Make this stone into bread (Lk 4:3-4:3)

“The devil

Said to Jesus.

‘If you are

The Son of God,

Command this stone

To become

A loaf of bread!’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος Εἰ Υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, εἰπὲ τῷ λίθῳ τούτῳ ἵνα γένηται ἄρτος.

 

Once again, this is the same as Matthew, chapter 4:3, nearly word for word.  Luke said that this devil spoke to Jesus (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος) after he had endured this 40 day fast.  Jesus was really hungry at this time.  Then this devil taunted Jesus by telling him that if he was truly the son of God (Εἰ Υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ), he could just say the word and make a stone turn into a loaf of bread (εἰπὲ τῷ λίθῳ τούτῳ ἵνα γένηται ἄρτος).  Then Jesus could eat this loaf of bread and take away his hunger.  This terminology of the “Son of God” indicated a special relationship with God.  Matthew called this devil, the tempter.

Summary of the Gospel of Mark

There is no agreement on the structure of Mark.  There is, however, a widely recognized break.  There were numerous miracle stories in Galilee.  However, after this, there are hardly any miracles, as the action shifts from Galilee to the gentile areas or the hostile Judea.  Jesus became more of a teacher. Another turning point was his arrival in Jerusalem.

Mark started with Jesus preparing for his ministry.  Mark explained that this was the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Immediately, he introduced John the Baptist, someone like the prophet Isaiah or Malachi, a voice in the wilderness.  People went out to be baptized by John the Baptizer.  Mark presented a description of John and his preaching.  John had a baptism of water.  Jesus came to John to be baptized.  At the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit descended on Jesus with a voice from heaven.  Then the temptations of Jesus took place as the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.

The ministry of Jesus in Galilee began with the arrest of John the Baptist.  Jesus had the same message as John.  “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand!”  Then Jesus called his first four disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, the sons of Zebedee.

Jesus began teaching in the Capernaum synagogue, but he taught with authority.  Jesus rebuked the man with the unclean spirit.  Why did the unclean spirits obey Jesus?  The fame of Jesus spread throughout Galilee.

Jesus healed the mother-in-law of Simon.  He went to his house where Simon’s sick mother-in-law was there.  He then cured her, but they brought many sick and possessed people to Jesus.  He also cured them.  Jesus prayed alone in the early morning, but Simon and his friends pursued Jesus.  Jesus came to preach, so that he taught in the Galilee synagogues.  Jesus then cured a leper who wanted to be clean.  However, he told this cleansed leper not to tell anyone except the priest.  Yet this cured leper told everyone.

Jesus cured a paralytic in his home town of Capernaum.  It was a very crowded place, so that they brought a paralytic to Jesus through the roof.  Jesus forgave the paralytic his sins.  The scribes thought that this was blasphemy.  Jesus then questioned his detractors.  He posed a question.  Then he healed the paralytic as he walked away.

Next Jesus called Levi, as he was teaching beside the sea.  Then Jesus had a meal with some tax collectors.  The Scribes and Pharisees complained, but Jesus said that physicians went to the sick people.  They wanted to know why the disciples were not fasting.  Jesus responded that there would be no fasting while the bridegroom was present.  Fasting would come later.  You could not have good patching, with new wine in old wineskins.

The disciples of Jesus were plucking grain on the Sabbath.  Then Jesus explained about David and the holy bread.  He said that he, Jesus, was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Would Jesus heal the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath?  What can you do on the Sabbath?  Jesus healed his hand, as the Pharisees and Herodians conspired together.

Jesus tried to get away from the crowds, as they came from everywhere.  Jesus wanted to get into a boat, but many people wanted to be healed.  Jesus controlled the unclean spirits while keeping his messianic secret.

Jesus went up a mountain to institute the Twelve.  He appointed twelve apostles.  Peter was the first, then the sons of Zebedee, and then the other apostles, including Judas Iscariot.  Big crowds came to see Jesus, including his family.  But he reacted negatively to his family.

The Scribes claimed that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebul.  Jesus responded to them with his house divided speech.  Satan would come to an end.  Just as the thief binds up people before he steals anything, they should be aware.  There would be a forgiveness for all sins except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was going to have a new family.  Who were his mother and brothers?  His family asked for Jesus, but Jesus was leaving his old family behind.

