On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Texts for Sunday, February 1st, 2015

First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15–20

15The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.  16This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: "If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die."  17Then the LORD replied to me: "They are right in what they have said.  18I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.  19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.  20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak — that prophet shall die."

Psalm 111

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1–13

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  2Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;  3but anyone who loves God is known by him.
4Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one."  5Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as in fact there are many gods and many lords —  6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
7It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.  8Food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.  9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.  10For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?  11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.  12But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.  13Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Gospel: Mark 1:21–28

21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.  22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,  24and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."  25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!"  26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.  27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching — with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him."  28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Mark 1:21-28 Greek Text

Greek Study Mark 1:21-28

v21 εισπορευονται (εισπορευομαι) pres. "they went" - historical present.
τοις σαββασιν (ον ου) dat. "when the Sabbath came" - dative of time, the plural form is a reflection of the Aramaic and does not mean Jesus is attending synagogue on successive Sabbaths so "On the next Sabbath".
εισελθων (εισερχομαι) aor. part. "went into" - attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "teach"; "he entered .... and taught."
την συναγωγην (η) "the synagogue" - Capernaum was a substantial town with a population around 10,000, the synagogue would have been THE synagogue or the main synagogue.
εδιδασκεν (διδασκω) imperf. "he began to teach" - the imperfect is inceptive, i.e.  the emphasis is placed on the beginning of the action. Given synagogue protocol, Jesus would have been invited to preach, which means he was known to the elders as a rabbi. Mark is underlining the prime function of Jesus' mission, preaching.

v22 εξεπλησσοντο (εκπλησσω) imperf. "the people were amazed" – a complex word that also communicates astonished, overwhelmed, filled with fear and wonder. The imperfect tense is durative and links to Jesus' act of teaching in v21, so from the very moment he began teaching people were astonished. Remember Mark also ends with the women overcome by εκπλησσω amazement and fear (16:8). This response to Jesus is well short of faith and it seems clear that Mark wants to underline the need to move from wonder to faith.
τη διδαχη (η) dat. "teaching" - Are the people amazed at how he taught, or at the content of his teaching? Commentators are divided. 
γαρ "because" - for. Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why the people were amazed.
ην ... διδασκων (διδασκω) verb to-be + pres. part. "he taught" - a true periphrastic construction, ie. it is used for stylistic flair. It is possible that Mark is using the periphrastic to underline ongoing action or for emphasis.
εχων (εχω) pres. part. εξουσιαν (α) "having authority" (power/ability) these three possible meanings indicate the difficultly in identifying what it was about Jesus' teaching/presentation that prompted amazement. Was it his use of "I say unto you", rather than "thus says the Lord" or his knowledge and debating skill? The first option seems most likekly.
οι γραμματεις (υς εως) "the teachers of the law" – i.e. recognized theological authorities.
v23 ευθυς "just then" - immediately. 
εν + dat. "in" - in. Expressing space/sphere. "came into / appeared in" - so "When Jesus had finished teaching, a person possessed by an evil spirit entered the synagogue and began screaming."
αυτων gen. pro. "their [synagogue]" – the genitive is possessive, is Mark saying this was the synagogue usually attended by Jesus and his disciples?
ανθρωπος (ος) "a man" an idiom; "someone."
εν + dat. "who was possessed by" - reflecting the Aramaic, expressing association, so "under the influence of".
ακαθαρτω adj. "an evil [spirit]".
ανεκραξεν (ανακραζω) aor. "cried out" – (the man or the unclean spirit?) In demon possession, the personality of the demon is distinct from the host. So, it is probably the demon enraged at the presence of Jesus, rather than the man crying out for help.
v24 λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. saying
τι ημιν και σοι "what do you want with u?" - the dative personal pronoun  υμιν and σοι serve as datives of respect; "what is there with reference to “us”?" So this is an idiom with several possible meanings: "What have we and you in common", or in Classical Greek; "why do you interfere with us", or commonly "mind your own business!" Note the plural "us" meaning spirit has numerous possessing spirits with one speaking for the rest.
ηλθες (ερχομαι) aor. "have you come" - possibly a question, but the clause may also be a statement; "you have come....."
απολεσαι (απολυμι) aor. inf. "to destroy" - infinitive is expressing purpose.
οιδα ..... οιδαμεν "I know" - variant reading is "we know".
σε τις ει "who you are" -. It was believed that by knowing a person, power is gained over them. The demons knew Jesus: his name, his business, his judgment; and his nature. SO this is a taunt, "We know who you are and so you have no power over us."
ο αγιος του θεου "the Holy One of God" - Mark probably intends the phrase as a messianic title.
v25 φιμωθητι (φιμοω) aor. pas. imp. "be quiet" - be muzzled.
επετιμησεν (επιτιμαω) aor "said [Jesus] sternly" - [the sense is of an authoritative silencing: "Jesus told him to shut up." Jesus is possibly just cutting short the unclean spirit's self defense, but he may also be wanting to maintain the messianic secret.
εξελθε (εξερχομαι) aor. imp. "come out" - Jesus teaches with authority and demonstrates that authority in his command over demons.

