Friday, August 20, 2010

Living Mark

Continuing in 1:14-45. The first things that happen are connected to the daily activities of walking and fishing. The province of Galilee, in contrast to the small confines of Nazareth, will be the setting of much of the story up to chapter 8. This location is where Jesus was to find a more Jewish audience, which would have some link with this proclamation of the KOG.

Seeing Simon and Andrew fishing, Jesus invites them to come along – to follow behind him to become fishers of men and women. Immediately they follow. Two others, sons of Zebedee this time, are called by Jesus and follow him at once. These first disciples will begin to form a core in a group of people through whom aspects of God’s rule will eventually become manifest. The quick rhythm of these occurrences of discipleship may indicate a previous awareness of, or even encounter with Jesus, but the narrator gives us little to go on, in order perhaps, to highlight the persuasive authority of the coming One.

The scene, with Jesus and the disciples, now shifts to Capernaum, Sabbath, and synagogue. Jesus, likely to have been known by synagogue leaders, which most Jewish first century readers would easily assume, is teaching in the synagogue. As Jesus begins to teach, his words astound the people, who acknowledge his authority over that of their typical theological influences. At this very moment, in the normal part of daily life in a synagogue meeting, a man possessed by an unclean evil spirit yells two questions and makes a statement: “What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.”

Opposition is announced here straight off – the unclean spirit assumes that Jesus’ presence means he has a mission of destroying such spirits, and acknowledges what readers, but not yet characters in the story already know: Jesus is the Holy One of God.

In an expression of God’s rule that will manifest itself in the story several times from here on out, Jesus exorcises this unclean spirit with a powerful command that both silences the spirit and brings it under control. Jesus’ order to the spirit is obeyed and the spirit is ripped out of the man with shaking and a scream. It appears, at least from the narrator’s point of view, that Jesus’ aim is to silence the unclean spirit, not destroy it. Again, in response to such a manifestation, the people are astonished. Jesus’ power over unclean-evil spirits is remarkable, and as readers we know that this is a demonstration of who Jesus is in the context of the arriving KOG.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today