Archive for Mark

Mark 15:33-39

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Haggling with Jesus

7:24 From there he arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. He entered into a house, and didn’t want anyone to know it, but he couldn’t escape notice. 7:25 For a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came and fell down at his feet. 7:26 Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. She begged him that he would cast the demon out of her daughter. 7:27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not appropriate to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

7:28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord. Yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

7:29 He said to her, “For this saying, go your way. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”

7:30 She went away to her house, and found the child having been laid on the bed, with the demon gone out.


Like Abraham arguing with the angels over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. This story is more impressive though: the woman appears to convince Jesus to change his mind. Perhaps this is the moment when the good news was first spread beyond the Jews.

The story is told again in Matthew 15:21-28. In Matthew the woman is a Canaanite. I think Matthew is more tailored for a Jewish audience (e.g., parallels with Moses). The Jews hated the Canaanites.

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Mark 1:22

The people were amazed at his teaching, for, unlike the scribes, he taught with a note of authority.


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Mark 9:38-40

9:38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.”

9:39 But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. 9:40 For whoever is not against us is on our side.


Is this the basis of the broad church? I note that 9:40 does not say, “Who ever is not with us is against us”, but the opposite: “Who ever is not against us is with us.”

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Mark 4:22-23

4:22 For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. 4:23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.


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Mark 2:23-28

2:23 It happened that he was going on the Sabbath day through the grain fields, and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of grain. 2:24 The Pharisees said to him, “Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the Sabbath day?”

2:25 He said to them, “Did you never read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry—he, and those who were with him? 2:26 How he entered into God’s house when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the show bread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?

2:27 He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 2:28 Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”


Out of order? No, reading Luke 6:1-5 I thought I’d noted this already but I hadn’t. I prefer the Mark. In particular, Luke omits Mark 2:27.

So, a question for Bible scholars: the action of David’s referred to in 2:25-6 — is it in the OT, and if so, where is it?

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Matthew 3:7-12

Matthew 3:11

I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit (some version add: and with fire).

Luke 3:16:

John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.

(World English Bible)

Matthew and Luke add fire and a bit of Wrath of God to the cooler John the Baptist in Mark. Personally, I don’t think the Matthew & Luke versions add anything. The point is surely to be baptised in the Holy Spirit; the rest is just decoration.

Mark might not be a “passionate” read, but I like the cool simplicity and directness of the message.

For trainspotters: at all Greek texts for the Luke include the “and fire” (“και πυρι”), and for the Matthew all but one has it, the “Greek NT: Byzantine / Majority Text (2000).” So the Majority Text is in the minority. I found some explanation of what the Majority Text is here (I didn’t read it all because I am not a trainspotter ;).

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Mark summary

Yay! I made it to the end of Mark!

Mark’s gospel is very matter-of-fact and plain, cool almost. When I read it first, after Matthew, I thought, “What is the point of going over all this again?” I think only Mark 1:4, where Mark gives an explanatory comment about baptism, stood out to me.

Now I know that Mark was written first, and Matthew and Luke drew strongly upon it for their own gospels, Mark becomes much more interesting, partly for what is not there (in class for example we’ve been looking at stories of Pilate, Judas and others develop across the four gospels). Mark’s message is simpler and sometimes maybe stronger, certainly for my current reading of Jesus as perfection of the human.

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Mark 14:32-6, 15:34


14:32 They came to a place which was named Gethsemane. He said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.” 14:33 He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be greatly troubled and distressed. 14:34 He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch.”

14:35 He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him. 14:36 He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Please remove this cup from me. However, not what I desire, but what you desire.”


15:33 When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 15:34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

(World English Bible)

n.b.: 15:34 is quoting the opening of Psalm 22.

These two examples of Jesus praying are very different from the textbook example of “how to pray” given in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4).

Here Jesus seems to be showing very human feelings of weakness and despair, and opening himself up to God for strength and guidance.

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Mark 14:3-9

14:3 While he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard—very costly. She broke the jar, and poured it over his head. 14:4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, saying, “Why has this ointment been wasted? 14:5 For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” They grumbled against her.

14:6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me. 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. 14:8 She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying. 14:9 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News may be preached throughout the whole world, that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

(World English Bible)

A few points to get out of the way:

  • The version of this story in John (12:1-9) is very different. In fact, he makes it into a non-story. I assume he does this to focus on Judas. I don’t want to talk about Judas or John yet (I’ll talk about Judas when I do Matthew 26:50).
  • We recently looked at this story in class, where we focussed on the transgressive behaviour of the woman: women were not allowed at the table when visitors were present; the host should wash the guests feet, not his head; the fact that this story opens the passion, and it is a woman who anoints Jesus.

I like this little story and I can’t help giving it a naive reading: there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the finer things in life (especially perfume).

Discussing the story with my son, he offered a better reading: worshipping Jesus is more important than helping the poor.

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