Monday, February 19, 2018

Mark Mark's words

I was struck, preparing for yesterday's sermon on Mark 1:9-15, by how pithily Mark signals a lot of theology in a few words, when writing about the temptation of Jesus.

"12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him."

Wilderness conjures up Israel in the wilderness as well as Elijah in the wilderness: a place of testing. But "forty" takes us specifically to Israel in the wilderness. The next word, "tempted" recalls Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and "tempted by Satan" reminds us of the tempting of Job, especially the first chapters of Job when Satan seeks God's permission to tempt Job.

In these few words (I suggested in my sermon) Mark, whose gospel is a gospel of restoration (healings, deliverances, feedings), tells us that Jesus comes to put things right for broken down humanity.

Jesus in his own person is reliving the history of us by reliving the story of Adam and Eve being tempted, but this time not falling for the temptation. And, Jesus relives Israel's story of of being tested in the wilderness and passes the test. That is, Jesus in his own person begins the restoration of humanity by showing that the story of human life can be different. The new Adam obeys God and resists Satan. The new Israel demonstrates understanding of the identity and mission God gives to Israel, to bear witness to the one true and life-giving God.

Jesus is also like Job: he has utter faith in God, that God will see him through life, no matter what suffering comes his way.

A further sign of restoration of humanity being the critical theme of these verses is the mention of the "wild beasts". Wild beasts normally eat humans and that did not happen here. That phrase, "wild beasts" thus recalls for us prophetic visions of restoration, when the lion lays down with the lamb.

Thus, when in the next verses we find Jesus proclaiming that the time has come and the kingdom is near, the message is effectively that humanity is about to be restored. The challenge of the passage is for us to also be in the business, within family, community and wider world, of contributing to the restoration of humanity to what God intended us to be.


Father Ron said...

" The new Adam obeys God and resists Satan. The new Israel demonstrates understanding of the identity and mission God gives to Israel, to bear witness to the one true and life-giving God." - Dr Peter Carrell -

Nice piece of traditional (Biblically authorised) male-oriented thinking here, Peter. But what about Eve? Does Jesus (the new Adam) not also represent the new Eve - whose original figure was blamed in the Bible for Adam's transgression.

I'm just reading an excellent book about R.C. Sister Joan Chichester, and her carefully thought theology about the inclusive ministry of Jesus towards both women and men. She was criticised by the Vatican for her insistence that patristic theology has been mainly responsible for a defective anthropology which sees the male as the source of all good and the female as being little more than the receptacle for the seed of the male.

This is still the main reason R.C.s won't have a bar of women's ordination.

My real question here is whether we should still be regarding Jesus as only representing the maleness of our common humanity?

Glen Young said...

Hi Ron,

No I don't regard Jesus as only representing the maleness of our common humanity. He was "FULLY GOD and became FULLY HUMAN". The contradictory reasoning I can not fathom out in your blogs; is your stance towards Mary, the mother of Jesus and your statements that homosexual can not have a God ORDAINED relationship with the very help meet that God gave to Adam.

Adam was created in the image and likeness of God.He did not have to follow Eve in wanting to eat of the forbidden fruit; and when he did,he blamed that woman you gave me. As the new creation,Jesus did not "fall" to the temptations of satin. So in Short,as St. John writes:" WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall have Eternal Life.

Quite simply Ron,can't you keep your gender polarization out of any discussion????? Where-ever there is Love,there is God.

Peter Carrell said...

No more gender etc comments on this post.

Jean said...

Thanks for that commentary Peter it holds a lot of depth of meaning and I appreciate the way you have linked Jesus’s experience with the former ‘human failings’, “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous....”... I am finding going through Mark quite thought provoking around healing and restoration. Both topics fuel my passion.

Jesus being the source of restoration and healing, it is I guess finding the courage to tell people this or more authentically to first know or experience it for ourselves and witness to it in through our own lives and testimony. The challenge in between is believing ourselves that He is and He can.

Father Ron Smith said...

" “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous....”..

Thanks, Jean, for your reiteration of the aspect of Saint Mark's Gospel.

It provides us fallible human beings with the Truth - that it was Jesus' OBEDIENCE to the will of God, that he should take upon himself the sins of the world, that has actually MADE MANY RIGHTEOUS - not their own understanding of their own righteousness (or need of it). This is a very hard saying for those who condemn unrighteousness in others. This is what Redemption is all about!

It is also important that we Baptised Christians, who know of our own waywardness and sin, struggle daily with the reality, giving thanks to God for our Redemption - through the Cross of Christ alone (not by the arrogant presumption of our own righteousness and freedom from sin). Deo gratias!