v26 σπαραξαν (σπαρασσω) aor. part. "shook [the man] violently" - adverbial, best treated as temporal; "after throwing the man into convulsions ..." expressing action accompanying the main verb "came".
εξ + gen. "of [him]" - [expressing source; "out from him."
φωνη μελαλη dat. "with a loud voice. dative is modal, expressing manner.
φωνησαν (φωνεω) aor. part. "a shriek" (idiom) literally “a voice, a loud voice!”. The aorist tense links the verbs. The shaking and shouting illustrates resistance although ineffectual.
v27 εθαμβηθησαν (θαμβεω) aor. pas. "were all so amazed" - because Jesus cast out the demon(s) without the usual incantations and actions, with a word of command. Of course it is also quite possible exorcisms were not commonplace, at least successful ones!
συζητειν (συζητεω) pres. inf. "they asked" – (discuss, question, disputed)  so the action engendered lively debate among them.  
λεγοντας (λεγω) pres. part. saying. kainh adj. "a new [teaching]" - "in respect of quality.
και "even" - and. emphasizing that the authoritative word exercised over the demons is more amazing than Jesus' authoritative word in teaching, which is also amazing.
τοις πνευμασι τοις ακαθαρτοις dat. "[he even gives order to] evil spirits" – a dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to command."
v28 αυτου gen. pro. "[news] about him" - genitive is verbal, objective; so "the story of what Jesus had done".
της Γαλιλαιας gen. "[the region] of Galilee" - genitive is partitive; so “the news got out” 
ευθυς, "immediately" and 

πανταχου "everywhere" - so much for a Messianic secret!

Have you Come to Destroy us?

Our ancestors in the faith believed that spirits were more powerful than human beings but less powerful than God. — John Pilch

