Hespeler, 19 November, 2017 © Scott McAndless
Deuteronomy 8:1-3, Psalm 37:18-29, Mark 8:13-21
hen Mark wrote his Gospel – which most scholars agree was written sometime around the year 70 CE – he had two main purposes for doing so. The first one is kind of obvious. It had been about 40 years since Jesus had been crucified which meant that the people who had been there and seen Jesus and known him in the flesh were pretty much all gone or going soon. There was a need to set down the words of Jesus and the stories of what he had done in a way that would endure.
But there was a second agenda to the writing of the gospel that isn’t quite so obvious to us, but that actually may have been even more important to its writer. Mark was writing the story down for the people in his church – a church that was living through some very difficult times. He wanted to show them how to be the church in those times – to be a church that would be faithful to the vision and calling of Jesus.
And for me, that is one thing that makes this gospel so helpful to us today because, honestly almost two thousand years later, we are still trying to figure out the same thing. Of course, Mark can’t lay out too many of his lessons to the church explicitly because he is telling stories about things that happened over a generation ago. A lot of his messages come through in the way that he chooses to tell the story.
For example, there is a long stretch of narrative in the middle of the Gospel where Jesus and the disciples seem to criss-cross the Sea of Galilee. They travel in a boat and, whenever they land in some place or another, there is always some crowd of people that Jesus needs to minister to or some problem he needs to take care of – someone to heal, a demon to cast out or whatever it may be.
Now, of course, there is history behind that. Jesus clearly did travel all over Galilee and the Sea of Galilee was indeed one of the most convenient ways to travel long distances. But the way that Mark tells the story has a certain pattern to it. Every time the disciples leave the boat, they are met with an urgent need. Even when