10:30 a.m. Charles Fillmore Chapel
September 2: Bishop Janet Sunderland
September 9: Bishop Cliff Kroski
September 16: Bishop Janet Sunderland
September 23: Bishop Cliff Kroski
September 30: Bishop Janet Sunderland
We move into September and we switch Gospel writers. All of August we heard from John, now we hear from Mark.
Mark’s gospel is the earliest of the Synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke). Scholars believe it was written by a man named John Mark around 69 AD., who may have been Peter’s interpreter. He also followed Paul and Barnabas. He did not know Jesus personally. Mark portrays Jesus as a limited human being, a divine-like Son of God, the Son of Man and a mystery to his followers. Mark also explains Jewish laws and customs, so his primary audience was Gentile. Since the gospel was written one year before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD, Mark’s theme is that the end of the world would occur shortly, after the temple’s fall, and that the glory of Jesus would be shown on the last day. Until that time, the followers of Jesus would experience suffering and death.
The gospel of the first Sunday of September has the followers of Jesus being criticized for eating meals without washing their hands. This was part of the cleanliness ritual that was so important for the Jews. Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders for their criticism. Jesus tells them that “nothing that enters one from the outside can defile that person.” It is rather what is inside the person that defiles. Evil comes from within.
Jesus was placing the spirit of the law above the letter of the law. He was saying that if a person puts ritual actions above what is in the heart, they are missing the point of what is truly important.
The second Sunday of the month has the healing of a deaf man. Jesus opens the man’s ears and loosens the man’s tongue. After the healing, Jesus tells those who observed his actions to remain silent. This is part of the “Jesus as mystery” that is found in Mark. It is called the “Messianic Secret.”
The gospel of the third Sunday of the month has Jesus asking his followers, “Who do people say I am.” Peter replies, “You are the Christ.” Jesus again tells his disciples to tell no one. He tells his disciples that he is to suffer and die and that his followers will be required to do the same. Peter changes quickly from one who is praised to one who is rebuked when he disagrees with Jesus. Jesus calls Peter “Satan,” that is, a tempter, who is thinking not like God thinks, but as humans think.
The next Sunday’s gospel has Jesus once again telling his followers of his fate. “The Son of Man [Mark’s theme] is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, but after three days the Son of Man will rise.” Of course the disciples cannot understand these words, and they remain silent. When the disciples start to argue about which of them is greatest, Jesus talks about service, and “the last shall be first and the first, last.” He then tells the disciples that “whomever receives one child in my name, receives me and receives the One who sent me.”
The last Sunday of the month has the disciples telling Jesus about a person who is driving out demons in Jesus’s name. They tried to prevent the man’s actions. Jesus basically tells his followers, that, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Jesus then says that if his followers cause anyone who believes in him to sin, they would be better off being cast into the sea, and that whatever body part causes one to sin, that part should be “cut off.”
Mark’s gospel gives us much to ponder.
+ Cliff and + Janet