Monday, June 15, 2015
Mitch Reads... Mark 8
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.
Jesus dismisses the well fed crowd and goes in his escape boat to the district of Dalmanutha, which sounds like a Star Wars villain. The Pharisees there argue with Jesus and demand a sign from him. Jesus scoffs at them and leaves once again in his trusty escape boat. They really should have named that escape boat.
While sailing, Jesus tells his entourage to beware the yeast of the Pharisees. His disciples, misunderstanding his metaphor, think Jesus is upset with them for not bringing any bread on the boat. Did they eat the seven baskets of leftover fish sandwiches already?
Becoming frustrated, Jesus asks why on earth they are talking about actual bread. He rants about their inability to comprehend with a series of insulting rhetorical questions. He asks how many baskets of leftovers they collected each time they fed a multitude. After answering correctly, Jesus asks if they still do not understand. Jesus, I'm going to guess no, they still do not understand.
The escape boat stops again at Bethsaida and some locals bring a blind man to Jesus. Taking the man outside of the village (healing is country work?), Jesus puts saliva on the man's eyes (eww) and lays hands on him. He then ask if the man can see. The man replies that he sees Ents. Treebeard is walking off in the distance.
Okay, not exactly. The man says he can see people, "but they look like trees, walking." Close enough to Ents, right? Anyway, Jesus is like, "Crap, here, let me try again. Is this better?"
Right, so Jesus didn't say exactly that, at least not that Mark recorded. But Jesus does try again, laying his hands on the man once more and after a few intense moments the blind man's sight is fully restored. What do we do with this, though? Jesus preformed a miracle, but it didn't quite take on the first try. That's not something we would expect. People can merely touch his cloak and be healed. Why does Jesus have to put forth sincere effort, twice, to fully heal this man?
I don't know. Maybe, instead of taking this literally, we might look at in in conjunction with what just happened in the chapter. Jesus keeps trying to get his disciples to "see," but they are still "blind" to the bigger picture of his work. Time after time Jesus attempts to explain parables to the disciples, but they still have difficulty understanding. Anyway, Jesus instructs the man to go directly home, avoiding the village they just came from. Jesus has to maintain his Messianic Secret, after all.
The Jesus crew heads to the region by Caesarea Philippi and Jesus asks his entourage who people say he is. They recite what people were saying in chapter 6: he is like a prophet of old, or Elijah, or John the Baptist returned from the dead. He then asks who they, specifically, says he is. The Rock asserts that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus responds by telling them not to tell anyone. Messianic Secret, boys! Also, Jesus repeatedly telling people not to narc him out is starting to feel kind of sketchy. Or is that just me?
Jesus then openly told them that the Son of Man must suffer, die, and be raised three days later. The Rock took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Jesus for what he said. "There's no way you're going to be killed, man, no way! Not while the The Rock is around, that's for sure! Also, when are we going to do something about my roof?" Jesus gets right back in The Rock's face and says the infamous line, "Get behind me, Satan!" The Rock is stuck thinking in an earthly, material manner. Such concerns would only impede God's divine plan, which is the whole death and resurrection thing, apparently.
He then gathers a crowd around him and declares that whoever follows him must deny themselves. In order to gain one's life, they must first lose it. Such logical contradictions seem foolish to the earthly thinking that The Rock was just expressing. But the divine thinking of Jesus is full of such foolishness.
Thus ends the Eighth Chapter of Mark.