Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mark 4:1-20

Yes, we're still in Mark 4. You're probably thinking, "Get moving, woman! Mark has plenty more to say about Jesus!"

I got kind of stuck in Mark 4:11-12. "He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,   and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!"

Recall that the larger context here is that Jesus has just told the parable of the sower and he is now sitting with just his 12 disciples. But, verses 11 and 12 are a bit tricky. For one thing, Jesus is referring back to Isaiah 6:9-10 when God said through Isaiah that He would keep people from understanding the truth until the proper time had arrived.

I'm not sure that is how Jesus is using it here. I think Jesus is speaking with frustration and irony here. In the Bible, we don't get the cues that we get from other writing, such as, Jesus answered, sounding frustrated and ironic . . .  Instead, we just get the words. 

After reading a few commentaries and wrestling with it myself, I've come to the conclusion that Jesus was probably throwing his arms out to show off the entire crows and saying in a frustrated tone, "See, they don't get it, even when I speak in parables so that "they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing, but never understaing; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven." But, for you close followers, I'll spell out the parable for you.

When we read the ancient and rather sparse literature which comes to us with little embellishment, we have to read between the words to figure out what was really happening there.

Now, after I've spilled all of this digital ink, let me say that there are plenty more interpretations of this set of verses than just mine. Rosie Girl discussed this in her Christianity class the other day. Rosie Girl interprets it as Jesus saying that he's coming to do new thing and that nothing is going to be the same anymore.

So, let's open it up for questions. What do you think? Answer in the comments, on FB, or on Twitter!

1 comment:

Lydia Martin said...

Rosie Girl:

Okay, what I think I actually said was, "He was using the parables as a catalyst for critical thinking, to encourage the Jews he was teaching to think outside of their beliefs to try and understand"

If I didn't, that's what I meant to say.