I’m having a bad post day today, so let’s scrap what I’ve written and start over. This is Mark’s take on the Olivet Discourse, Jesus’ private teaching to his disciples when one of them remarks on how dope the temple architecture is. In this passage, Jesus looks ahead prophetically to the AD 70 destruction of the Jerusalem temple, tells his disciples what to expect in their own future, and–depending on to what degree you embrace preterism–perhaps gives us a look into the end times as well.
In today’s chapter, Jesus talks about agriculture from a boat.
Mark hits the ground running. Unlike Matthew and Luke, he doesn’t concern himself at all with Jesus’ birth or childhood. He jumps right into John the Baptist’s ministry as Jesus’ forerunner, and before the reader has a chance to draw a breath, Jesus has gotten baptized, been tempted in the desert, called his first four disciples, and cast out a demon.
The adventure continues in today’s chapter, at least until it ends. And since early childhood, I’ve associated the book of Acts with Paul’s snakebite from this chapter. I remember a Sunday school handout telling the story of the storm, shipwreck, and island encounter through text and illustrations. In a simple but realistic style, one of the drawings depicted Paul withdrawing from the campfire with a writhing snake clinging to his hand. It was exciting and a little bit scary, and it locked the idea into my head that sometimes missionaries have adventures. It was like the book of Acts itself had latched onto my brain with serpent teeth.
There’s an MC Frontalot/Baddd Spellah collaboration track titled “The Rhyme of the Nibelung,” translating Wagner’s opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung into hip-hop, as viewed through the eyes of an opera-illiterate spectator. Frontalot grouses confusedly through most of the opera, wondering who characters are, why they do what they do, and why there aren’t any hobbits, but finally gets into the action-packed finale. He exclaims: “I might even have to come back; wonder if they sell a ticket for just the third act?” And in some respects, over the years I’ve come to view the book of Acts in a similar way, because it’s twenty-seven chapters in before we get to seafaring adventures, storms, and shipwrecks.
The last time Paul attempted to present his testimony, a hostile crowd cut him off, calling for his life before he could finish. But today he gets a fresh opportunity, as King Herod Agrippa II allows him to make his defense. But while this is Agrippa’s first time hearing the story, it’s not ours. Paul’s testimony summarizes the same events that Luke has reported so far, the same events we’ve read. However, it differs from Luke’s own account!
Hey, everyone. Just to pull back the curtain for a moment, it’s Saturday as I write this, and I’m at my grandmother’s in Virginia for Mother’s Day. And now, to replace the curtain: in today’s chapter, Paul’s Jewish opponents pursue their spurious case against him. But even under a new governor, Paul proves himself a match for their machinations with an appeal to Caesar himself.