Mean?

So God is willing to forgive anything, except blaspheming the Holy Spirit?  Why?  The other two Persons of the Trinity can take it, but the Spirit can't?  Or does this mean we shouldn't talk smack about Pentecostals?  It just seems kind of odd to pick out this one particular sin that, compared to, I don't know, murder or genocide or Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, doesn't sound so bad.  It feels like Jesus is being kind of petty with this one.

That's right, I just suggested Jesus might be petty with this whole unforgivable sin business.  Welcome to Wednesday Theology.

But maybe I'm coming at this wrong.  Maybe I'm approaching this too literally.  I mean, Jesus has a tendency to speak in parables and metaphoric language.  Really, that's what his teachings are famous for!  So what if Jesus didn't mean claiming the work of the Holy Spirit is evil was actually unforgivable?  What if he was using hyperbole?  What if he employed grand, exaggerated language to hammer home the point that this work was not evil and it is an extreme mistake to claim otherwise?

I could be wrong.

Anyway, Jesus' mother and brothers come to see him.  Hi, Jesus' mom!  Mark doesn't give you a cool backstory or meetings with angels or anything.  Nope, you just show up one day trying to see your adult son.  But that does not go so well.  The crowd alerts Jesus that his family has arrived, but Jesus retorts that whoever does the will of God is his brother and sister and mother.  Way to be a grateful son, Jesus.  It's not like she was in labor with you for how many hours in a stable (in other gospels).

Mark doesn't say whether his family was actually able to see Jesus or not.

Thus ends the Third Chapter of Mark.

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