Jesus told the story or parable of the sower, as he was teaching from a boat.  He explained his use of parables.  The sower went out to sow.  The lost seeds that fell on the path, on the rocky ground, and among the thorns did not develop.  However, the seeds on the good ground did.  They needed good ears to hear.  When Jesus was alone with the twelve apostles, he explained the secret of the parables.  He had a citation from Isaiah.  He asked if they understood this parable?  He explained that the seeds were the word of God and how they fell on the path, on rocky ground, among the thorns, and on good ground.

Jesus had many other parables about the use of a lamp, nothing hidden, good ears to hear, giving gifts, good seeds growing, harvest time, the Kingdom of God, and the mustard seed.  Thus, Jesus spoke in parables.

There was a storm at sea as Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee.  The boats left the shore as the great storm arose.  Jesus was asleep, but he woke up to stop the storm.  Jesus wanted to know why were they afraid?  How can Jesus control the wind and the sea?

Next Jesus cured the demoniac.  He went to the Gerasenes, where he met a man with an unclean spirit.  This man displayed a wild behavior, like a demoniac.  However, the man with the unclean spirit worshiped Jesus.  He wanted the unclean spirit to come out of him.  Jesus wanted to know his name, but the demoniac wanted to stay there.  There were some swine on a hillside, so that Jesus sent the unclean spirits into the swine.  Then the swine herdsmen fled.  The demoniac was cured.  When they heard this story, they asked Jesus to leave.  However, the former possessed man wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus refused this former possessed man.  Then Jesus was on to Decapolis.

Jesus then healed the daughter of Jairus after he had gone back to the other side of the sea.  Jairus came forward and requested that Jesus heal his daughter.  As Jesus was on his way there, a woman with a blood flow wanted to touch Jesus.  When she did, she was healed.  Jesus wanted to know who had touched him.  It was a pretty big crowd, but the woman came forward.  Her faith had saved her.  Meanwhile, when they arrived at Jairus’s house, they said that his daughter was dead.  Jesus told him to just believe.  He took his three trusted apostles with him.  Everyone was upset.  Jesus said that the child was sleeping.  Only the family was there when Jesus cured the young girl.  He told them not to tell anyone.

Then Jesus went home, to his own town.  He taught in the synagogue.  Once again, the family of Jesus came and he said that a prophet is without honor in his own country.  Jesus was disappointed.

Next Jesus sent out the twelve apostles.  He told them what to take on their mission.  They were to stay wherever they were sent.  They should shake off the dust of their feet if they were not accepted.  They were to preach repentance, casting out demons.

King Herod heard about Jesus.  He thought that he might be Elijah or that John the Baptist had reappeared as Jesus.  Herod had seized John the Baptist, after John said that his marriage was not lawful.  He wanted to kill John, but he feared John.  On the birthday of Herod, he was going to grant a wish to his step daughter.  She asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Herod did not want to break his word.  Thus, they brought him the head of John the Baptist, while his body was put in a tomb.

The first multiplication of bread took place after the apostles returned.  They went to a deserted place, but the crowds followed then.  Jesus said that they were like sheep without a shepherd.  His apostles wanted to send them away so that they could buy food.  They only had a few loaves of bread.  The crowd sat down on the grass in groups.  Jesus blessed and broke the bread.  Then everyone had enough as they collected the leftovers.

Jesus went to pray as the disciples went to Bethsaida.  They were at sea when Jesus walked on the sea towards them.  The disciples were afraid, but Jesus calmed the wind.  They still did not understand Jesus.  Jesus went to Gennesaret where he was recognized.  Thus, they brought sick people to him and then he healed them.

Jesus had many run-ins with the Pharisees.  The Pharisees and the Scribes come from Jerusalem to complain about the disciples of Jesus.  They were not following the tradition of the elders about washing cups and hands before they ate.  Why did the disciples not follow tradition?  Jesus used the prophecy of Isaiah to indicate the difference between the traditions of men and the tradition of Moses.  They were forgetting about their parents and going against the word of God.  Jesus wanted them to listen and understand.  What defiled a person is not what goes into a person but what comes out.  They needed good ears to hear.  The disciples asked Jesus to explain about the parables.  Jesus explained that all food is clean.  What comes out of a person defiles them, since evil comes from the human heart.

