Thought Provoking Passages
In reviewing the section of the book that deals primarily with the text, I have come across several thought provoking passages that require substantial research and thought.
Here are a few along with some immediate thoughts that come to mind.
1. In this passage a man presents himself to Jesus to be healed of his leprosy. As the text explains, Jesus is ‘moved with compassion’ and instantly the man is healed. However, after the man is healed, Jesus immediately sends him away and does so with a stern warning. There is some debate that the text should read, ‘Jesus was moved with anger’ to make the text consistent. Yet, the ‘moved with compassion’ reading is the most agreed upon. That however leaves us with the inconsistent behavior from Jesus who greets the man with compassion, heals him and then immediately sends him off with a stern warning.
1:40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
2. In this passage Jesus family appears in the text at the point where Jesus is entering a home. As it so happened the crowds became so large Jesus and his disciples couldn’t even get a break. As the story goes, when his family heard about this they tried to go to him and take him away as they thought he was ‘out of his mind,’ or crazy. That’s interesting in that his own family thought he was crazy.
3:20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
3. In this story Jesus has been asked by Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue to come to his home and heal his sick child. On the way though Jesus is stopped and heals another woman from her malady. By the time Jesus arrives at the home of Jairus he is told that the girl has died. Jesus though said she is not dead but only sleeping, to which the crowd laughs and mocks him. Interestingly enough, after Jesus raises the ‘twelve-year-old girl’ and instructs then not to tell anyone, he instructs them to give her something to eat.
5:40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. 41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” 42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.
4. In this passage Jesus has left the disciples to cross the lake while he remained on shore to pray. As the story goes a storm arose and the disciples were caught in the middle of it and were struggling to survive. Interestingly enough, Jesus sees they are in trouble while still on the land and goes to help them. However, as he approached the boat, the author says that Jesus intended to walk past them.
6:47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About the fourth watch of the night. Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.
5. In this passage Mark states that Jesus was traveling from Tyre to the region of the Decapolis, which is by the Sea of Galilee. However, instead of heading directly to the region of the Sea of Galilee, Mark has Jesus’ head in the opposite direction.
7:31 Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Decapolis.
6. In this passage, as the disciples are again crossing the sea, the author clearly states (twice) that they had forgotten to bring any bread. Yet, in the middle of the passage the author mentions that in fact they did have one loaf with them in the boat.
8:14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” 16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet?
7. In this passage a blind man is brought to Jesus with hope that he would restore his eyesight. However, Jesus did not fully restore the eyesight the first time and had to repeat the process before his ‘eyes were opened.’
8:22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” 24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”
8. In this passage Jesus reprimands Peter and calls him Satan. However, just a few verses previous to this it was Peter who recognizes Jesus as the Messiah.
8:33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
9. In this passage Peter is on a mountain with Jesus, James and John for the Transfiguration event. When Peter sees Jesus in his glorifies state, he becomes frightened and doesn’t know what to say, even though he had been a first witness to many miraculous events.
9:5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three tabernacles as memorials, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
10. Finally, in this interesting passage, Mark alone includes this event. Matthew and Luke omit this unusual story as they don’t understand the relevance.
14:50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.
In light of all these thought provoking passages and stories, rest assured that there are some interesting and logical explanations behind Mark’s writing. It is important to understand that the author is very intentional in his work and sets out to establish Jesus as the suffering servant Messiah and that followers who understand this will also be called to bear their crosses as well. That is what the next section of the book is about. What was the thought process behind Mark’s gospel and how was this written? Did Peter’s personal scribe John Mark write out the accounts about Jesus as explained by Peter? That is what church traditions tell us. Did the author write this gospel out in one sitting? Did Mark write this gospel from personal knowledge or did he collect various oral traditions and written stories? These are the questions that frame this part of the book. Needless to say, it is the most challenging aspect of the book.