  1. When we read this part of the Gospel of Mark we see it as a miraculous faith healing and begin to wonder why these type of things no longer happen. In turn then, we struggle to explain why it is no longer happening, this faith healing thing. Yes, I know, there is Benny Hinn, but he is booked into auditoriums, not scheduled at cancer wards. We also ask if we are either insufficient as church because we can no longer do this type of thing or we have an explanation why miracles have ceased. The former can be seen in quotes like this “If people can’t be healed today then people can’t be saved today.” Jerry Savelle, also booked into auditoriums, not hospitals, said that one. 
  2. Many of us mainline people would quickly point out that we do still heal. We merely chose to express it through the daily ministry of doctors and nurses. We all see the man possessed as a sick man whose “possession” has a perfectly rational explanation that Jesus healed. On the other end of the spectrum, some might say that the man was not sick at all. He was merely objecting to Jesus as a teacher in his synagogue and Jesus shut him up by superior teaching that had power. It is hard to argue with the presence of a great preacher that has somehow touched and enlightened everyone else in the room. 
  3. So what do we do with this episode today, ever so many years after in such a different land? Many spirits contend for our allegiance even today. Let us for a while move away from the guy being “sick” sick or “insane” sick or even “possessed” sick. Let us entertain that he is merely of a spirit opposed to God and the Gospel. That would make him by definition an “evil” spirit. But even less than that, maybe he is of spirit that is merely bored, unconcerned, uninvolved, uncaring, uninterested, the picture of apathy toward the God of heaven and earth in human flesh. That would count as “evil” as well if he is indeed willing to shriek about his distance from God and invite others to it. In a way he is saying: “What does it matter? What has God done for us lately? It don’t work for me, it won’t work for you.” He would be a picture of no-faith. Maybe he is a spirit that is clouded and asleep like the more typical C and E church attender. 
  4. Why would it make sense to look at it this way, from a technical standpoint? The possessed one is in a synagogue, a place that is to be full of the word of God and therefore the Spirit of God. Yet, there he is, full of a spirit that that is contrary to what the faith the synagogue stands for and that needs driving out. This interaction is supposed to happen there. It is meant to be going on. The place is meant to be doing it. Leaving aside speculation on why the place has not been able to get it done, it is clear that Jesus by his presence and authority can, does, and will do so. Maybe an organization that hopes to be the continued presence of Jesus needs to be radical enough to be able to do likewise.
  5. On the level of the individual, maybe we can compare this to the parable of the seeds of Mark 4. Since we are speaking of spirits maybe the healing here is about healing the faith of the man, birds, scorching sun, and weeds having taken their toll on him. It is not easy to be challenged as being one whose heart has not been “good soil.” Yes, there is a song — let us not call it a hymn — that begs that our heart be good soil. I am thinking that song misses the simple fact that the birds don’t care that the path wants to be field. It also tragically overlooks the fact that the weeds love good soil just as much as the grain. By their growth rates versus that of wheat maybe the weeds show they love it more and know better how to use it. Speaking as a contemplative, if the path can ask to be field then it already has faith, it is merely in a state of desolation right now. When the path does not care that nothing will grow on it then it is in unfaith. Unclean spirit does then apply.  
  6. The man, really the spirit within the man, may just be in that latter state. Somehow Jesus’ presence has set him off. He is angry enough to challenge Jesus: “What do you want from me? Why do you interrupt my comfort? I have life worked out without the Kingdom of God in my world. You are challenging me and I hate it.” John would say: “He came to his own and his own did not receive him.” Mark writes: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” It is the same sentiment. 
  7. To be in the synagogue in that spirit must have required a large number of compromises, by man and synagogue, and God don’t do compromise. Jesus’ presence seems to make that clear both in John and in Mark. In the places that do preach the Good News of the Kingdom, there is to be no compromise in Faith. Will he destroy now that he is here? That is a question that hangs in the air unanswered. If you know that you are standing in front of God the Son and you are saying: “mind your own business,” then the answer might be harsh. Unfaith is like a path that does not desire to be converted into field. It does not want to be plowed. To be field it will be plowed and that will destroy it as a path. Hard clay will break in the hand of the potter and good for it that it does. Sometimes destruction is the Good News. That is a hard saying but any path that longs to be a field longs for its destruction. Any heart that longs for God is like that path. God’s claiming it will break and rebuild it in due time and broke this man’s world, faith, and heart as well, only to mold it aright. Resurrections require a death, there is no way of getting around it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Texts for Sunday January 25th, 2015

First Reading: Jonah 3:1–5, 10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying,  2Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.  3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days' walk across.  4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's walk. And he cried out, "Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"  5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29–31

29I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none,  30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions,  31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Gospel: Mark 1:14–20

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,  15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news."
16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen.  17And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people."  18And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.  20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Mark 1, Greek - Pr. Fourman

Greek Study Mark 1:14-20

v14 μετα .. το παραδοθηναι (παραδιδωμι) aor. inf. "after [John] was delivered/turned over” a temporal clause. Mark clearly has Jesus' public ministry following John's. 
εις την Γαλιλαιαν "into Galilee" - Not only does Jesus commence his public ministry in his home province, but it also becomes the center for his ministry.
κηρυσσων (κηρυσσω) pres. part. "proclaiming" - Jesus went...and preached", better treated as modal, i.e. expressing the manner of Christ's coming; "he came preaching". 
το ευαγγελιον (ον) "the good news" – a word used of an important message, such as news reported from a battlefront. The news may be good or bad either way, but it is always important, so "God's important message."
της βασιλειας (α) "of the kingdom" του θεου "of God" (a glass?) the genitive is ablative expressing source/origin, "so God’s important message about His own Kingdom."