Jesus cured the Canaanite woman’s daughter and the deaf mute.  Then he fed the four thousand people.  He was not going to give any signs.  However, he did cure a person with spit.

Jesus went outside of Galilee.  He cured the gentile woman’s daughter as he went into Tyre.  He met a woman with a possessed daughter.  However, she was a gentile.  Jesus wanted to feed the bread to the children of Israel, but she said that the dogs can eat the crumbs from the table.  Thus, Jesus cured her daughter.  Then in Decapolis, Jesus cured the deaf person.  He touched this person to cure his speech impediment.  Once again, Jesus told him not to tell anyone.  They were all astonished.

Mark had a second multiplication of loaves when a great crowd was hungry.  Jesus had compassion for this crowd.  He felt that they would faint on the way home.  How could they feed them?  How many loaves did they have?  Jesus blessed the loaves of bread and the fish.  Every one of the four thousand people were filled.  Then Jesus and the disciples left.

The Pharisees were seeking a heavenly sign from Jesus.  He said that no sign would be given to this generation.  Then Jesus traveled to the other side of the Jordan River.  He told them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees.  They had forgotten to bring bread.  They told Jesus that they had no bread.  Jesus reprimanded them because they did not understand and did not have seeing eyes.  He told them to remember the multiplication of the loaves.  Jesus cured the blind man with spit.  First, the man could not see at all, then not clearly, and finally he had his clear sight.  Once again, Jesus did not want him to go back in the village.

Jesus asked his apostles “Who do people say I am?”  They responded that many believed that he was a prophet.  Then Jesus asked then point blank “Who do you think that I am?”  Peter responded that he was the Messiah, the Christ.  As per usual, Jesus told Peter to tell no one.  He said that the Son of Man must suffer.  However, Peter rebuked Jesus and then Jesus rebuked Peter.

Jesus laid down the conditions for following him.  They had to take up their cross.  Saving their life meant that they had to lose it.  What is the value of the whole world?  They should not be ashamed of Jesus because the Kingdom of God was coming.

The transfiguration of Jesus took place with the three disciples on a mountain.  Jesus’ clothes were whiter than white.  Then Elijah and Moses appeared with him.  Peter wanted to make three tents, but they were afraid.  Then a voice said that this is my beloved Son.  Suddenly, only Jesus was there.  As usual, Jesus told them not to tell anyone, so that they kept this a secret.

Why does Elijah come first?  Elijah restores things.  However, the Son of Man must suffer.  Jesus said that Elijah has already been there as they entered into an argument with the Scribes.  The crowd was amazed.  There was a man with a son unable to speak as he described his illness.  The disciples had failed to heal him.  Jesus then asked them to bring the boy unable to speak.  The boy went into a convulsion as Jesus learned the history of this young man.  Jesus said that all things were possible.  The man said he wanted help with his unbelief.  Jesus then commanded the unclean spirit to leave him.  Was the boy dead?  Jesus lifted up the boy.  Why were the disciples not able to do this?  Jesus said that they needed to pray as he then went through Galilee.

Jesus made predictions about the future, but the disciples did not understand them.  Then he asked the disciples what was their discussion about?  They responded that they were discussing who was the greatest?  Then Jesus said that the first shall be last.  He took a little child and issued a welcoming saying about little children.

There were people casting out demons in the name of Jesus who were not with the disciples.  Jesus said that they either were for or against him.  He said that anyone giving water in the name of Christ was doing good.  They were not to cause children to sin.  If there was a problem, cut off their hand.  If necessary, cut off their foot.  Pluck out their eye as the worm does not die with the salted fire.  Salt was good.

Jesus went to Judea.  They began to test him about marriage and divorce.  What did Moses say?  He said that they could get a certificate of divorce due to the hardness of their hearts.  Male and female became one flesh when God joined them together.  The disciples asked Jesus about this again.  He said that divorce was adultery.  A divorced woman would commit adultery.

Jesus said to let the children come to him.  They had to be like a child.  Then he blessed the children.  Jesus addressed the problem of wealth and eternal life.  God alone is good.  They had to follow the commandments.  This man said that he had observed the commandments from his youth.  Jesus then told him to sell what he had.  However, this rich man was sad, because he had so much stuff.  It is hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, just like a camel going through into the eye of the needle.  The apostles wanted to know who could be saved?  Jesus responded that with God all things are possible.

