Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mark 6:1-6 Jesus was a Carpenter

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, "Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?"
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house."
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

In this passage, Mark the Evangelist reminds his readers that miracles could only occur with faith. Unlike the Gospel of John, where miracles were meant to bring people to faith, in the synoptic gospels, the miracles were not possible without faith. What is interesting to note, in this passage we see a glimpse into the life of Jesus. Here, Jesus is named a carpenter. This gives us insight into his lifestyle prior to traveling around ministering to the poor, sick, and lame. He likely picked up this profession from his father.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mark 5:21-43 Jesus heals the hemorrhaging woman

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
"My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live."
He went off with him
and a large crowd followed him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?"
But his disciples said to him,
"You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, Who touched me?"
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said,
"Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?"
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
"Do not be afraid; just have faith."
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
"Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep."
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child's father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,"
which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

In this passage, Jesus performs two miracles: 1) the healing of the hemorrhaging woman, and 2) the healing of the official's daughter. In the first miracle, Jesus does not go after the woman to heal her, it is she who goes after him. She is driven by her faith, and touches his cloak. So often, we blame Jesus for not going after us, yet in this story, what makes this woman special is that she is driven by her faith to meet Jesus. In the second story, what is interesting is that Jesus heals with the word. Here Jesus simply says 'arise' and the girl wakes up. This is similar to how God creates. God does not use hands to create the world, God uses words. Jesus is the word of God and uses words to usher in the Kingdom.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mark 5:1-20 Jesus frees us from our sins

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
"What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!"
(He had been saying to him, "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!")
He asked him, "What is your name?"
He replied, "Legion is my name. There are many of us."
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
"Send us into the swine. Let us enter them."
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
"Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you."
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

In this passage, we are reminded that it is sin that binds us and prevents us from being part of the community. Sin isolates us from others and worst of all isolates us from God. It is not God who shuns us, it is our obsession with sin the prevents us from looking beyond ourselves. Here in this story, Jesus reaches out the the man and cleanses him. His chains are broken and he is free to rejoin the community. Only through the help of Jesus can we brake free from the chains of sin. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mark 1:21-28 Jesus is the Holy One of God

Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are?the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said,
"Quiet! Come out of him!"
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
"What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

In this passage, we see that Jesus is about to be trapped by the unclean spirit. In this time period, if a spirit knew your name it had control over you. But here, the opposite happens. Jesus is able to purify the unclean spirit even though it knew him. It is very interesting that it is the unclean spirit who reveals Jesus' true relationship with God and not one of his disciples. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mark 4:35-41 Jesus Calms the Storm: Have Faith!

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
"Let us cross to the other side."
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up,
rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?"
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
"Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

In this passage, Jesus demonstrates his ability to control the weather. This miracle highlights his divinity. Another way we can interpret this story is that so often in our lives, we lose faith. When life gets rough, we accuse God of abandoning us, similar to how the disciples accuse Jesus of not caring. In this story, Jesus is reminding us that he is always near and that we should have faith. Trust in God is the hardest thing to do because so often we only trust ourselves. May we be given the grace to trust in God and not panic like the disciples on the boat. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mark 4:26-34 The Kingdom of God is Like a Mustard Seed

Jesus said to the crowds:
"This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come."

He said,
"To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

In the first parable, Jesus explains that the kingdom of God will spread similarly to how after a seed is planted, many different factors act on it to allow it to grow. Although we may be preaching the Kingdom of God, what Jesus is saying is that it is made a reality not through our actions but God's. So often in ministry, we get caught up in ourselves and think that it is us who make the Kingdom of God a reality. What Jesus reminds us of is that it is God who makes the Kingdom of God a reality. We are simply the instruments that God uses.

In the second parable, Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. From something so little and insignificant, a huge tree emerges. During Jesus' time, the Church was nothing. It was made up of a small group of people who preached, healed, and served others. When we look at the Church today, we see something radically different. We see large institutions, millions of followers, countless numbers of art and literature all inspired by a poor Palestinian who walked the earth two thousand years ago. Truly, the Kingdom will be that much bigger.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mark 4:21-25 Don't hide a lamp under a Bushel. Share your gifts with the world.

