Thursday, June 11, 2015
Mitch Reads... Mark 4
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.
From the boat he tells the parable of the sower and the seeds. The sower casts seeds on a variety of soils with rather poor qualities. The seeds either don't grow or don't produce substantial plants. But eventually the sower comes across some good soil and has the good sense to cast some seeds there. And guess what? The seeds yield an abundance of grain!
Later he tells the disciples in private the meaning of the parables, because only certain people should know just what on earth he is talking about. Or something. But what Jesus means is that, while many people will hear the Good News of the kingdom of God, various circumstances in life will prevent them from doing anything with it. But when people hear it and are willing to put the teachings into practice, great things will happen.
Then he tells another parable about hiding a lamp under a basket or the bed. Why would you put a lit lamp under the bed, Jesus? Exactly! You put it on a lampstand so it can shine its light. Then he says that nothing is really secret, it just has yet to be illuminated and revealed.
Do you think people were ever frustrated when they talked to Jesus? I mean, this is some near Yoda level obfuscation of speech.
More parables! The kingdom of God is a seed that is sown but the farmer has the good sense to patiently wait for it to grow before he harvests it. The kingdom of God is also a teeny tiny mustard seed that will eventually become a great and mighty shrub. The kingdom comes quietly and silently, but will eventually produce grand fruit. Most people expected the Messiah to come as a strong military warrior that would lead a violent rebellion to overthrow the Romans. Instead they got Jesus, the lover of sandwiches.
Abruptly, Jesus decides they should take their boat to the other side of the sea. No one apparently checked the weather first, though. When they get out on the water, a great storm surges and their trusty escape boat is tossed in the waves. Everyone is panicking, except for Jesus who was fast asleep. Are these people getting annoyed with Jesus, yet? He runs off in the middle of the night (presumably with all the sandwiches), people rip a hole in The Rock's roof to get to him, the crowds of people are so large that the entourage has trouble being able to eat, and now they're out on the sea in the middle of a nasty storm and Jesus is asleep. Do you think any of them thought, for even just a moment, that if they took a page from Jonah and tossed Jesus overboard that the storm might subside?
No? Okay, moving on.
They wake Jesus up and, presumably inbetween yawns, Jesus orders the wind and the waves to be still. And they cooperate! The sea is instantly brought to a dead calm. And then Jesus scolds them for waking him up. I mean he scolds them for being afraid and for not having faith. Everyone else was amazed at what had happened. It was a rather Moses thing to do, this controlling of the sea, but Jesus didn't even have to use a staff!
Staffless Moses, that's what they called him.
Thus ends the Fourth Chapter of Mark.