The apostles wanted to know what was going to happen to them.  They said that they had left everything for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.  Jesus said that the first and the last would be different.  While they were on their way to Jerusalem, he told them about the things to come.  The sons of Zebedee came forward.  They wanted to sit on the right and left side of Jesus.  Did they know what they were asking?  They said that they could do it.  Jesus said to them that he did not grant seating arrangements.  The other ten apostles were angry at James and John.  Jesus said that they would not have gentile tyrannical leadership, but servant leadership among themselves, because the Son of Man had come to serve.

There was a blind beggar named Bartimaeus crying “Have mercy on me!”  The disciples told him to be quiet.  Jesus called this blind man and he went to Jesus.  He wanted his sight, so that Jesus said that his faith had made him well.

Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem.  They stopped at Bethphage.  Jesus sent two disciples to get a colt.  They found the colt and brought it to Jesus.  Then they spread garments and branches on the road and shouted Hosanna as Jesus entered Jerusalem.

The next day Jesus was hungry and say a fig tree, but there was no fruit on this tree.  Then Jesus went to the Temple, where he was clearing out the Temple, because it was a house of prayer.  Then there was the plot against Jesus.  Jesus then left Jerusalem.  The next day, they saw the withered fig tree and Peter remembered the curse from the day before.  Jesus said to have faith in God, because then they could move mountains.  They had to believe in their prayer and forgive others.

The Pharisees began to question the authority of Jesus, while he was in the Temple.  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them to explain the baptism of John the Baptist.  They had an argument, but they were afraid of the people, so that they said they did not know.

Mark had the story about the parable of the wicked tenants in the vineyard.  The owner of the vineyard sent his slave to the tenants to collect the rent.  However, the tenants beat one slave, wounded another, and killed many slaves.  Finally, he sent his son, but the wicked tenants killed the heir to the vineyard, the son of the landowner.  Thus, this land owner would destroy the tenants.  The corner stone was often the rejected stone.  This parable was against the Jewish leaders.

Jesus explained paying tribute to Caesar.  The Pharisees and Herodians tried to trap Jesus.  They buttered up Jesus.  They asked him if it was lawful to pay taxes?  Jesus wanted to see a coin.  Whose image was on the coin?  Then he said render to Caesar, what is his.  They were amazed.

Next there was the explanation about the resurrection.  The Sadducees had a question for Jesus.  A brother had a wife with seven brothers.  Each brother died without children, so the other brother married the widow.  Finally, after all the brothers had died, the widow also died.  Whose wife would she be?  Jesus responded that they did not know scriptures.  There would be no marriages in heaven.  The God of Abraham is a living God.

What is the greatest commandment?  Which commandment is first?  The first commandment was about love of God.  The second commandment was about loving your neighbor.  Jesus was right that there was a value to the commandments.  Then there were no more questions.

Jesus wanted to know how come David called his son the Messiah or the Christ.  In the psalms, David called his son Lord.  Jesus said that they should be aware of the Scribes.  Watch what the Scribes do.  Jesus was at the treasury and noticed the poor widow who contributed more with her small coins because she gave out of her poverty.

Mark had Jesus give a long series of talks about the end times.  They noticed how wonderful the Temple was.  The Temple would be thrown down.  In private discussion with his disciples, they wanted to know when this destruction would come.  Jesus warned them not to be led astray by false leaders.  There would be rumors of war and troubles ahead.  They were going to suffer while the gospel would be preached to all nations.  They had to let the Holy Spirit speak.  Family members would turn on each other.  They had to endure and flee to the mountains.  They were not to return to their houses or turn back from the fields.  It would be terrible if they had infants.  They should hope that it would not be in the winter.  There would be great tribulation and shortened days.  They were not to believe that the Christ was near because there would be many false Christs.  Jesus had told them so.  The sun and moon would fail.  They were to watch for the heavens to see the Son of Man coming in a cloud.  He would gather the elect.  Then he talked about the parable of the fig tree.  Thus, they will know when the end is near.  In fact, this generation will not pass away before that.  Jesus said that his words would not pass away.  However, they would not know the day or the hour when all this would happen.  They had to be on watch and awake.  They should not be asleep, so that they had to be vigilant.

The Gospel of Mark ends with the story of the passion and resurrection of Jesus.  The plot against Jesus took place two days before Passover when the chief priests and Scribes gathered to form their plans against Jesus.  It was not going to be during the feast.

