Sunday, January 24, 2010


Mark 7-9

Chapter seven starts with Jesus and his disciples eating a meal.  The Pharisees observe them and criticize them for not performing the ritual hand-washing before starting their meal.  Jesus tells the Pharisees, in essence, that they have ritualized the law and lost the true meaning.  Later, Jesus drives out a demon from the daughter of a woman, "Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia."  He went down to the Sea of Galilee, into the region of Decapolis, and opened the ears of a deaf and mute man.  He told the man not to tell anyone but the more he told people that, the more they talked.

In chapter eight, he is again preaching on a mountainside, and again multiplies loaves and fishes, feeding seven thousand.  He got into a boat with his disciples and went in to the region of Dalmanutha.  There, the Pharisees questioned him again.  They demanded of him a sign from heaven.  He laments that this generation wanted a sign, and said that no sign would be given.  He then crossed again with his disciples.  He spoke to them of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod, but they did not understand.  He reminded them of the loaves that fed the 5,000 and the 7,000, but they still did not understand.

At Bethsaida, he healed a blind man.  He asked his disciples what people were saying about him.  "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." When he asked them what they thought, Peter said "the Christ."  He told them not tell anyone.  He then began to teach them that his death would come at the hands of the "elders, chief priests and teachers of the law," and that after three days he would rise again. 

In chapter nine, he went up in to a high mountain with Peter, James and John.  While there, he was transfigured, garbed in white, "whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them," and Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus.  A voice then came down and said, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"

When they came down to where the other disciples were, a crowd gathered around them.  The others had been attempting to drive an evil spirit out of a boy who had suffered from birth, and were unable to.  But Jesus did.  Later, the disciples asked him why they had been unable to do it, and he answered that "This kind can come out only by prayer."  He then taught his disciples that the "Son of Man" will be killed and "and after three days he will rise."  They didn't understand, but were afraid to ask.  After that, he taught them further, including that everyone who was not against Jesus was for him, and that it was better to lose an eye than to keep it and go to hell.

Thoughts, questions, issues
  • Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that he did not come to abolish the law but that "until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."  Here in Mark, though, he suggests that, at the very least, the interpretations of the law are going to change.  He talks as if the dietary laws are not important ("nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'").  An Mark comments that "In saying this, Jesus declared all foods 'clean.'" 
  • In chapter 8, we not only get the foreshadowing of his death, but the first mention of the cross, as he tells his disciples that "if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
  • I don't understand the conversation with the Phoenician woman.
    First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

    "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."

    Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."

    I don't understand the impetus for his comment, and hers seems like a non-sequitur.  Obviously, there's always a reason, but I don't see this one.
  • The last part of chapter nine includes teachings that Matthew presents as part of the Sermon on the Mount.

Proverbs 14:19-35

I have no particular questions or insights on this set of verses.

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