Sunday, October 21, 2007

Overview of Mark's Gospel

Mark's Gospel is a reMarkable book. People who are looking for discrepancies between the Gospels miss the point that each was written according to a particular plan, and none more so than Mark. He loved to organize his material so that it appeared to balance. The book is in five sections. Beginning in Chapter 1 and ending in Chapter 6 versus 29, he tells us that Jesus is Lord. He like to use bookends for each section and the bookends here are the stories of John the Baptist. His message was "Prepare the way for the Lord." Jesus is demonstrated to be Lord over disease, over Sin, over the Mosaic Law, over the Sabbath, over Satan, over Nature, over evil spirits and over death. In this section also are the kingdom parables, demon stating the nature of his kingship.. This section ends with the beheading of John.

The bookends for the second section are the feeding stories - first the 5000 then the 4000. These two stories are similar but different. The symbolism of the first is distinctly Jewish, but of the second Gentile. Here is the message that Jesus is not just the King of the Jews but King of the whole world. The story of the Syro-Phoenician woman exemplifies it.

The third section is bookended by two healings of the blind; the man at Bethsaida who could see people who looked like trees walking and the later healing of Bartimaeus. Cleverly, this is the passage of enlightenment, where Jesus reveals what was hidden, where he explains what his purposes are and opens the eyes of the disciples.

The fourth section is encapsulated within stories of the Temple. First he clears the Temple and in the end he predicts its destruction. He was the culmination of Temple worship. No longer would God be worshiped in Jerusalem but in the person of Jesus.

The final section is marked by two stories of anointing. First the pint of pure nard at Bethany and finally the women going to anoint his body but finding no body there. The stories include the crucifixion and resurrection and proclaim Jesus as Messiah or Christ. Both words mean 'anointed one'.

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