Jesus said to his disciples,
"Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket
or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible;
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear."
He also told them, "Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

In this passage, Jesus reminds us that our gifts are meant to be shared. God has blessed us with many gifts. If we hide these gifts we are like a lamp that is hidden. A lamp that is hidden under a bushel cannot shine. When we hide our gifts or do not use our gifts to proclaim the Kingdom of God, we waste them. May we be given the grace to take chances and share our gifts with the world. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mark 16:15-18 Through Baptism We are Saved

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

In this passage we see Jesus emphasizing the importance of Baptism. Baptism is not meant to be something that excludes people. Baptism is an invitation into living out the Kingdom of God. It is through Baptism that we are initiated into the Church, the ecclesiastical community which is the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. This is why the baptized will be saved. They are not being saved from some external evil power. They are being saved from themselves. Baptism is about living out the gospel message. It is about developing a relationship with God. It is about negating the needs of the self to serve the needs of others. It is the commissioning into service in the Kingdom of God. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mark 3:31-35 Did Jesus have Brothers?

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.
Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."

This passage is very interesting because throughout history there have been many debates regarding this text. Many scholars are torn as to whether Jesus had brothers or not. Many Catholic theologians believe that here the term brother refers to extended family and maintain Mary never lost her virginity. Many Protestant scholars believe this text does point to Jesus having brothers and possibly sisters. These scholars believe that Mary was a virgin when she had Jesus but after she gave birth to other children. The main point of this text, however, is not whether Jesus had biological siblings, but rather that those who accept God and usher in God's Kingdom are his brothers and sisters. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mark 3:22-30 How can Jesus drive out demons?

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
"He is possessed by Beelzebul," and
"By the prince of demons he drives out demons."

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
"How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided,
he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin."
For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

In this passage we see Jesus being accused of exercising demons in the name of Satan. As modern readers, this appears to be very odd since they accept that the demons are being exercised. So the controversy arises from who gives Jesus this power, God or Satan. In this time period, many mental illnesses were associated with demonic possession. It was not abnormal to associate some type of illness to sin or some time of dark spirit. Here, Jesus breaks the stereotypes by aiding these people and even healing them.

Mark 1:14-20 Calling of the Fishermen

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

In this passage we see Jesus calling fishermen to be his disciples. His words "Come after men, and I will make you fishers of men" is significant because he is asking them to drop everything and serve the Kingdom of God. So often we are called, waken out of our routine to do something greater than ourselves, and yet so often we do nothing. We fear the loss of security, the idea of change, and have no faith that God will provide. When God calls, God will provide. May we be given the grace to follow in Christ's footsteps when we are called.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mark 3:13-19 Jesus sends out the Twelve

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

In this passage, we see the beginning of the Church. Jesus appoints Twelve Apostles to minister to the people. Apostles come from the Greek word "To Send". In other words, the Apostles are those Jesus sends out into the world to preach and proclaim the Kingdom of God.  The reason the number twelve is significant is because it connects the actions of the twelve apostles to the twelve tribes of Israel. In other words, it demonstrates God's saving hand in the history of humanity.

Mark 3:7-12 Jesus Ministered to the People through Word and Deed

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him
and shout, "You are the Son of God."
He warned them sternly not to make him known.

In this passage, Mark gives us a snap shot of Jesus' ministry. Jesus heals the sick through touch and exercises spirits. Here it is not the people who call Jesus the Son of God but the unclean spirits. This is because in the Gospel of Mark, the people, like the disciples, are always in the dark and do not fully understand Jesus' role or identity. What is also interesting is that in this time period to know one's name meant to have power over that person. The fact that the demons would fall even though they know the true identity of Jesus makes Jesus that much more powerful. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mark 2:18-22 Jesus calls us into a new way or relationship with God

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
"Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them,
"Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins,
and both the wine and the skins are ruined.
Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."

In this passage, we see Jesus reinforce the idea that he is ushering in a new way of worship. He is being accused by the Pharisees that his disciples are not being orthodox enough. Jesus responds to this accusation by saying his disciples are called to a new way of relationship with God. He, Jesus is God on Earth. Therefore they should celebrate and spend as much time with him as possible. Jesus also reminds us that our time on Earth is also short. We must live each day to its fullest.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

John 1:35-42 Behold, Jesus is the Lamb of God

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God."
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
"What are you looking for?"
They said to him, "Rabbi" - which translated means Teacher -,
"where are you staying?"
He said to them, "Come, and you will see."
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
"We have found the Messiah" - which is translated Christ -.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
"You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas" - which is translated Peter.

In this passage we see Jesus' call and his disciples responses. In these call stories, Jesus does not force the disciples to follow him but rather invites them. He shows them the meaning of the Kingdom of God rather than simply lecture or preach. Jesus is a true teacher because he leads by example. Here we also see Jesus being called the Lamb of God. This is because it is with his sacrifice our sins will be washed away. He is the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sin of the world. He is the lamb who is sacrificed at the temple for the people. This is why in iconography the symbol of Jesus was often a lamb with a banner or chi rho. 