v15 ο καιρος (ος) "the time" πεπληρωται (πληροω) perf. "has come" - the sense "completed" is best, this is an idiomatic phrase that serves as a redundancy.
η βασιλεια (α) "the kingdom" (actually reign) του θεου "of God" ηγγικεν (εγγιζω) perf. "is near" - expresses motion toward, so the perfect tense is expressing the idea that the motion in time is toward the realization of the kingdom and has reached virtual completion in Jesus.
μετανοιετε (μετανοεω) imp. "repent" – to change the direction of… the word carries the sense of, "turn around", so the imperative is to "turn from opposition to God", or "turn toward God". Of course, the word "repent" means something quite different in our modern sense so perhaps we are best not to use it at all?
πιστευετε (πιστευω) pres. imp. "believe" – the sense of the word is " put one's weight on", or "rely on” rather than to give intellectual ascent to.
It strikes me that verse 15 contains just about every important Greek word in the New Testament where the content of the Christian Faith is concerned.  

v16 παραγων (παραγω) pres. part. "As he [Jesus] walked" - gives the same sense as "passing by" παρα + acc. "along" - την θαλασσαν (α) "sea". Jesus ministry is in the Jewish towns around the lake, Capernaum was his headquarters της Γαλιλαιας (α) gen. "of Galilee" literally the sea which is located in the region of Galilee – this serves as a geographic clarification for non-Jews.  
αμφιβαλλοντας (αμφιβαλλω) pres. part. "casting a net" – the participle forms a dependent statement of perception; "he saw that Simon and his brother Andrew were casting a net into the lake." 
αλιεις (υς εως) "fisherman" – actually meaning commoners but note that Zebedee employs "hired men", which indicates that James and John at least were not form the bottom of the social scale.

v17 δευτε "come" - come here- an imperatival interjection.
οπισω + gen. "follow [me]" - an invitation to take up apprenticeship with a rabbi.
ποιησω (ποιεω) fut. "I will make" - in the sense of "cause someone to do something".
γενεσθαι (γινομαι) aor. inf. I will make of you- [I will make you become fishers of men]. An infinitival phrase, object of the verb "make" is in the form of a double accusative construction, with the personal pronoun "you” serving as the subject of the infinitive, and "fishers of men" as the object; so, "follow me and I will see to it that you become fishermen ανθρωπων (ος) gen. "[fishers] of men" - the genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "fishermen"; so "fishermen who fish for men." 

v18 ευθυς "at once" – immediately- expressing a speedy response to Jesus' authority.
αφεντες (αφιημι) aor. part. "they abandoned” attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "followed". The act of leaving their nets may serve to illustrate a renunciation of the world but we know they retained their property, so it is more likely they packed up their gear for the time being in order to go on a mission with their rabbi.
τα δικτυα (ον) "their nets" - the word can mean any net, although probably "casting net" is intended.
ηκολουθησαν (ακολουθεω) aor. "followed" – a literal "following" is intended, although a derived sense may be present, i.e. "follow as a disciple".

v19 προβας (προβαινω) pres. part. "when he had gone [a little further]" του Ζεεδαιου (ος) gen. "son of Zebedee".
εν τω πλοιω "in a boat" - the definite article need not be translated, in fact it may serve as a possessive pronoun, "their", the last place a person works on a net is in the confined space of a boat.
καταριζοντας (καταρτιζω) part. "preparing" - mending, restoring, strengthening a dependent statement of perception - possibly adverbial, temporal, "while they were preparing their nets their nets for the next day's fishing - mending, cleaning, folding, etc.

v20 ευθυς "without delay" - immediately - also in v18 and possibly wanting to convey an instantaneous call and response, but probably just expressing a sense of haste - best not translated.
εκαλεσεν (καλεω) aor. "he called" – actually "summoned” as before a court of law.  There is a certain coercive nature to this word.
αφεντες (αφιημι) aor. part. "they left" – ουτων "their [father Zebedee]" Genitive of relationship εν + dat. "in [the boat]" μετα + gen. "with" των μισθωτων (ος) "the hired laborers.

