Mark 4 opens with powerful words from Jesus. He is portrayed as a powerful doer/healer in the opening pages of Mark – proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God and now in chapter 4 especially Mark introduces us to the powerful teacher.
Jesus parable of the sower in Mark 4 troubles me because I think we tend to see ourselves as Christian leaders as the seed planted on the good soil. I don’t think this is always the case. I am more like the seed planted among the thorns. The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke the word. Those are tough words.
I used to read this parable and see only four options, shallow faith, rocky faith, distracted and faith and good faith. But what if any of these four could be us at any times? I think American Christianity is more closely resembled to the rocky and thorny soil. Unfortunately based on a lot of the articles I have been reading, teen faith resembles the seed on the path.
Mark 4:24-25, Look at what Jesus is saying and doing here. I think we are supposed to view v. 24-25 in light of what comes before about the parable of the seed and about not hiding what was meant to be shared or revealed. So is the issue how we hear and respond to the proclamation of Jesus? Whoever has more will be given. So, whoever has more hearing ability will be able to better understand what Jesus is saying and doing. Then whoever doesn’t hear well, or respond well to the words of Jesus won’t be given much?
Note that the chapter opens and closes with Jesus in a boat on the sea: This next section is an important. Probably one of my favorite sections of text.
Mark 4:35-41 told like an exorcism story
-the setting extremely important in Mark
-Jesus is moving back forth from Jewish and Gentile territory
– Gerasene territory Gentile
-literal movement and highly symbolic – Jesus is expanding the boundaries of holiness and the borders of the kingdom into unholy territory
-Jesus is portrayed as the cosmic divine warrior going to do battle against the forces of evil (4:35-41)
-leading his people in a new exodus (2nd Exodus) language of Exodus from Isaiah
-Mark purposefully tells the story of the stilling of the storm like he tells us about Jesus performing exorcism, “peace be still”
-like the demons told to be quiet, the wind obeys the command of Jesus
-Jesus asks the disciples why they still had no faith
-.v 41 – ask Jesus was, “who is this, that even the wind and waves obeyed him?”
-ancient people thought the seas were a place of evil
-i.e., Babylonian creation myths, there is an evil sea monster god of chaos
-the good gods battle the chaos gods with a great struggle
-i.e. Marduke defeats Tiamat, creates new earth out of Tiamat’s carcass
-the Genesis story contrasts greatly with the Babylonian creation stories
-the boundaries of the water are established by God’s powerful word
-Yahweh doesn’t struggle against the waters of chaos, there is no danger to him
-Jesus is pictured is Doing what God did, setting the boundaries of the sea
-story of Exodus, God divides the Red Sea, allows the children of Israel to pass through to the other side
-echoes the creation story, God is creating a new people
-this act of creation arises out of the setting of the boundaries of the water
-Jesus is in no danger from the waters of chaos, a high Christology. In other words, Mark sees Jesus as being God in the flesh!