Meanwhile, Jesus was at Bethany.  A woman in the house of Simon poured oil on Jesus, that some thought was a waste of ointment, that this oil should have been given to the poor.  However, Jesus said that she had done a good thing.  He remarked that they would always have poor people.  She had anointed his body for burial, so that she will be remembered.

Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus for some money as they began the preparations for the Passover.  Where would they prepare the Passover?  Jesus sent two disciples to set up things.  They found a guest room that was a large upper room.  These two disciples prepared the Passover meal before Jesus came with the twelve apostles.  At the Passover meal, Jesus said that one of his twelve apostles would betray him.  They wondered which of the twelve apostles it would be.  Jesus said woe to the betrayer.

While they were at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist.  He said that this was his body.  They drank from the cup and he said that this was his blood.  They would again drink in the kingdom of God.  They sung a hymn.  Then Jesus said that the sheep will be scattered as he was going to Galilee.  Then Jesus predicted Peter’s denial.  Peter said that he would not fall away.  However, Jesus said that Peter would deny him three times.  All the other apostles said that they would not deny Jesus.

They went to Gethsemane, but three apostles went further with Jesus, who was sorrowful as he prayed.  He wanted this cup removed.  But then he found his three trusted apostles asleep.  He asked them why they could not watch and pray with him?  Then Jesus prayed again and then came back to find them asleep again.  He asked them why they were sleeping when the betrayer was near.

They seized Jesus as Judas came with a group of people.  He had a signal for the crowd.  He then kissed Jesus and they grabbed him.  Someone cut the ear of the high priest’s slave.  They treated Jesus like a robber, so that scripture was fulfilled.  The apostles fled as they tried to catch a naked man.

Jesus was led before the chief priests at a Jewish assembly.  However, Peter followed Jesus.  Meanwhile, they were looking for testimony against Jesus.  They got false testimony.  They claimed that Jesus had said that they could destroy the Temple and in three days, he would rebuild it.  Besides, their testimony did not agree.  They wanted to know why did Jesus not answer as he remained silent.  Finally, Jesus responded.  Then they said that they did not need witnesses.  They condemned Jesus to death and they taunted him.

Meanwhile, Peter denied Jesus.  He ran into a maid who said that he was with Jesus, but Peter denied it.  Again, she said that he was one of them.  Once again, Peter denied Jesus.  Peter was confronted a third time, but he began to swear.  Just then, the cock crowed a second time.

The Jewish leaders turned over Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea.  He asked Jesus if was the King of the Jews?  Many accusations had been made against Jesus, but he did not answer.

Then Pilate decided to release one prisoner, as was his custom.  They asked for Barabbas.  Pilate asked the crowd if they wanted the King of the Jews?  He knew that they had turned Jesus over to him out of jealousy.  However, they insisted on Barabbas.  Then he said what should I do with Jesus?  They responded “Crucify him!”  Pilate asked what evil had he done?  Nevertheless, Pilate released Barabbas.

Next Jesus went to the Roman palace courtyard.  The Roman soldiers placed a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him saying “Hail King of the Jews.”  Then they led him away to crucify him.  Simon of Cyrene helped him carry his cross until he got to Golgotha, the place of the skull.  Jesus was offered wine to drink.  They divided his garments.  It was nine in the morning when the crucifixion began.  They put an inscription on the cross.  There were two robbers on either side of Jesus, so that Scripture might be fulfilled.  The passerby people and the chief priests mocked Jesus.  Why does he not come down from the cross?  Then there was darkness from noon to three when Jesus uttered a cry.  Some thought that he was calling Elijah.  They gave him something to drink.  When he breathed his last breath, the Temple curtain was torn in two.  The Roman centurion said that this man was the Son of God.  There were some women followers from Galilee.  This was the day before the Sabbath.  Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to get the body of Jesus.  Pilate wondered if Jesus was dead.  Then he gave the body to Joseph, who put the body in a new tomb.  Some women named Mary saw where the tomb was.