οπισω + gen. "and followed".

Open Eyes - Pr. Kruse

Comfort, O comfort my people  says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. — Isaiah, prophet 

  1. I cannot get past the first couple of verse of this week’s text: “Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.” Yes, I know there is a beautiful text on calling going on but Jesus is not just calling these people. He is calling with a purpose. 
  2. Think about this for a moment: When do you go out and ask people to help you or support your cause or work? Just imagine if someone came to you and asked for your help and support, even your time but really could not state if there was a cause or what its ends where or why it was important. You would assume that he was selling Amway and was, rightly, embarrassed about it. 
  3. No, all this calling disciples and building a circle of disciples and supporters, hangers-on and curiosity seekers had an actual purpose. Jesus actually has a cause. Not just an idea or a really neat blog post or web site and is not a life coach with a new book of holistic exercises for your brain and your body, complete with appendix on diet. 
  4. More important, he is not “missional” in these verses. He is not trying to bring people to himself. He is looking for allies to enact a plan. The kingdom of God, God, is close in every respect of the word. Come to your feet. Dust yourself off. Call out strong for the Son of David is passing by, the lamb of God, the Son. (Mk 10:46-52)
  5. I am captivated by the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10. Yes, that is at the other end of the story, right before the trial and crucifixion. Bart is a true contemplative, waiting, maybe desperately, for the presence of God. Longing deep inside to see the face of God, a sign or symbol of God’s gracious presence. 
  6. If we are honest we all long for God to be revealed. If we are further honest, we are happy and quick to dismiss any claims or experiences that suggest that God was indeed meddling and moving in everyday life somehow. Epiphany makes questions of these two sentences. Do we look for God to reveal himself? Is not the incarnation a hint that God just might still meddle in the affairs of humans? He did it in the past in Jesus, he did it in pillar of cloud and fire, he did it in tongues of fire, are you so sure God does not still work in significant ways?
  7. If you cannot assume or accept the latter, can you ever be Peter, or James, or John? Either God does not act for his people or you follow Jesus and confess him as the Christ, Son of God who came to earth and walked upon it. We can only have it one way here.
  8. If we chose the latter, then are we listening for the traces of his passing? If the kingdom of God is near then we indeed need to turn and look around. Maybe that is why repentance is called for here. Turn around, look about with new eyes (Bartimaeus), the kingdom is near. Dare to look and dare to believe that things are happening. More-so, dare to believe that it is good news and not to your doom.
  9. Why does this require the assembly of a posse? Because it is too easy to believe that God prefers to be far away. It is easy to make faith an intellectual matter and thereby confine God to heaven to be seen and experienced at death or second coming, or resurrection, argue the reality and efficacy of each at your leisure. There have to be those who dare to look and then tell and point to the new reality: It is here, yes, here that you will meet God. How will you recognize that? The church, the continued memory of the experience presence of God from the disciples on, is charged with being the curators of that wisdom. Is she and her members looking for the presence of God and the passing of the Son of David? Is she using the eyes that Jesus gave to Bartimaeus?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Texts for January 11th, 2015 The Baptism of our Lord

First Reading: Genesis 1:1–5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,  2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  3Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.  4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Second Reading: Acts 19:1–7

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.  2He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."  3Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They answered, "Into John's baptism."  4Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus."  5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied —  7altogether there were about twelve of them.

