Sunday, June 20, 2010

288: Looks Familiar

Mark 1-3
"And this was his message: 'After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.' " - Mark 1:7-8

This could be a short day. Mark seems to be an almost word for word retelling of Matthew.

The first large omission is the entire Christmas story. We are not told where Jesus comes from or where he was born.

In the first chapter Mark describes John the Baptist, and gives a one sentence description of Jesus's baptism. Next is a succinct description of Jesus's temptation by Satan. Then Jesus calls his first disciples and drives out an evil spirit (I can't find this particular "evil spirit" in Matthew). The evil spirit says that he knows who Jesus is. Jesus tells the spirit to be quiet and come out of the man.

Jesus then goes to Simon's (aka Peter's) house and heals his mother. Only then does Jesus move to another town and heal a man with leprosy. This is in the wrong order. Matthew says that Jesus healed a man with leprosy then healed Peter's mother.

Mark then talks about Jesus healing the paralytic. This time we hear that the people carrying the paralytic had to dig through Jesus's roof in order to get past the crowd. I'm not sure how they were able to get through the crowd to get to Jesus's roof. Jesus seems unfazed by a group of four men destroying his house by breaking in through the ceiling.

Another glaring omission from Matthew is Jesus's assertion that he's not here to change the law of the prophets. Isn't that pretty important?

I know I'm omitting a lot of things (Jesus talking about fasting, Jesus talking about the sabbath, Jesus denying his mother and brothers, Jesus being accused of teaming up with Satan, etc.), but they are all pretty much carbon copies of Matthew.

A high school president was denied leading a prayer at his graduation. For once, nobody seems to be suing.
The student had wanted to read "A Graduate's Prayer" by Helen Steiner Rice, said Don Pullen, pastor at Valley View Alliance Church in Hellam Township. Mackley did as asked, Pullen said, but mentioned during the speech that he was asked not to read the poem.
For those of you who have never heard "A Graduate's Prayer", here it is:
Father I have knowledge,
So will you show me now
How to use it wisely
And find a way somehow
To make the world I live in
A little better place,
And make life with its problems
A bit easier to face…

Grant me faith and courage
And put purpose in my days
And show me how to serve Thee
In the most effective ways
So all my education
My knowledge and my skill
May find their true fulfillment
As I learn to do Thy will…

And may I ever be aware
In everything I do
That knowledge comes from learning
And wisdom comes from you.
How is this appropriate, or in any way relevant, to a school graduation? Other than, of course, attempting to blatantly proselytize to your graduating class. This is a perfect example of why prayer at graduations, and other school events, should be (and is) banned.

Unfortunately, in the bible belt, most students don't ask their administration whether it's ok to throw God into their graduation speeches (nor does the administration care about God in graduation speeches). I had to go to my high school's graduation all four years I was in high school, and every year someone would mention how wonderful God was and how God helped them so much with their studies. First of all, no, you studied, worked hard, and accomplished your academic goals, I don't see God in that equation. Second, while I'm not personally offended, it would be nice if someone would follow this particular law on occasion.


  1. You have it the other way around - Mark is not an abbreviation of Matthew, Matthew is an expansion of Mark. And there are significant differences between them, even on the material where they overlap.

  2. On to the verse-by-verse commentary.

    Mark 1:1. The phrase "the Son of God" was added later. It is lacking from early manuscripts.

    Mark 1:2. The first quote, which is claimed to be from Isaiah, is actually from Malachi 3:1. The second quote is Isa 40:3. Matthew, having recognized Mark's mistake, removed the first quote in Matt 3:1.

    Mark 1:4. John preached a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." This is stronger than in Matt 3, where it is merely stated that John baptized "with water for repentance." The likely reason why Matthew soften this point is that he was embarrassed by the fact that Jesus had been baptized for the forgiveness of sins. What sins had Jesus committed? He was, after all, according to Matthew, born the Son of God! Thus Matthew makes up a bogus excuse whereby John points out that Jesus should be the one baptizing him, but Jesus insists on doing it anyway, for no intelligible reason. Mark, OTOH, has no problem with just having Jesus walk up and matter-of-factly get baptized by John (Mark 1:9).

    Why wasn't Mark embarrassed by this baptism of Jesus (which all 3 other evangelists were, as we shall see)? It may be because Mark did not think of Jesus as being the Son of God until his baptism. Consider the following clues:
    -Mark makes no mention of Jesus birth or childhood.
    -Mark doesn't mention anything about a virgin birth. All indications are that Joseph and Mary were his real parents.
    -As we'll see later (Mark 3:21), his family even thinks he is crazy. If they had known about the predictions of the angels, etc., they would've believed in him all along.
    -Jesus is baptized for the forgiveness of sins, which makes sense if he was an ordinary man up until that point.
    -At his baptism, a dove descends from heaven into Jesus (Mark 1:10)! (The translation into English disguises this, but the oldest Greek manuscripts have a different preposition than the one used in Matthew and Luke.)
    -God speaks to only Jesus at his baptism, telling him that now he is his son.

    ...I have to run. i'll finish this later.



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