Mark 2:13-17 Jesus came not for the righteous but for sinners

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
"Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus heard this and said to them,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

In this passage we see the Jesus did not come to save the devout and pious. Jesus' ministry is to those who are lost. Here we get a glimpse into Jesus' followers. They were a diverse group coming from many backgrounds. Jesus is followed by fishermen,tax collectors, and sinners. Tax collectors would have been hated in Jesus' time because they did not collect wages from the roman empire. They had to inflate the cost of the taxes to support themselves. They were seen as sell outs by their own people because they supported a foreign occupying power. Jesus' remark: "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" reminds us that we are all sinners. Jesus came to help all of us.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mark 2:12 The Paralytic is Lowered Through the Roof

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
"Child, your sins are forgiven."
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
"Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"
-he said to the paralytic,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

In this passage, Jesus heals the paralytic in a fantastic way. Here we see the paralytic's faith and desire to encounter Jesus. Jesus appears to be able to read another man's mind. This event highlights Jesus' divinity.  This parable also shows that miracles in the Gospel of Mark rely on the person's faith in order to work. Had the paralytic not had such faith the healing would not have taken place.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mark 1:40-45 The Messianic Secret, Jesus heals the Leper

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

In this passage we see a typical theme found in the Gospel of Mark, the Messianic Secret. Here Jesus touches the leper, something that was very taboo at the time and violated the Jewish Religious Law, and tells the leper not to tell anyone. Instantly the leper goes and tells everyone. This is a common theme found in the Gospel of Mark. The healing of this leper appears to be rooted in a historical event because touching a leper was inconsistent with the general attitude towards lepers while being consistent with Jesus' message of salvation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mark 1:29-39 Jesus drives out demons even though they know him

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

In this passage, Mark gives us a snapshot of Jesus' Ministry. It is clear that Jesus healed the sick, he exercised people of demons, he prayed, and went from village to village preaching. This is his ministry which took place after his baptism which lasted about three years until he was crucified. Although some may dispute his divinity, scholars all agree that he was a real person who actively ministered to the communities around him. Another interesting note is that in the passage about driving out the demons, the demons knew he was the Son of Man and Jesus prevented them from speaking. This goes back to the tradition that if a demon knew your name it could control you. If you knew the demon's name you can control it. Here, the demon knows Jesus' true identity and yet he is able to control the demon, making him a super demon crusher.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mark 1:7-11 Jesus' Baptism Marks the Beginning of His Ministry

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

In this passage, Mark illustrates for us the baptism of Jesus. Here we learn a little bit about John the Baptist. His work in proclaiming one mightier than he connects his prophetic work to the prophesy found in Malachi that the Lord will send Elijah. John the Baptist is the New Elijah and here he baptizes Jesus with water. In Mark's baptism Jesus encounters a Dove, an allusion to the Holy Spirit. The voice from the heavens is God the Father's who is blessing Jesus and saying to the world that Jesus' relationship to the Father is that he is the Son of God. Jesus' baptism marks the commissioning of his ministry. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Matthew 2:1-12 The Visitation of the Magi, Behold Christ our New Born King

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

In this passage, Matthew the Evangelist is highlighting Jesus' kingship by having not poor shepherds but magi who adorn him with expensive gifts. Matthew's goal appears to be connecting the birth of Jesus with that of Moses and placing his emphasis on Jesus' royal lineage and his connection to the House of David. This is likely because Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience who would have been familiar with the prophecy that the Messiah will come from the House of David. The magi who visit Jesus were likely scholars and astronomers who were possibly following a comet. Although the magi met with Herod, their real purpose was to met the King of Heaven and Earth, Jesus the Christ.

John 2:1-11 Wedding at Cana, Jesus brings people to him through signs

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although the servers who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
"Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

In this passage, Jesus brings people to him through the miracle of turning the water into wine. This marks the first sign in the Gospel of John. Unlike the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, miracles do not require the faith of the people present, miracles or signs are meant to bring people to faith. Here, Jesus turns the water into wine to prevent disgrace from coming upon the host. If the host had run out of wine it would have been a fiasco and brought disgrace to his family. Also it is important to note that these jars to whom the waiter is referring are not small but huge cauldrons that were placed in the house to purify one's self. Some scholars believe that Mary's role is important because she is the one who directs Jesus to perform this miracle out of compassion for the host.