Gospel: Mark 1:4–11

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  6Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  7He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  11And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Mark 1:4-11

Greek Study Mark 1:4-11

v4 εγενετο (γινομαι) aor. "and so [John] came" βαπτιζων (βαπτιζω) pres. act. part. "baptizing – literally “immersing”. Could be translated "John the one baptizing" or "John the baptist", obviously trying to εμυλατε Ιωαννης ο βαπτιστης. Taking the participle as αναρθρουσ may be adverbial, expressing the manner of John's coming, he comes "baptizing" and "preaching" - as the divine "messenger" proclaiming a message which prompts repentance.
εν τη ερημω "in the desert" – cf Isaiah 40:3; ερημω means ‘uninhabited place”.
κηρυσσων (κηρυσσω) pres. part. "preaching" -, as with "baptizing", is adverbial, expressing the manner of John's coming 
μετανοιας (α) gen. " repentance" - a turning about, changing direction (not feeling sorry). The genitive is adjectival, limiting "baptism", so a "repentance baptism", although in use it would be idomatic. John's baptism is a baptism limited to or characterized by a visible expression of repentance, an outward way of enacting an inward decision. But how can baptism be preached? When Jesus tells his disciples to go and make disciples "baptizing them in the name", it is unlikely he was promoting an ecclesiastical rite. The sign is part of the package, it is the preaching of the gospel, "immersing one in the name", that is important.
αφεσιν (ις εως) "the release/forgiveness” [of sins], the purpose of the preaching was not baptism but repentance. 

v5 πασα "all/the whole [Judean countryside]" - Mark is exaggerating, but none-the-less, the exaggeration serves to illustrate John's popularity confirmed by Josephus. 
εξεπορευετο (εκπορευομαι) imperf. "went out" - the imperfect is durative, i.e. expresing a continuous flow of people to witness John's ministry by the Jordan.
εξομολογουμενοι (εξομολογεω) pres. part. mid. "confessing" – an attendant circumstance participle identifying action accompanying the verb "being baptized". The order is reversed, i.e. they confessed their sins and then εβαπτιζοντο (βαπτιζω) imperf. pas. "they were baptized", i.e. they were allowing themselves to be immersed in water. This is supported by the preposition υπο, "by [him]", expressing agency. In Jewish proselyte baptism the initiate baptizes themselves, here John is performing the rite, so whatever this is, it is not that.

v6 ην ... ενδεδυμενος (ενδυω) perf. mid. part. "wore clothing" – a periphrastic pluperfect emphasizing aspect, so “it was John's accustomed dress”. Mark's description of John's clothing and food serves to further the image of the "one calling in the wilderness", an image with powerful Old Testament precedents. John is a desert ascetic, a Nazarite. His dress is similar to Elijah. The divine revelation was first encountered in the wilderness (through both Abraham and Moses) so this is where John operates and dresses accordingly.
καμηλου (ος) "camel's [hair]"  Such a garment would be very itchy.
και "with [a leather]" - Mark leans toward a ζευγμα here where the verb "wore" works for clothing but not for a belt.
ζωνην (η) "belt" John's loose cloak was held together by a wide leather waistband that would with compartments for holding John's basic needs.
εσθιων (εσθιω) pres. part. "he ate" ακριδας (ις εως) "locusts" – the food of the poor.

v7 λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. "saying” redundant. Mark, in v4, identifies forgiveness as the heart of the gospel message proclaimed by John but also records that John's preaching referenced the coming of "one more powerful." Mark does not record the Baptist's ethical teaching but instead focuses on his call for repentance in the face of the coming one.
οπισω + gen. "after [me]" - "after" in a chronological sense, but John could be saying that the messiah follows from this ministry, in the sense of taking up where he leaves off.
ερχεται (ερχομαι) pres. "will come" - is coming; a futuristic present tense.
ο ισχυροτερος comp. adj. "one more powerful/stronger” - adjective serves as a substantive – this was likely a known title for the messiah.
ικανος adj. "[I am not] worthy"  = competent. The one who follows the Baptist is the worthy one. A Hebrew slave would not be expected to undertake the menial task of untying a master's sandal, but John, even though he is God's messenger, is not worthy to undertake even this menial task when it comes to the messiah. 
κυψας (κυπτω) aor. part. "to stoop down" - participle could be classified as complementary, and along with the infinitive "to untie" serve to complete the sense of the verbal phrase.
λυσαι (λυω) aor. inf. "to loose. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "I am not worthy."