Jesus made a series of appearances after his resurrection.  He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, who told everyone.  However, they did not believe her.  Then there were two walking disciples who saw Jesus, but they did not believe them either.  Finally, Jesus appears to the eleven apostles.  He told them to preach the gospel to everyone.  Either they would believe or be condemned.  Thus, we have the shorter and longer endings of Mark.  They would be miracle workers.  Jesus ascended into heaven and the apostles were dispersed.  Mark is the only canonical gospel with significant various alternative endings.  However, most of the contents of the traditional longer ending of Mark are not unique to Mark.

My Understanding of the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel according to Mark was short and sweet.  This author got to the point as he portrayed Jesus as a man of power and action, a super hero.  Jesus was not happy about his followers and often displayed his anger.  Clearly, Jesus was the Son of Man and the Son of God.

This gospel is the shortest of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels.  In most Bibles, it is the second New Testament gospel, following The Gospel according to Matthew. This gospel book of Mark is about Jesus, the Son of God.  It started from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and resurrection.  There was no genealogy or birth narrative of Jesus here.  Mark pictured Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker, who kept his divine identity a secret.

This Gospel of Mark probably dates from 66–70 CE.  Traditionally it was thought to be a summary of Matthew.  However, today most scholars now regard it as the earliest written gospel, the work of an unknown author working with various sources.  It was probably written during Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome or during the Jewish revolt in Israel.  This author used a variety of pre-existing sources and collections of sayings.  Although most scholars hold that Mark was written first, others hold that Matthew was the first to be written.  Good evidence suggests a date for Mark’s Gospel at some time in the late 60s.

The Gospel of Mark was written anonymously, although early Christian tradition ascribed it to John Mark, a companion and interpreter of the apostle Peter. This John Mark was the son of a widow woman named Mary. according to Acts, chapter 12:12-17, since the disciples met in Mary’s home.  John Mark was also the cousin of Barnabas, according to Colossians, chapter 4:10.  This John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys.  However, Paul scolded him and would not allow him to continue.  Thus, this John Mark left the missionaries for unknown reasons, as indicated in Acts, chapter 13:13.  Paul and Mark later reconciled, as Paul added that Mark was useful for his ministry in Colossians, chapter 4:10.

While the clues are not conclusive, they do point to a man writing to a Roman audience; who directly, or indirectly, knew Simon Peter and the Roman church.  John Mark fits the bill best.  Like the other three canonical gospels, the early church was unanimous in their acceptance that John Mark was the writer of this second gospel.  Papias of Hierapolis (60-130 CE) provided the earliest witness to Mark.  Irenaeus of Lyons (130-200 CE) also concurred.  Thus, the early Christian church leaders agreed that John Mark was the author of the second gospel.

It looks like John Mark wrote his Gospel while still in Rome for a Roman gentile audience.  While John Mark was not a primary witness to the life of Jesus of Nazareth, he was like a scribe to Peter, who was a primary witness to the life of Jesus.  The author of this second canonical gospel, probably John Mark, used the term “immediately” often.  He focused on the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, often discussing his emotions.  He also explained Jewish customs and used Latin terms.  The mention of Simon of Cyrene as the father of Alexander and Rufus, who were known to the believers in Rome is another indication of a Roman origin.  This second gospel focused upon the life of Simon Peter quite a bit.  One of the highlights of this gospel was Peter’s declaration that Jesus was the Messiah.  Finally. There was the bizarre instance in the Garden of Gethsemane that might postulate this unknown man was the author himself.

Mark was written in Greek, as he explained and translated Jewish traditions and Aramaic terms for the Greek-speaking Christian Romans.  He may have been influenced by Greco-Roman biographies and rhetorical forms, popular novels, romances, and the Homeric epics.  However, there are no allusions to Greek or Roman literature.  All his references are to Jewish scriptures from the Greek version of the Septuagint.  He depicted Jesus as being caught up in the end times events.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke bear a striking resemblance to each other, so that their contents can easily be set side by side in parallel columns.  The fact that they share so much material in common and yet also exhibit important differences has led to a number of hypotheses explaining their interdependence, often referred to as the Synoptic Problem.

Traditionally, Mark was thought to be a summary of Matthew.  The 19th century recognition of Mark as the earliest gospel led to the belief that it must therefore be the most reliable.  However, many see Mark’s sequence of episodes as an artificial construct with a theological motivation.  Nevertheless, this gospel still seems the most reliable in terms of its overall description of Jesus’s life and ministry.  Nevertheless, there are nearly forty unique sayings in Mark that are not found in the other gospels.

