THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK – PRESENTATION 6
CHAOS, EVIL AND DEATH.
I. The Walking on Water
God is described as causing a storm and then calming it to bring about
repentance. See, e.g., Psam 107:23ff.; Job 1.
2. No prophet.
However, had ever calmed storms himself, although Moses, Joshua, Elijah
and Elisha had parted the waters of a sea or river.
3. Mark uses
the same word for Jesus rebuking the storm as he does for Jesus rebuking
the demon, emphasizing the connection between the two events.
See Mark 1:25.
II. The Cure of the Geresene Demonic (Mark 5:-20)
A. Like the calming
of the sea, this miracle shows Jesus' power over chaos.
And here also, Mark describes the miracle at greater length than the
longer Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The conflict between good
and evil is a particularly strong theme of Mark.
B. The scene is
the territory of the Geresenes, and area to the woutheast of the Seax
of Galilee in the area called the Decapolis, so named because of the
ten major cities in the region. This area had been given to the
Chosen People, and in particular to the tribe of Manassah, by Moses,
but was no longer under Jewish control.
- Matthew says that
the miracle occurred at Gadra, which was the largest large town, and
thus better known
- Luke and Matthew
describe two possessed men. Mark focuses more on the conflict
than the numbers.
C. The conflict between Jesus and the demons in dramatic.
1. In language
to that used in Mark 1:24 and 3:11, Mark says the demons recognize Jesus
and here plead for mercy.
2. Jesus demonstrates power over demons by forcing themselves to reveal their name. The demons identify themselves as "legion," emphasizing the incredible number of demons involved.
- Legion was the
term for a Roman army of 6000 soldiers. Thus, there were vast
numbers of demons, who are here helpless. There may have also
been a subtle hint that the worldly power of the Romans could do nothing
against this evil power; only Jesus is the answer.
- Naming a demon
indicates power over it. Evil loses much of its power when its
identity is known.
He may have been giving them what little mercy they could accept.
2. In any case, this event shows the
self-destructiveness of evil.
3. The event
may also show the need for a sacrifice demanded for such a conquest
over evil. It is not that material sacrifices purchase such a
triumph, but that evil has its effects in the world, and is often torn
out with great struggle.
E. People of the region react with fear.
1. Fear at divine
power in itself a understandable reaction, as with Peter's reaction
"Depart from me, for I am an unclean man." Luke 5:8, see also Isaiah
2. But the odd
thing in that they did not seem greatly relieved. They seem to
have grown comfortable with the evil, and would rather their lives not
be shaken up. Complacency in the midst of evil was common then,
3. Jesus grants
their request and leave, for His mission is for now to the Chosen People.
But Jesus does send the cured man as a first missionary to Gentile territory,
a down payment on the spread of the Gospel to the nations.
III. The raising of Jarius's
Daughter and the Cure of the Woman with Hemorrhage. (Mark 5:21-42.)
A. Here Mark clearly
uses the "sandwich technique" of combining two events that comment
on each other. In particular, Christ cures the daughter of a prominent
leader who willing to voice his request and also answers the prayer
of an outcast woman just the same. In both cases, He takes on
popular misperceptions and emphasizes the power of faith. There
are two connections that make this connection even more clear: (1) the
girl cured was about 12 years old and the woman had been afflicted for
12 years; and (2) both the synagogue official and the woman fall down
at Jesus' feet, a sign of great reverence at least. (Matthew
and Luke use this technique here, but not elsewhere. Mark especially
wants to emphasize the connection.)
B. The Prayer of Jarius verses 21-24)
1. Jarius was
a synagogue official, and most likely the one who kept the local synagogue
in good order, conducted the Sabbath services, and chose who gave the
commentary on Scripture. He was taking a large risk in coming
to one who was considered an upstart. Mark specifically names
him, possibly because his faith gives him more of an identity and possibly
simply to give verification of the event.
2. Matthew and
Luke present Jarius as saying that she was dead, whereas Mark presents
him as saying she is near death. It is likely that he was in such
distress that he said one thing, while meaning another, or gave a confused
account. There is the overall picture of one who is desperate.
3. Jarius asks
Jesus to lay His hands upon her. This gesture was used in the
Old Testament for blessings and consecrating priests. See Gen.
48:14 (blessing by Jacob); Num 27:19 (the consecration of Levitical
priests.) But it may have been a rising custom that Christ took
up. After Pentecost, Christians would take up the practice for
both healing and consecration. See, e.g., Acts 8:17, 9:17; 1 Tim.
4:14. Now the Church uses this gesture in sacraments for both consecrations,
as in baptism, confirmations, and Holy Orders, and for healing, as with
anointing of the sick.
C. The Woman with Hemorrhage
1. The hemorrhage rendered
her and anything she touched unclean. See Lev 15:25 ff.
She also took a great risk in touching Jesus, for such an action by
an unclean person was absolutely forbidden.
2. Mark's negative
comment on doctors indicates her desperate condition and he miraculousness
of the cure. Cf. Tobit 2:10. The Talmud had listed 11 cures,
including some that seem to work as medicines, but here none of them
was successful. Luke, a physician, excludes this comment.
3. She believes
that touching His garment may work a miracle. The ideas was that
touching something holy would effect the cure. Thus Elijah's
mantle parted the Jordan and the Ark had brought blessings (or curses
if misused.) Here it works, but Jesus wants to emphasize importance
4. The cure was immediate and total. Christ knows of cure but, at least apparently did not know who was cured. He may not have known in human knowledge, but knows that someone has been physically cured. He now wants to cure her at a deeper level.
5. The woman
afraid because touching Jesus was illegal. (She had also probably
touched others in the process). Now she would also be morally
guilty in the eyes of the people if it were not for the cure.
But she does answer and Jesus emphasizes her faith (and by extension
faith in general) as salvific.
D. Raising of Jarius' daughter
1. The people
from the house seem almost anxious for Jesus to leave. Ordinarily,
they would still want Him there for comfort, but perhaps they are afraid
of daring to hope in Him, or of being seen to place hope in this upstart
preacher. The event contrasts fear (especially of human opinion)
2. Jesus allows only Peter, James, John inside with Him. They were also with Him at the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden.
- He does not
seem to want a dramatic show of power, but rather simply has the two
or three witnesses needed to establish an important fact. See,
e.g., Duet. 19:15; Matt 8:17.
- Here, as
elsewhere, Jesus is giving them a leadership role in the early church.
4. Jesus describes
the girl as asleep. That was a common term for physical death,
both as used in the Old Testament and by early Christians. See,
e.g., 1 King 2:10, 11:431 Cor. 15:6; 1 Thess. 4:13-15; John 11:11.
Christ would often describe those are really dead for those who were
out of God's grace, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son, See
Luke 15:32; see also Matt 10:28\.
5. The crowd's
opposition and ridicule simply set aside, as Jarius shows even more
6. As he often
does, Mark records exact words. And he then brings a sense of
earthly reality by Jesus' command that she be given something to eat.
7. Old Testament prophets had raised a few people from the dead, but they had called upon God to show this power. See 1 Kings 17:21; 2 Kings 4:34. Jesus, by contrast, raises her by His own command, hinting at His divinity.