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Posted by Comments:
Rick in Canada, eh?
December 5, 2017
Ok, I'll start.

Initial observation is that Mark gives us the
punch line of his story right at the start. He
tells us, in very clear language, who Jesus is.

This sets up his story in very concrete terms,
because as we read it, we see the disciples
*constantly* not getting it. Blind people see it,
deaf people hear it, lame people run to it, but
the disciples, who are living with it, don't.

Another observation (the dangerous one!).

Mark calls Jesus the "Son of God." We
have 2,000 years of metaphysical explanations for
this title, so that's how we hear it. We assume
Mark is using early Trinitarian theology, and
making statements about the "being" of

He's not, and we are wrong to think this.

If one were to walk around the Roman Empire 2,000
years ago, one would hear phrases like "Son
of God" and "Saviour of the
Nations" and "King of Kings," and
"Lord of Lords" all over the place. They
were inscribed on monuments, and used in common
discussions and speeches.

But here's the thing - *they were referring to
Caesar.* They were all political titles, designed
to remind people who was really in charge. They
were political/religious phrases, demanding
ultimate loyalty to the Empire and it's ruler. The
message was, you can worship whatever gods you
like, as long as your final loyalty is to Caesar.

And then this up-start bunch of losers comes
along, and claims these titles for their loser of
a leader, who was CRUCIFIED (a sentence saved for
slaves and traitors to the established order
(hint, hint)), and who they claim was raised from
that death (which is impossible, because we all
know that crucifixion annihilates the soul of the
one killed that way, so there was no one and
nothing to BE raised).

Saying that *Jesus* was/is the Son of God is not a
metaphysical description of Jesus. It was (and
is!) a political statement, stolen from the
originators of that title (Rome) and applied to
someone who was the exact opposite of Rome in
every way.

This adds a rather interesting layer to the point
made about about the disciples not getting the
identity of Jesus.

Which, of course, begs the question, Do WE
"get" Jesus?

Your turn.

Posted by Comments:
rev smith, Lacey IA
December 5, 2017
You have given me much to think about.
Who was Marks primary audience?
Many of the new followers of "the way"
would have been from outside the Hebrew faith
while a goodly number would have been either Jews
or converts to Judaism. The titles given would
have been seen in different ways including titles
for Caesar, as well as prophetic titles for the
Jewish Messiah.
Still to equate Jesus as the one who is all of
those flies in the face of both the Roman empire
and Judaism. The one who didn't fit the mold
either group used as the basis for determining who
was the one really in charge.

And here we are today still struggling with who
Jesus is and how do we relate to his authority.

Maybe we are not all that more informed/educated
than his first disciples.

Posted by Comments:
Rick again
December 6, 2017
Hi Rev S.

Thanks for thinking! :-)

I did consider mentioning the Jewish perspective
on Messiah, but I chose not to, simply because
Mark seems to be written for a non-Jewish
audience. It also seem pretty clear that Mark is
an outsider to the Jewish tradition, which colours
the way he tells his story.

Absolutely, this aspect is part of the background;
and much of the early church membership was made
up of folks who *had* come from the Jewish
tradition. However, I am too aware of how often
the church has spoken for the Jews, as if we
"get" what they have been, and are,

I feel more comfortable speaking from a Gentile
perspective, and also from a Roman perspective,
since Rome set the standard for western European
peoples, nations, states and kingdoms. Indeed,
even we in North America are still making
assumptions about nationhood because of Rome's
influence. In a very real way, we still think of
ourselves as Rome; or, if not that specifically,
we make assumptions which many Romans would find
awfully familiar.

Which is why I think it's important to be aware of
Rome's influence on the early church, and how Mark
would have been addressing that influence.

Thanks. Peace...

Posted by Comments:
December 8, 2017
Hmmmm. Seems there are a lot of John the Baptists
around who are constantly judging others but not
enough Jesuses caring for the poor, sick, outcast,

Posted by Comments:
December 8, 2017
John the Baptizer is calling us to repentance in
order to let Jesus Christ be born anew in us
today. Any specific ideas or stories about what
we need to repent of today?

Posted by Comments:
Rick again
December 8, 2017

I am attempting to critique my own tradition.
There is much to be repented of in it.

If there is something judgemental or condemnatory
in my comments, please be specific. General
comments which hint at issues without identifying
them don't really help.


Posted by Comments:
December 9, 2017
Rick -- My comment had NOTHING to do with what you
said! I don't know if I even read your comments.
My observation came out of consideration of our
fragmented, judgmental time and the difference
between John and Jesus.

Posted by Comments:
Rick again
December 9, 2017

I'll put my paranoia away now....

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
December 9, 2017

Thanks for the perspective you bring, Rick and

The opening statement of Mark's gospels holds true
even today: "The beginning of the good news
of Jesus Christ..." We have just begun to
understand and appropriate this news, I think.
That is why every perspective brought to this text
is important. We haven't got it all figured out,
and never will.

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
December 9, 2017
Friends, again

The reason for this statement (the beginning of
the good news is still true today) is that we all
know that selfishness, sin, hate and darkness is
still going on in the world. Until such time as
the (all) poor receive good news, no more
Lazarases waiting for scraps to fall from the rich
man's table, and there is world peace,,,etc. The
complete story of the Good news of Jesus Christ is
a long way off in this world. It is just
beginning, and hopefully is begins with us!

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Frank Schaefer for, 2005

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