The fig tree (Mk 11:13-11:13)

“Seeing

In the distance,

A fig tree in leaf,

Jesus went to see

Whether perhaps

He could find

Anything on it.

When he came to it,

He found nothing

But leaves.

It was not the season

For figs.”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔχουσαν φύλλα ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ, καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν οὐδὲν εὗρεν εἰ μὴ φύλλα· ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων.

 

This story about Jesus seeing the fig tree can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:19.  Luke, chapter 13:6-9, also has a parable about a fig tree that would not bear fruit.  The stories in Matthew and Mark are slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus saw a fig tree from a distance (καὶ ἰδὼν συκῆν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), not by the side of the road, as in Matthew.  This fig tree had leafy branches (ἔχουσαν φύλλα).  Jesus went to see if he could find any fruit on it (ἦλθεν εἰ ἄρα τι εὑρήσει ἐν αὐτῇ).  When he came over to the tree (καὶ ἐλθὼν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν), he found no fruit (οὐδὲν εὗρεν), only leaves (εἰ μὴ φύλλα), the same as Matthew had indicated.  However, here Mark pointed out that it was not the season for figs (ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς οὐκ ἦν σύκων).

 

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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.

The man with the unclean spirit worships Jesus (Mk 5:6-5:7)

“When this demoniac

Saw Jesus

From a distance,

He ran

And bowed down

Before him.

He shouted

At the top of his voice.

‘What have you to do

With me?

Jesus!

Son of the Most High God!

I adjure you

By God!

Do not torment me!’”

 

καὶ ἰδὼν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔδραμεν καὶ προσεκύνησεν αὐτόν,

καὶ κράξας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ λέγει Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ Ὑψίστου; ὁρκίζω σε τὸν Θεόν, μή με βασανίσῃς.

 

All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 8:29 and Luke, chapter 8;28, and Mark here, have this demoniac speak to Jesus in somewhat similar words.  Matthew had 2 demoniacs, but Mark and Luke had only one and are closer to each other in this incident.  Mark said that when this demoniac saw Jesus from a distance (καὶ ἰδὼν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), he bowed down before him and worshipped him (καὶ προσεκύνησεν αὐτόν).  He cried or shouted out with a loud voice (καὶ κράξας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ).  He wanted to know why Jesus had anything to do with him (λέγει Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί).  Then he called Jesus, the Son of God the Most High (Ἰησοῦ Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ Ὑψίστου).  He asked, swearing by God, that Jesus not torment them (ὁρκίζω σε τὸν Θεόν, μή με βασανίσῃς).  All three gospel writers have the demonic person or persons recognize that Jesus was the Son of God, not just another faith healer.  Thus, the evil spirits were able to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, as earlier in Mark, chapter 1:23 and 3:11.

The women from Galilee (Mt 27:55-27:55)

“Many women

Were also there.

They were looking on

From a distance.

They had followed Jesus

From Galilee.

They had served him.”

 

Ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ γυναῖκες πολλαὶ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν θεωροῦσαι, αἵτινες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας διακονοῦσαι αὐτῷ·

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 15:40, but there was no mention of Galilee there.  However, in Luke, chapter 23:49, there is a specific mention of the women from Galilee.  In John, chapter 19:25-27, there was a mention of the mother of Jesus, and a conversation, but no mention of Galilee.  Matthew said many women were also there (Ἦσαν δὲ ἐκεῖ γυναῖκες πολλαὶ).  They were looking on from a distance (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν θεωροῦσαι), which would have been their normal role.  They had followed Jesus from Galilee (αἵτινες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας), as they provided, ministered, or served Jesus (διακονοῦσαι αὐτῷ).  These may have been the first deaconess of the Christian era.  However, they were from Galilee and not women from Jerusalem.

 

Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest (Mt 26:58-26:58)

“But Peter

Was following Jesus

At a distance.

He went

As far as the courtyard

Of the high priest.

Going inside,

He sat

With the guards

In order to see

How this would end.”

 

ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:54, and Luke, chapter 22:54-55, but Peter was there to warm himself and not see what was happening.  In John, chapter 18:15-16, Peter was with another disciple, who helped him to get into the courtyard.  Here Matthew said that Peter had followed Jesus (ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ), but at a distance (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν).  Peter even went as far as the courtyard of the high priest (ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως).  Then he went inside the courtyard (καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω) and sat with the guards or servants (ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν) of the high priest in order to see what was going to happen in the end (ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος), since he was curious to see what was going to happen to Jesus.  Yet at the same time, he was careless in entering the courtyard with the servants and guards of the high priest.  This could be trouble for Peter.

The non-writing Jesus

Jesus did not write anything because he lived in a predominant oral society.  The apostles of Jesus followed suit and transmitted the living oral tradition to their disciples and the new followers of Jesus the Christ.  The apostles did not need to write anything, since they could explain everything.  However, once Christianity moved out of Jerusalem there was a need to write things down in a more permanent form.  The early Pauline letters to the new Christian Churches show how Christianity spread.  Increasing time and distance from the place of Jerusalem and the time of Jesus led to a decision to write things down.  In order to prevent heresy or diverse views, while at the same time encouraging the early Christians, the need for a written record became evident.

The everlasting love of God (Jer 31:2-31:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘The people who survived

The sword

Found grace

In the wilderness.

When Israel sought rest,

Yahweh appeared

To them

From far away.

I have loved you

With an everlasting love.

Therefore I have continued

My faithfulness to you.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, reminded the Israelites of his everlasting love for them. Those who had survived the sword found grace or favor in the wilderness. When Israel was looking for a resting place, Yahweh appeared to them, but from a distance. Yahweh has loved them with an everlasting love. He has continued to be faithful to them, no matter what.