Sundays on Mark (6)

Continuing simple Sunday reflections on the Gospel of Mark. This week Mark 3:13-30

The introduction of the 12 does not explicitly say this, but the number has obvious significance for the Jewish mind. Is Jesus symbolising the formation of a renewed Israel in the form of a community of his followers? The description ‘be with him’ is an enduring and powerful description of a disciple. But being with Jesus leads to being ‘sent out’ [a summary of what mission is] to witness to the arrival of the kingdom of God in Jesus, legitimated by spiritual authority over opposing spiritual forces.

The brute fact of such authority forces an interpretation from Jesus’ opponents. Their conclusion? Since he can’t be from God, he must be from the devil. Againt the contrast with this response is stark compared to the ‘messianic mania’ of the crowds almost overwhelming the disciples. Jesus is creating a huge stir – to such a degree that things appear, to his family, to be getting out of control. They also interpret events negatively – since he can’t be the Messiah, Jesus must be ‘out of his mind’. How Jesus reacted to this we are not told.

One point stands out to me :- the affirmation of divine love and sonship and at his baptism, and empowering by the Spirit, leads straight into familial rejection and misunderstanding, as well as direct hostility from the Jerusalem teachers of the law who even interpret the work of the Spirit as a work of the devil [this is the sin against the Holy Spirit]. Why such misunderstanding and opposition? Certainly part of the answer is mounting religious and spiritual conflict. Another is how God’s Messiah shatters expectations. God can’t work this way. ‘Sure he’s James’ brother and Mary & Joseph’s son’ – this Galilean peasant is just too normal and nondescript to fit the exalted and glorious role of Messiah, Israel’s liberator.

PRAYER: God of surprises and ruler of an upside down kingdom that confounds the values and beliefs of the world, we rejoice that you advance your kingdom not through violence or political power, but through an obscure Palestinian villager whose true glory was veiled. We offer humble thanks and worship to him who endured rejection, opposition, hatred, misunderstanding and ultimately death on our behalf and in our place. Amen

The Appointing of the Twelve Apostles

13Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15and to have authority to drive out demons. 16These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus and Beelzebub

20Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”22And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house. 28I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. 29But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

30He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”

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