The use of parables (Mk 4:2-4:2)

“Jesus began

To teach them

Many things

In parables.

This is what

He said to them

In his teaching,”

 

καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς ἐν παραβολαῖς πολλά, καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ

 

A similar statement can be found in Matthew, chapter 13:3, and Luke 8:4.  This is the beginning of the parable section in Mark.  Jesus taught them many things in parables (καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς ἐν παραβολαῖς πολλά).  This is how Jesus delivered most of his teachings (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ).  Parables were one of the many literary forms in the biblical literature.  These parables of Jesus can be found in all the synoptic gospels, since they represent about 1/3 of Jesus’ teachings.  These simple and memorable stories conveyed important messages, central to the teachings of Jesus.  Many of Jesus’s parables refer to simple everyday events.  The word “parable” can also refer to a riddle, as it was used in the Old Testament.  The use of parables was a natural teaching method that fit into the tradition of the time of Jesus.  Matthew has 23 parables of which 11 are unique.  There are 2 unique parables in Mark and 18 unique parables in LukeMatthew and Luke share 4 parables, while Matthew, Mark and Luke share 6 parables.  Many of these parables have been subjects of art and literature, especially during the Middle Ages.

Teaching from the boat (Mk 4:1-4:1)

“Again,

Jesus began to teach

Beside the sea.

A very large crowd

Gathered about him.

Thus,

He got into a boat

On the sea.

He sat there.

The whole crowd

Was beside the sea

On the land.”

 

Καὶ πάλιν ἤρξατο διδάσκειν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν. καὶ συνάγεται πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλος πλεῖστος, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα καθῆσθαι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἦσαν.

 

A similar statement can be found in Matthew, chapter 13:1, and Luke, chapter 8:4.  However, Luke does not indicate where he was, except that there was a large crowd.  Mark indicated that Jesus began to teach (Καὶ πάλιν ἤρξατο διδάσκειν) beside the Sea of Galilee (παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν).  A great crowd gathered or assembled around him (καὶ συνάγεται πρὸς αὐτὸν ὄχλος πλεῖστος), so that Jesus entered or got into a boat (ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς πλοῖον ἐμβάντα).  He then sat there in the boat (καθῆσθαι) that was in the sea (ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ), while the whole crowd was on the beach shore land near the sea (καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἦσαν).  Sitting was the normal way that teachers taught.

Jesus replies about his family (Mk 3:33-3:35)

“Jesus replied.

‘Who is my mother?

Who are my brothers?’

Looking at those

Who were sitting

Around him

In a circle,

He said.

‘Here is my mother!

Here are my brothers!

Whoever does

The will of God

Is my brother,

Is my sister,

And is my mother.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτοῖς λέγει Τίς ἐστιν ἡ μήτηρ μου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί;

καὶ περιβλεψάμενος τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν κύκλῳ καθημένους λέγει Ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ μου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί μου.

ὃς ἂν ποιήσῃ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ, οὗτος ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀδελφὴ καὶ μήτηρ ἐστίν.

 

Luke, chapter 8:21, and Matthew, chapter 12:48-50, have something similar, but Matthew is closer to Mark, while Luke has a simple concluding statement.  Mark said that Jesus made a distinction between his biological family and his new spiritual family.  Jesus replied to the person who told him about his relatives (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτοῖς λέγει).  He asked him who his mother was and who his brothers were (Τίς ἐστιν ἡ μήτηρ μου, καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί).  He looked at those who were sitting around him in a circle (καὶ περιβλεψάμενος τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν κύκλῳ καθημένους).  He said (λέγει) that they were his mother (Ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ μου) and his brothers (καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί μου).  Anyone who did the will of God (ὃς ἂν ποιήσῃ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ), not his heavenly Father, as in Matthew, would be his brother (οὗτος ἀδελφός μου), his sister (καὶ ἀδελφὴ), and his mother (καὶ μήτηρ ἐστίν).  No longer was a biological family important, because there was now a new spiritual faith family of Jesus believers.  This idea of a new faith family was common among many religious groups, since their fellow believers were now their new family.

