Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Mitch Reads... Mark 9
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?
However, maybe the kingdom of God means something else, something a bit more vague and ambiguous. Perhaps Jesus' death and resurrection actually did institute the kingdom he was talking about, but in a "now, but not yet" type of way. That's probably not all that satisfying for the literalists out there, but Jesus was a dude that talked in parables and metaphor a lot.
Six days later (Mark is uncharacteristically exact here), Jesus takes The Rock and the Boanerges (Thunder Twin powers, activate!) up a high mountain. Jesus becomes transfigured and his clothes are so white that bleach would not improve them. When was bleach invented? Seriously, how does Mark know about bleach? Can you get it in a gallon jug at the Temple market? I guess I didn't know bleach was such an ancient knowledge. Nifty.
Right, transfiguration. Elijah and Moses appear next to bleach Jesus and the voice from Jesus' baptism declares again that Jesus is his beloved son. The Rock freaks out a bit and suggests they construct three tents or huts for the three to live in. That probably wouldn't be my reaction, but at least The Rock is trying to do something constructive.
But then Elijah and Moses disappear and bleached Jesus becomes regular Jesus again. They go back down the mountain and Jesus tells the others not to tell anyone about what happened until after he had been resurrected. Messianic Secret, don't you know.
Having just seen Elijah, I suppose, they ask why it is believed that he must come first before the messiah. Jesus says that Elijah has already come, and the people treated him pretty poorly. Basically, John was Elijah. I guess?
When they reach the base of the mountain, they witness a hubbub in a crowd. A man has brought his demon afflicted son to be healed, but the disciples could not drive the demon out, try as they might. The father asks if Jesus is able to heal the boy. Jesus almost scoffs at this. Of course he is able! The man only needs to believe. So the man says he believes and Jesus calls the demon out. The boy goes into a frenzy and collapses to the ground, causing most witnesses to assume the boy is dead. Way to go, Jesus.
However, Jesus picks the boy up and it turns out the kid is just fine. Later, the disciples ask why they could not drive the demon out, and Jesus says that kind of demon can only be removed through prayer. What exactly does that mean, Jesus? And when did you have time to pray about this beforehand? Did Mark leave out the part where you went away for half an hour, prayed, and then returned before helping the boy?
From there they sneak through Galilee, hoping no one will notice them. Once more Jesus tells his disciples that he will be killed and raised from the dead. However, they still didn't understand this and were afraid to ask him about it, probably because he would snap at them again about how they don't understand what is going on. So instead, they just debate who among them will be the greatest.
When they reach the house in Capernaum, The Rock points out that his roof still isn't fixed. At least, by now he probably should have. Jesus then asks them what they were arguing about on their travels. They reluctantly tell them about their argument. Jesus sits down and explains more to them about, as John D. Caputo calls it, the madness of the kingdom. "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all," he says, before picking up a child. Where did Jesus get a child? Was he just hiding it behind his back until such an opportune moment? Or is this what The Rock's wife has been up to this whole time? Anyway, Jesus says if they welcome such a child in his name, they also welcome him.
John points out that someone who was not part of their group was casting out demons in Jesus' name. Jesus isn't bothered by this and says it's all good. This Jesus movement isn't as exclusive as they may think it is, or want it to be. Jesus then moves into some pretty gruesome language, saying that if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It's better to lose a foot than to be cast into the garbage fire outside Jerusalem. I mean hell. Actually, no, I really mean the garbage fire, but we take that to mean hell. Have we established yet that Jesus liked to speak in metaphor?
Some time later, the church leader Origen would take these words a little too seriously. The wise teacher found himself getting a little too fresh with his female students. Not wanting to be cast into the garbage fire outside Jerusalem, Origen literally cut off certain parts of his anatomy. I really hope one of the classes Origen taught wasn't Sex Ed.
Thus ends the Ninth Chapter of Mark.