The gospel of Mark contains some weird parts. For example, there’s that guy in a sheet shadowing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane who escapes naked when the chief priests’ hired muscle try to seize him. And we didn’t even get to talk about the dudes that Jesus heals with his spit, two more Mark exclusives. (The blind guy initially remarks, in so many words, “Whoa, everyone looks like walking trees!”) Then there are the parts that other gospels include but Mark omits, like Jesus’ birth, and in fact any mention of Joseph. That’s right: in Mark, Jesus’ dad is completely absent! Mark doesn’t consider him important at all! But perhaps the weirdest part of Mark is its ending.
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 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!
Do you remember that scene in The Prince of Egypt where Moses kills an Egyptian and flees to the wilderness? He goes to stop one of the taskmasters from beating a Hebrew slave, but accidentally sends the taskmaster plummeting off a scaffolding and kills him. Everyone sees the event, and Moses runs away into the desert. It’s a dramatic scene, but as it does elsewhere, the movie takes some liberties with the text it’s interpreting. It differs starkly from both the original account in Exodus and Stephen’s interpretation of it in his speech before the Council in Jerusalem.
Having finished Matthew, it’s time to do something I should have done as soon as I finished Luke: start reading Acts. The second of Luke’s two books in the Bible, Acts picks up where Luke’s gospel left off, detailing the development of the early church. And by the time it occurred to me to go from Luke to Acts, I was already in the middle of Matthew. Hindsight is 20/20, better late than never, and other overused adages. It’s Acts time.
So every fifth week or so, the Triad study eschews the “passage of the week” format. Instead, it allows time for the Triad to reflect on the unit they’ve just completed, review the passages from the unit, and do a practical application activity together for their weekly meeting. Here on Chocolate Book during these interludes, I suppose I could revisit previous material, but in the interests of keeping things fresh, I want to introduce a new study: God’s Little Deconstruction Book.
I’m having trouble starting the day’s post again. I’m sitting here at the keyboard, Bible to the left of me opened to Zechariah 10, as I type and delete half-finished introductions. I’ve got a number of hurdles between me and a completed post, but the most salient one is a question confronting me: should I open up the Theodicy Can again?
When you’re a prophet of the Lord, the word of the Lord comes to you. It’s what you do. Well, it’s not so much what you do as what happens to you. But then you go to the people and tell them the word of the Lord. Unless you’re Jonah, in which case you have to get caught in a storm at sea and swallowed by a fish before you’ll get up and do your job. But Haggai isn’t Jonah.
God is not a man that He should change His mind, but we’re not God. I’ve read through the Bible more than once, and each time I come around to a passage, I’ve grown as a person, I’ve learned new things, I’ve come to a different place that gives me a new perspective on it. If you’ve been reading the Bible for awhile, you’ve likely had the same experience. And sometimes God shows us we’ve been wrong about something. Our views change, we reject old opinions, and hopefully our new opinions jibe more consistently with the text and the universe as they are. Here on Chocolate Book, we approach the Bible heuristically.