Mark 14:12-26 – Sharing the Cup of Suffering

July 5, 2012

Just as there were two movements in Mark 14:1-11, a conspiracy to kill and a mealtime anointing in preparation for death, so there are two movements in Mark 14:12-26. The first recognizes the conspiracy along with the subsequent faithlessness of the disciples and the second describes another meal that carries the significance of Jesus’ death. […]

Mark 12:18-27: Who is Your God?

May 10, 2012

In this story Jesus confronts the limiting rationality of Sadducees who think it impossible that God should raise the dead. Their theology is limited by their own experience and rational argumentation. I dare say that is not too uncommon in our present moment as well. For example, it is not unusual to hear, “If God is like […]

Mark 12:13-17 – To Whom Does It Belong? Taxes and Such

May 7, 2012

I think the question is an important one. To whomever it belongs, it is owed.  One must decide their allegiance based on who the owner is. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God’s the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). The question whether Israel should pay the Caesar tax has been […]

Mark 12:1-12 — The Contested Vineyard

April 24, 2012

The Parable of the Tenants is the second in a series of seven confrontations between Jesus and Jewish leaders. Jesus had entered Jerusalem as a triumphant messianic figure, cleansed the temple, and was now walking the temple courts as a rabbi (teacher) with a large following. The temple leaders could not allow this presumption to […]

Mark 11:27-33 — The Question!

April 23, 2012

On Monday of Passion Week, Jesus entered the temple’s courts and prevented the normal merchandising that turned God’s “house of prayer for all nations” into a “den of robbers.” In other words, Jesus cleansed the temple just as earlier prophets had acted out symbols to embody their message. Jesus judged the temple authorities and their […]

Mark 11:1-11 – The Coming of the King

March 30, 2012

As Jesus enters Jerusalem, we enter the last week of Jesus’ life—the passion week. The Triumphal entry on Palm Sunday leads to a cross on Good Friday which is reversed by resurrection on Easter Sunday. Mark 11-16, practically one-third of the Gospel, is devoted to the last week of Jesus’ life. The messianic entourage approached […]

Mark 10:17-31 – Can the “Rich” Become “Last”?

March 19, 2012

Mark’s travelogue describes the journey of Jesus from Galilee (9:33) to Perea (10:1) to Jericho (10:46) to Bethany (11:1) and finally to Jerusalem (11:11). But this movement is more than geographical. The theme that runs through this journey to death is servanthood (9:35; 10:44-45) and the call to assume the role of the “last” rather than […]

Mark 10:13-16 – Receiving the Kingdom of God

March 15, 2012

This story has some familiar contours. The disciples fail, Jesus rebukes them, and then attempts to transform their thinking. It is like the song, “second verse, same as the first.” This cycle is repeated several times in Mark’s Gospel, particularly in Mark 8-10. This story functions to center a major theme within the narrative. It […]

Mark 10:1-12 – The Pharisees Test Jesus

March 13, 2012

Within the narrative of Mark, Jesus now leaves Galilee (Capernaum–the upper purple region on the map) and begins his journey to Jerusalem (10:1, 32). His route takes him into Perea (the lower purple region), the region “beyond the Jordan, on the eastern side of the river.” This is particularly significant since Jesus, though having left […]

Mark 9:33-50 — Wanna Be Great? Don’t Scandalize My “Little Ones”

March 5, 2012

While many have treated this section of Mark as a series of isolated sayings that follow a passion prediction, the thread that runs through it carries a powerful punch if we hear it as one continuous exchange between Jesus and his disciples. This thread directly connects with the prediction. Just as Jesus would serve others by suffering, […]