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Ink Slingers

Mark’s Questions

I read the gospel of Mark over the weekend, beginning with the historical prologue. I love this information, as the New Testament did not fall intact from heaven, but was hard-fought by Church leaders for hundreds of years. The earliest manuscripts of this book are titled, “According to Mark” and it has been the Church’s uniform tradition that the author was that disciple of Peter’s whom he called his son (I Peter 5:13). Also referred to as John Mark, a combination of his Jewish and Roman names, he traveled with Paul, too (Acts 12:25). It seems that his gospel was written before AD 70. He relates Christ’s prophesy that the temple would be destroyed, which occurred in AD 70, with no mention of it as a past event. Some ancient writers (Irenaeus and Eusebius) hold that Mark wrote soon after Peter’s martyrdom in AD 67 or even earlier, during the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54). Either idea, it is safe to say it was written by AD 70. He wrote for Gentile believers in Rome, often explaining Jewish customs for his readers and translating Aramaic words into Latin or Greek. The climax of his Gospel is the exclamation by a Roman soldier, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (It’s really hard to read that in anything other than a John Wayne accent!).

 

Mark’s Questions

There are dozens of questions peppered throughout this book, asked by every character. I think that Mark wanted his readers to be questioned and challenged and driven toward a reckoning. Here are many of those questions I found and who asked them, in my reading from beginning to end:

What is this? A new teaching?
People in synagogue

Why does this man speak like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?
Scribes

Why do you question like this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk’?
Jesus

Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners? 
Scribes  

Why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath (plucking grain to eat)?
Pharisees

Have you never read what David and his men did when they were hungry?
Jesus

Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or harm; to save life or kill?
Jesus

Who are my mother and brothers?
Jesus

Do you understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?
Jesus

Teacher, do you not care if we perish?
Disciples

Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?
Jesus

Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?
Disciples

What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God?
Unclean spirit in a man

What is your name?
Jesus

Who touched me?
Jesus

Why do you make a tumult and weep?
Jesus

Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?
People from home

What shall I ask?
Herod

Shall we buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give it to them? 
Disciples

How many loaves do you have?
Jesus

Why does this generation seek a sign?
Jesus

Do you not remember?
Jesus

Who do you say I am?
Jesus

What are you discussing?
Jesus

Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?
Jesus

Why could we not cast it out?
Disciples

What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Rich man

Who can be saved?
Disciples

Are you able to drink the chalice that I drink or be baptized with my baptism?
Jesus

What do you want me to do for you?
Jesus

Is it not written, my house shall be a house of prayer for the nations?
Jesus

Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
Pharisees

Which commandment is the first of all?
Scribes

Why was the ointment wasted?
Disciples

Why do you trouble her?
Jesus

Are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?
Jesus

Are you the Christ, the son of the blessed?
Priests and scribes

What evil has he done?
Pilate

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus

Who will roll away the stone for us?
Women

 

Answers

The answers can change a life and begin ripples of goodness. Jesus is God and man. He heals, forgives, eats, gives, speaks, loves. We, His friends and brothers, can listen, believe, give, act, join, and love. Another noteworthy tidbit is that the word “immediately” appears over forty times in the sixteen chapters: the spirit immediately drove him; they immediately left their nets; Jesus immediately left the synagogue. It is a new year; let us consider these questions and our answers immediately.

Categories
Bible Easter Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Michelle Spiritual Growth

Who is Jesus?

st. markAt the beginning of Lent our pastor gave everyone in our parish some homework to do. He asked us to read the Gospel of Mark. He wanted us to first just read through the entire gospel once and then to go back and read it a second time with a particular purpose in mind. He wanted us to ask ourselves, “Who is Jesus?” He wanted us to find a new understanding of our Lord and he hoped we could do so through prayerful reading of Mark’s gospel account.

I sat in the pew with a smile on my face. Ah! This was going to be easy! First, I loved to read. Picking up my bible wouldn’t be hard. I loved to immerse myself in the Word. Second, as a well catechized Catholic I already knew who Jesus was. It wasn’t going to be hard to discover His identity. Third, well, I like homework and so being assigned a little homework didn’t seem like “work” to me.  I couldn’t wait to get home to start.

When I started on my homework I was a little surprised. I first thumbed through Mark’s Gospel. I had read it here and there but never from beginning to end with just the purpose of reading it all. I found that it was short. In fact, with only 16 chapters, it was the shortest Gospel out of the four.  I started reading. Most of the readings I had read many times before at one point or another. I was very familiar with the scriptures. I read through them quickly. The words echoed in my thoughts in the days after finishing my first read-through.

I was happy that I had one part of my homework done! It seemed even more important to me as I felt like I was failing in all the other ways I meant to do better throughout Lent. I was determined to at least finish out this part of my Lenten journey.

I started reading the Gospel with a new focus. I wanted to know Jesus in a different way. I wanted to be able to answer the question “Who is Jesus?”

Jesus

As I started reading the scriptures again, I took out a yellow pad of paper. On it I wrote who I thought Jesus was- healer, teacher, leader, Son of God, Savior, and many more descriptions. I decided I was going to write down the verses that went along with my “classification”. Son of God- yep! Verses 1:11 and 9:7 both told me that this was God’s own Son. Was He a leader? Of course! In verses 3:13-19 He decides on His twelve apostles- the men He will teach and lead and who will carry on His mission after He is gone. Was He a healer? There were so many verses that showed how He healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and cast out demons. Yes! If there ever was a healer, Jesus was Him!

My list went on and on. I wrote down verse numbers to correspond to categories I had place Jesus in. Evangelist- 1:38 and 2:17, All-knowing- 2:8, Miracle worker- 5:39-42 and 6:34-44. My list was growing and yet I didn’t feel like I knew Jesus in any different way than I knew Him before. I already knew He was a teacher, leader, miracle worker, and evangelist. What was I missing?

I prayed to the Holy Spirit to show me what I needed to see. Who is Jesus?

widowMy thoughts kept coming back to the story of the Widow’s Mite. Jesus told His disciples, “I want you to observe that this poor widow contributed more than all the others who donated to the treasury. They gave from their surplus wealth, but she gave from her want, all that she had to live on.” Why would this story keep coming back to me? Suddenly I realized why it seemed so important. This one story summed up Jesus and who He was.

Christ gave everything for us. It wasn’t His surplus that He offered; it was everything He had. He gave His leadership, His knowledge, His healing, His compassion, His mercy, His friendship, His forgiveness, His love, and ultimately He gave His life. And like the widow, He did so humbly and selflessly.

I finally could see Jesus in a different light. Yes, I still see Him as a King, the Son of God, teacher, leader, friend, healer, miracle worker, the enemy of Satan, a revolutionary, and my Savior; but now I see Him as the poor widow as well.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He is my teacher and my friend. He is my confidant and my advisor. He is my rock. He is my world. I see Him in the most unlikely places and in the most unlikely people. He is the widow, the leper, the blind, the paralytic, and the possessed. He is mercy, compassion, forgiveness, healing, and love.

Who is Jesus? He is everything.