God alone is good (Mk 10:18-10:18)

“Jesus said to him.

‘Why do you

Call me good?

No one is good

But God alone.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ Θεός.

 

This response of Jesus can be found in Matthew, chapter 19:17, and Luke, chapter 18:19, but slightly different, since Luke and Mark are closer to each other.  They both had this man call Jesus the good teacher.  Mark said that Jesus responded to him (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ) by asking a question.  Why did he call Jesus good (Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν), not a good deed as in Matthew?  No one person was good (οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς).  God alone was good (εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ Θεός).  Matthew did not mention that there was only one good one, God as in Luke and here in Mark.  Jesus appears to distance himself from the good God.

What did Moses say? (Mk 10:3-10:3)

“Jesus answered them.

‘What did Moses

Command you?’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Τί ὑμῖν ἐνετείλατο Μωϋσῆς;

 

This questioning and answering of the Pharisees about divorce can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:3-9, particularly 7-8.  However, it was the Pharisees who brought up Moses, not Jesus there.  Here, Mark said that Jesus answered them (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς), by asking his own question about Moses.  What did Moses command or instruct them to do (Τί ὑμῖν ἐνετείλατο Μωϋσῆς)?

The Pharisees seek a sign from heaven (Mk 8:11-8:11)

“The Pharisees came.

They began

To argue

With Jesus.

They were asking him

For a sign

From heaven.

They wanted

To test him.”

 

Καὶ ἐξῆλθον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ ἤρξαντο συνζητεῖν αὐτῷ, ζητοῦντες παρ’ αὐτοῦ σημεῖον ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, πειράζοντες αὐτόν.

 

This seeking of signs was common among the gospel writers, in Luke, chapter 11:16, and especially in Matthew, chapters 12:38 and 16:1-4.  The Pharisees wanted a sign.  There was no mention of the Scribes here, as in Matthew.  These Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit.  They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Pharisees in the New Testament, often engaged in discussion and disputes with Jesus and his disciples, as here.  Mark said that some of these Pharisees came to Jesus (Καὶ ἐξῆλθον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι).  They began to argue, dispute, or discuss with Jesus (καὶ ἤρξαντο συνζητεῖν αὐτῷ).  They asked him to show them a sign from heaven or a heavenly validation of his work (ζητοῦντες παρ’ αὐτοῦ σημεῖον ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  They wanted to test or tempt Jesus (πειράζοντες αὐτόν).  Heavenly signs had been common among the prophets to prove their authenticity.

How can they feed them? (Mk 8:4-8:4)

“His disciples

Replied.

‘How can we feed

These men

With bread

Here in the desert?’”

 

καὶ ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι Πόθεν τούτους δυνήσεταί τις ὧδε χορτάσαι ἄρτων ἐπ’ ἐρημίας;

 

Matthew, chapter 15:33, has a similar statement about the disciples questioning Jesus, just like in the other story of the first multiplication of loaves for the 5,000 people.  Mark said that the disciples of Jesus responded to him by asking (καὶ ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί αὐτοῦ) where would they get enough loaves of bread to feed or satisfy these people (ὅτι Πόθεν τούτους δυνήσεταί τις ὧδε χορτάσαι ἄρτων) in this desert (ἐπ’ ἐρημίας).  In the earlier feeding of the 5,000, the place was deserted, while here it is a desert or uninhabited place also.

The women with the possessed daughter (Mk 7:25-7:25)

“But a woman,

Whose little daughter

Had an unclean spirit,

Immediately

Heard about him.

She came.

She bowed down

At the feet

Of Jesus.”

 

ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς ἀκούσασα γυνὴ περὶ αὐτοῦ, ἧς εἶχεν τὸ θυγάτριον αὐτῆς πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον, ἐλθοῦσα προσέπεσεν πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ·

 

Matthew, chapter 15:25, has something similar.  Mark did not initially identify this woman.  However, Mark said that a woman immediately heard about Jesus (ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς ἀκούσασα γυνὴ περὶ αὐτοῦ).  She had a little daughter with an unclean spirit, possessed by a demon (ἧς εἶχεν τὸ θυγάτριον αὐτῆς πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον).  She was not asking for a cure for herself, but for her daughter.  She came and bowed down before Jesus in worship at his feet (ἐλθοῦσα προσέπεσεν πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ).

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.

How come the unclean spirits obey? (Mk 1:27-1:27)

“They were all amazed.

They kept on asking

One another.

‘What is this?”

A new teaching

With authority!

He commands

Even the unclean spirits.

They obey him!’”

