Home > Miscellaneous > A Few Abbreviated Thoughts on Mark 7

A Few Abbreviated Thoughts on Mark 7

Well, I was sick on Monday. Which means I didn’t go to work. Work is my way of keeping track of the week. Which means I’ve been one day behind all week. Which means Bible Study isn’t tonight, it was last night. Which means I missed it. Which means I didn’t get to hear and speak about Mark 7. Good thing I have another outlet.

  1. As a general rule, Jesus in Mark avoids answering questions directly. Not because he is an avoider, but because often there is something that the question is hiding that is far more important than the answer to the question. Jesus’ answer when the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples didn’t follow the traditions of the elders but ate with defiled hands was quite layered.

    First, Jesus pointed out that the very question they were asking was revelatory of their own sin. It was precisely their focus on following all of the silly traditions of the elders that was causing them to disobey God. Their focus on being obedient to the traditions of the elders brought their hearts far from God, their life-focus was less on Him and more on tradition. In the process of explaining this, Jesus answers their explicit question. The disciples don’t hold to the traditions of the elders by washing their hands because it is not a commandment of God, merely something of man.

  2. Then Jesus addresses everyone and voids the premise of the Pharisees question. Why do the disciples eat with defiled hands, they ask? Their hands are not defiled, Jesus answers. Jesus’ general statement involves food and meals, but is about far more than food and meals. It is not what goes into a man, but what comes out of him. Jesus was an example to the extreme of this with people. He laid hands on the lepers, he was in close contact with the demonized, he talked intimately with prostitutes, he defended adulterers, he attended drunken parties, he ate with cheating tax collectors, and he treated non-Jews as members of God’s kingdom. Jesus was exposed to a lot. A lot of evil, in a sense, went into him. But darkness does not compete with light. Darkness that enters Jesus comes out light. So should it be with us. How can I use this idea to minister to those more rejected, reviled, outcasted, and marginalized than many I spend time with?
  3. Jesus with the Syrophoenician woman I think is best read as a negative object lesson. I think that Jesus is embodying the standard attitude toward Gentiles by Jews in an extreme way. He isn’t doing what seems to be more typical in Scripture, a sort of passive aggressive unspoken pushing away of Gentiles and treating them as less because they are outside the kingdom. What Jesus is doing is taking the idea of Jewish superiority and special significance over and above other people and demonstrating it in an explicit and disconcerting manner. This poor woman is begging Jesus for her daughter. It’s not even for herself. And it is not like her daughter is just sick or something, she is hindered by pure evil. This poor little girl has a demon tormenting her. And this woman believes in him enough to fall at his feet and beg. Then Jesus calls them dogs compared to the Jewish children. Fascinating because there is a child that needs help. The woman displays her incredible faith and Jesus rids her child of the demon. I believe this functions in two positive ways. One, I think that Jesus’ words to this woman, given her situation, would be disturbing to the disciples who were watching this. I think that they would be a little disgusted with Jesus and confused by his harsh words and refusal to help. I don’t think they would like what Jesus would doing. This visible enactment of the hearts of many Jews functions to reveal the evil of their superiority complex. Two, it makes the woman look humble and awesome. Her love for her child is on full display. Her trust in Jesus, his capacity and love, despite his words to the contrary, shows a great faith and perseverance. In this brief anecdote, the woman is the most likeable character. I think Jesus is teaching here and not just being an asshole.
  4. I wonder why Mark includes stories like healing of the deaf and mute man. I understand that they are really cool and its great to hear about specific stories of individuals that Jesus healed, but my bet is that Mark has more literarily significant reasons for including specific stories. Mark has no problem frequently saying simply that Jesus healed a lot of people from all over and it was great. And brevity seems something Mark has a partiality toward. So of all the people Jesus healed, why does Mark choose to set this story apart by getting into specifics? I don’t have any great answers, but these are the types of questions that can lead to fresh insight and understanding.
  5. One surmising is that it is yet another case where Jesus charged the man not to speak about what Jesus did for him, but Jesus opened the man’s lips and the man used them to talk about Jesus. And, “the more he charged him, the more zealously they proclaimed it.” It’s this running theme in Mark. People can’t stop talking about Jesus. Jesus can’t even keep people from talking about all that he has done for them and how powerful he is. This idea, and variations of it, are a consistent recurrence. One variation is found in the previous passage, where Jesus goes to a home where he didn’t want anyone to know he was, “but he could not be hidden.” The Syrophoenician woman came to him as soon as he got there, in faith seeking his help. This also happens to Jesus often, where so frequently he tries to get away to be alone, stays outside the city, goes to the other side of the lake, etc, and people seek him and find him anyway. Jesus can’t get people to stop talking about him. He can’t get people to stay away from him. I would really like to see these concepts, as well as others in Mark, interpreted and drawn out as they relate to evangelism and the preaching of the good news of the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven through Jesus Christ. The book is replete with these ideas.


Categories: Miscellaneous
  1. Joel Morgan
    July 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks, Jeremiah. I missed Legends as well.

    In regards to evangelism, I definitely don’t more zealously proclaim the good news of Jesus. Attitude adjustment? Yes, please.

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