Christianity began within Judaism.  A specific Christian church or assembly arose within Judaism shortly after Jesus’s death, when some of his followers claimed to have witnessed him risen from the dead.  Thus, from the outset, Christians depended heavily on Jewish literature with such key concepts as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Day of the Lord, and the kingdom of God.  Both Jews and Christians believed that the end of history was at hand, that God would very soon come to punish their enemies and establish his own rule.  They were at the center of God’s plans.  Christians read the Jewish scripture as a figure or type of Jesus Christ, so that the goal of Christian literature became the experience of the living Christ.  This new movement spread around the eastern Mediterranean, as well as to the city of Rome.  Christianity assumed a distinct identity, although the groups within it were extremely diverse.

These gospels were written for literate audiences that were already Christian followers of Jesus.  Their purpose was to strengthen the faith of those who already believed, not to convert unbelievers.  These Christian assemblies were small communities of believers, often based on households.  Thus, the proclamations of Jesus mixed the terms Jesus would have used as a 1st-century Jew and those of the early Christian communities themselves.

Mark was traditionally placed second, and sometimes fourth, in the Christian canon, as a somewhat inferior abridgement of what was regarded as the most important gospel of Matthew.  The Church has consequently derived its view of Jesus primarily from Matthew, secondarily from John, and only distantly from Mark.

The earliest and most reliable manuscripts of Mark end at Mark 16:8, with the women fleeing in fear from the empty tomb.  Thus, this is considered the original ending.  A minority of later manuscripts have what is called the shorter ending.  However, the majority of manuscripts have the longer ending.

Mark‘s gospel theology emphasizes the good news or the Greek εὐαγγέλιον, since he used this word more often than any other writer in the New Testament besides Paul.  Mark also stressed the failures of Jesus’ disciples, especially the twelve apostles.  They did not understand Jesus and his suffering.  This may be a reflection on the lack of understanding of the early Christian followers about their own suffering.  Some have charged Mark of portraying Jesus as a magician, since nearly one third of the book is about miracles and healings.  Jesus somehow tried to hide his identity as the messiah.

Mark used a variety of titles for Jesus.  The title “Son of God” was the most important title.  However, he did not explicitly state what he means by this “Son of God.”  The New Testament presents different understandings of when Jesus became the Son of God.  It could be at his resurrection, his baptism by John the Baptist, his preaching active ministry, his transfiguration, his conception in the womb, or that he always was the Son of God.  The later eternal Son of God is the traditional Christian belief.

The term “Son of God” in Hellenistic culture, meant a divine man, like Hercules, or god-kings of the Egyptian pharaohs.  When the gospels call Jesus “Son of God” was there an intention to place him in this class of Hellenistic and Greek divine men?  Mark may have tried to move away from the Jewish-Christian apocalyptic tradition and towards this Hellenistic message.  Was Christ’s death and resurrection, rather than the apocalyptic Jewish kingdom, the meaning of salvation?

Mark also called Jesus “Christ” or messiah.  In the Hebrew Bible, the term messiah or anointed one described prophets, priests, and kings.  By the time of Jesus, there was no Israelite kingdom.  Thus, this messiah had come to mean an eschatological king at the end of time.  This king would be endowed with miraculous powers, free from sin, and rule with justice and glory.

A third important title, “Son of Man”, has its roots in the prophets and Jewish apocalyptic works, especially in Daniel.  The Son of Man would come on clouds seated on the right hand of God.  In all cases, there terms indicated a reference to kingly power.

The earliest Jewish Christian community saw Jesus as a messiah in this Jewish sense, a human figure appointed by God as his earthly king.  They also believed in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven.  Thus, Jesus was viewed as God’s agent who would return in glory to usher in the Kingdom of God.

All four gospels tell a story in which Jesus’ death and resurrection are the crucial.  However, Mark never calls Jesus “God.”  Mark did not have a virgin birth or an important genealogy for Jesus.  Christians of Mark’s time expected Jesus to return as the Messiah in their own lifetime.  When this return did not happen, the early Christians revised their understanding.  Some acknowledged that the Second Coming had been delayed, but still expected it.  However, others redefined the focus to the promise of eternal life.

 

 

Believe or be condemned (Mk 16:16-16:16)

“The one who believes

And is baptized

Will be saved.

But the one

Who does not believe

Will be condemned!”