His family asks for Jesus (Mk 3:32-3:32)

“A crowd

Was sitting

Around Jesus.

They said to him.

‘Look!

Your mother,

Your brothers,

And your sisters

Are outside,

Asking for you.’”

 

καὶ ἐκάθητο περὶ αὐτὸν ὄχλος, καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ἰδοὺ ἡ μήτηρ σου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί σου καὶ αἱ ἀδελφαί σου ἔξω ζητοῦσίν σε.

 

Luke, chapter 8:20, and Matthew, chapter 12:47, have something similar, almost word for word, so that Mark might be the source of this saying.  Mark indicated that someone from the crowd sitting around him (καὶ ἐκάθητο περὶ αὐτὸν ὄχλος) said that he should look (καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Ἰδοὺ) because his mother (ἡ μήτηρ σου), his brothers (καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί σου), and his sisters (καὶ αἱ ἀδελφαί σου) were outside (ἔξω) wanting to talk to him or searching for him (ζητοῦσίν σε).  Matthew and Luke never mentioned anything about his sisters, only his brothers, who were all unnamed.

Jesus’ mother and brothers come to him (Mk 3:31-3:31)

“Then his mother

And his brothers

Came.

They were

Standing outside.

They sent to him.

They called him.”

 

Καὶ ἔρχονται ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔξω στήκοντες ἀπέστειλαν πρὸς αὐτὸν καλοῦντες αὐτόν.

 

Luke, chapter 8:19, and Matthew, chapter 12:46, have something similar.  Mark said that his mother and brothers came (Καὶ ἔρχονται ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ), but apparently, they could not reach him because of the crowd.  They were standing outside (καὶ ἔξω στήκοντες).  They sent for him (ἀπέστειλαν πρὸς αὐτὸν).  They called Jesus (καλοῦντες αὐτόν).  This brings up all kinds of questions.  Who were these unnamed brothers?  To what extent was Jesus estranged from his family?  Jesus had been close to John the Baptist and his early apostles Peter, Andrew, John, James and Matthew.  These brothers could be biological brothers, half-brothers from a first marriage of Joseph, or cousin relatives.  The Hebrew and Aramaic language did not have a distinctive word for cousins, so that the word “brother” was often used to mean more than a biological brother.  However, the Greek language did have a word for cousins.  Just as today, people sometimes refer to others as brothers or sisters, when there is no biological link.  The traditional belief of Christians, even through the Reformation period, had been that Mary was a virgin, so that Jesus was her only divine son.  Thus, here the unnamed mother and the unnamed brothers of Jesus were outside wanting to speak to Jesus.  They clearly were relatives of Jesus, but exactly how close a relative is not clear.

The unclean spirit (Mk 3:30-3:30)

“They have said.

‘He has an unclean spirit.’”

 

ὅτι ἔλεγον Πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον ἔχει.

 

There are no equivalent passages to this ending remark of Mark.  They said that this blasphemer had an unclean spirit (ὅτι ἔλεγον Πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον ἔχει).  Therefore, he could not be cleansed.

 

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:29-3:29)

“But whoever blasphemes

Against the Holy Spirit

Can never have forgiveness.

But he is guilty

Of an eternal sin.”

 

ὃς δ’ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος.

 

There are similar statements to this in Matthew, chapter 12:31, and Luke, chapter 12:10.  Both Matthew and Luke said that it might be okay to disrespect the Son of Man, but it was quite another thing to speak against or blasphemy the Holy Spirit.  Blasphemy was profaning the name of God.  If you profaned the Holy Spirit, you were hopeless.  If you gave up on God and his Spirit, there was no hope of forgiveness.  God would forgive all human sins and blasphemies.  Whoever blasphemed against the Holy Spirit (ὃς δ’ ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον), would never be forgiven even in eternity (οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα).  He would be guilty of an eternal sin (ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος). Anyone who spoke against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven either now or in the future.