 

καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες, ὥστε συνζητεῖν αὐτοὺς λέγοντας Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή κατ’ ἐξουσίαν· καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ.

 

This is very similar, almost word for word, to Luke, chapter 4:36.  Mark said, that they were all amazed or astonished (καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες), a common word people used to describe the activities of Jesus.  They kept on saying or asking each other, questioning among themselves (ὥστε συνζητεῖν αὐτοὺς λέγοντας).  What is this new teaching with authority (Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή κατ’ ἐξουσίαν·)?  Thus, he commands even the unclean spirits (καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει) so that they listen or obey him (καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ).  Jesus seemed to have some special spiritual powers that no one else had ever seen.

 

Who is this man? (Mt 21:10-21:11)

“When Jesus

Entered Jerusalem,

The whole city

Was in turmoil.

Asking.

‘Who is this?’

The crowds were saying.

‘This is the prophet Jesus

From Nazareth

Of Galilee.’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἐσείσθη πᾶσα ἡ πόλις λέγουσα Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος;

οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι ἔλεγον Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης Ἰησοῦς ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

 

Only Matthew has these remarks about what happened to Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem (καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα).  Matthew said that the whole city was in turmoil or stirred up wondering (ἐσείσθη πᾶσα ἡ πόλις) who was this man entering the city (Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος).  The crowds (οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι), a favorite theme of Matthew, said that this was the prophet Jesus (ἔλεγον Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ προφήτης Ἰησοῦς), from Nazareth in Galilee (ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  How the crowds could speak with one voice was not explained.  However, there was no messianic overtone here, but merely Jesus as a northern prophet.  Also note that the emphasis was on Jesus from Galilee, the north, rather than a Judean or a southerner.

The crowds welcome the Son of David (Mt 21:8-21:9)

“A very large crowd

Spread their garments

On the road.

Others cut branches

From the trees.

They spread them

On the road.

The crowds went ahead of him.

Others followed him.

They were shouting.

‘Hosanna!

To the Son of David!

Blessed is the one

Who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”

 

ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ.

οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔκραζον λέγοντες Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ· Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου· Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις.

 

Both Mark, chapter 11:8-10, and Luke, chapter 19:36-38, are similar but with slight differences.  Once again, Matthew emphasized the large crowds, as he said that a very large crowd of people (ὁ δὲ πλεῖστος ὄχλος) that spread out their outer garments or coats on the road (ἔστρωσαν ἑαυτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ,).  Meanwhile, others were cutting down branches from the surrounding trees (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔκοπτον κλάδους ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων).  They also spread out these branches on the road (καὶ ἐστρώννυον ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ).  The crowds were in front of him and behind him (οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι οἱ προάγοντες αὐτὸν καὶ οἱ ἀκολουθοῦντες).  They were all shouting out (ἔκραζον λέγοντες) “Hosanna to the Son of David (Ὡσαννὰ τῷ υἱῷ Δαυείδ)!”  He was the blessed one who came in the name of the Lord (Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου).  These hosannas should reach to the highest heaven (Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις).  Hosanna was a Hebrew term of praise asking God to save them.  This saying came from the Hallel chants that was used in the Passover celebration, based on Psalm 118:26.  Later it became part of the Roman Catholic “Sanctus” chant in the Eucharistic celebration.  This event has become the great Palm Sunday celebration, the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Actually only John, chapter 12:13, called these palm branches.  This idea of laying garments on the road can be found in 2 Kings, chapter 9:13, to protect the feet of the king.  Clearly, this was an attempt to connect Jesus with the Davidic kingship.  Was Jesus to be the new king of Israel as a son of David?

The difficulties (Mt 20:22-20:22)

“But Jesus answered.

‘You do not know

What you are asking.

Are you able to drink

The cup

That I am about to drink?’

They said to him.

‘We are able.’”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δυνάμεθα.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 10:38-39, but slightly different.  Jesus answered her by asking (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) if she knew what she was asking (Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε.).  Were her two sons able to drink the cup (δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον) that he was about to drink (ὃ ἐγὼ μέλλω πίνειν)?  They, her sons, responded themselves that they were able to do so (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δυνάμεθα).  The idea of a cup as suffering or the cup of wrath could be found among the major prophets in Isaiah, chapter 51:17, Jeremiah, chapter 25:15, and Ezekiel, chapter 23:31.  There is an addition from the Greek Orthodox text where Jesus asked them if they were ready to be baptized with the baptism that he was going to under go (ἢ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθῆναι)?  Of course, the brothers said that they would be able to do that as well as drink from the suffering cup.