 

ὁ πιστεύσας καὶ βαπτισθεὶς σωθήσεται, ὁ δὲ ἀπιστήσας κατακριθήσεται.

 

This longer addition of Mark, is like the addition in Matthew, chapter 28:19-20.  Once again, there was an emphasis on baptism that was not mentioned prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  This Mark addition said that the one who believed (ὁ πιστεύσας) and was baptized (καὶ βαπτισθεὶς) would be saved (σωθήσεται).  However, anyone who did not believe (ὁ δὲ ἀπιστήσας) would be condemned (κατακριθήσεται).  Thus, this recommendation also brought a condemnation.  Belief and baptism were important.

Jesus appears to the eleven apostles (Mk 16:14-16:14)

“Later,

Jesus appeared

To the eleven themselves,

As they were sitting

At the table.

Jesus upbraided them

For their lack of faith

And stubbornness,

Because they had not believed

Those who saw him

After he had risen.”

 

Ὕστερον δὲ ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ὠνείδισεν τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν.

 

The risen Jesus appearing to the eleven apostles can be found in Matthew, chapter 28:16, but in Galilee, and in Luke, chapter 24:36, in Jerusalem.  John, chapter 20:19 and 26 had 2 appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem, and one in Galilee, chapter 21:1.  Here in this addition to Mark, Jesus appeared to them, probably in Jerusalem.  The apostles were sitting or reclining at the table (Ὕστερον δὲ ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς).  Then Jesus appeared to the 11 (τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη).  He upbraided or rebuked them (καὶ ὠνείδισεν) for their lack of faith or disbelief (τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν) and their stubbornness or hardness of heart (καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν).  They had not believed (οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν) those who had seen him after his resurrection (ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον).  Once again, there were doubters among these 11 apostles about the resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus was not happy about this.

They deliver Jesus to Pilate (Mk 15:1-15:1)

“As soon as it was morning,

The chief priests

Held a consultation

With the elders,

The Scribes,

And the whole council.

They bound Jesus.

They led him away.

They handed him

Over to Pilate.”

 

Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον, δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπήνεγκαν καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ  

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 27:1-2, except that Mark did not mention the decision to bring Jesus to death.  In Luke, chapter 23:1, everybody brought Jesus to Pilate.  In John, chapter 18:28, there was a long discussion of Pilate with the Jewish leaders, after they brought Jesus to Pilate.  However, they had to stay outside the Roman court, so as not to defile themselves during the Passover festival.  Mark said that as soon as it was early in the morning (Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ), after the all-nighter evening meeting at the house of the high priest of Jerusalem, the chief priests (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) with the elders or presbyters (μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων) and the Scribes (καὶ γραμματέων) conferred together or came to a resolution (συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες).  All of this council, tribunal, or Sanhedrin (καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον) agreed.  They tied up or bound Jesus (δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν).  They led him away (ἀπήγαγον).  They delivered him or handed him over to Pilate (καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ).  Whether this was an official meeting or not, they did come up with a conclusion that they would hand Jesus over to the Roman governor of Judea.  Thus, Pilate had jurisdiction over death penalties, since Judea was within the Roman Empire.  Mark did not mention that Pilate was the governor, but this text just assumes that.  Who was this Pontius Pilate?  He was the rather cruel Roman ruler, prefect, or governor of Judea from 26-36 CE, the exact time frame of Jesus.  Interesting enough, a whole literature and artistic presentations of Pontius Pilate developed in the 20th century with movie and TV portrayals of him.  He was certainly a central figure in this presentation about the death of Jesus.

No marriage in heaven (Mk 12:25-12:25)

“When they rise

From the dead,

They neither marry

Nor are given

In marriage.

But they are like

The angels

In heaven.”

 

ὅταν γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῶσιν, οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται, ἀλλ’ εἰσὶν ὡς ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.

 

Jesus continued his explanation here in Mark as in Matthew, chapter 22:30, almost word for word.  Luke, chapter 20:34-36, had a longer explanation.  Mark said that in the afterlife resurrection, when the dead rise (ὅταν γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῶσιν), there will be no marriage or giving in marriage (οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται) because they will all be like angels in the heaven (ἀλλ’ εἰσὶν ὡς ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς).  Humans will take on an angelic way of life.