v8 εγω εβαπτισα (βαπτιζω) aor. "I alone/only baptize" - an interesting use of the aorist (punctiliar), rather than present (durative). Possibly the aorist is used to express an expected end to John's ministry with the coming of the one greater. 
υδατι (ωρ ατος) dat. "with water". In v5 we are told John baptized people εν, the river Jordan. It is therefore not unreasonable that we have here a simple local dative which may well be "by means of water."
εν + dat. "with [the Holy Spirit]" - dative of means. Perhaps Mark is comparing the ministry sphere within which John and Jesus operate. 

1:9 εγενετο (γινομαι) "it came to pass” a new episode. 
εν + dat. "at [that time]" - in [those days] temporal use.
ηλθεν (ερχομαι) aor. "came" - Jesus' coming απο "from" Nazareth to John at the Jordan river parallels v5.
τηϖ Γαλιλαιας (α) gen. "in Galilee" - of Galilee. The genitive is adjectival, locative; "Nazareth which is located in Galilee."
εβαπτισθη (βαπτιζω) aor. pas. "was baptized" - was immersed. 

v10 ευθυς adv. "Just as" - immediately. Temporal adverb. Mark sometimes uses the word to tie together related episodes, at other times to provide dramatic movement.
αναβαινων (αναβαινω) pres. part. "was coming" - participle is adverbial, probably temporal.
τους ουρανους (ος) gen. pl. "[a ripping] of the heavens” - abode of God, although often referring to sky. The plural "heavens" is idiomatic.
σχιζομενους (σχιζω) pres. pas. part. "torn open" - the accusative participle serves as an object complement in a double accusative construction asserting a fact about the object "heavens." 
καταβαινον (καταβαινω) pres. part. "descend/descending" - the accusative participle serves as an object complement asserting a fact about the object the "Spirit".
ως "like" – a comparative; either descending as a dove would descend, or descending looking like a dove, in which modifying " Spirit." 
περιστεραν (α) "a dove" - either the divine is being represented as a bird-like creature coming to rest on Jesus, or a dove as a common symbol of Israel at the time, identifies Jesus as the new Spirit-filled corporate Israel.

v11 εκ + gen. "from [heaven]" - presumably the voice of God.
ο ουος (ος) "[my] Son" - messianic not filial.
ο αγαπητος "whom I love" - adjective functions as a substantive; pushing the idea of "unique /only son", given that the Hebrew "only" is often translated by the same Greek word in the LXX, but in messianic terms rather than filial. 

ευδοκησα (ευδοκεω) aor. "I am well-pleased" – a timeless aorist, best represented with present tense. Possibly, "I think it good", or "I am resolved", or in gentler terms, "on you my favor rests". If the meaning "well pleased" is adopted, the word carries enthusiasm.

Nice to Meet you?

Those who make their living researching and publishing cultural archeology, such as John Pilch who I quote frequently (and who can be accessed here: if one fiddles with the links to get to the readings of the day), point out that something is going on that would have made perfect sense to any of Mark’s readers. When a child was born, that child was soon after claimed by his father as the father’s own. In doing that, the father claimed paternity over the child. In doing so, the father had to take care that he not claim another man’s offspring as that would have been a great offense. We see the latter in Matthew’s story of Joseph contemplating what to do about Mary and her pregnancy. Yes, he can punish Mary but also, he has decided not to take the child to his house. The dream he has subsequently gives him implicit permission to do so and Jesus becomes part of the house of Joseph. (Matt 1:20) Here the true father, God, gives permission to Joseph to take the child and his mother as his own, yet God reserves the right of naming. 
In our time, family has become a much more loose association. Participation in family has become somewhat of an optional thing as well. Social structures have given us that option. In places and times when police and fire protection were none existent and there was not even a poor house or county home much less social security, family took on all these duties. Being claimed into the family was a bestowal of the benefit of being looked after and the imposition of responsibility to be looking after the affairs of the family. One who wanders about without family, might just as well wander unprepared into the desert and wild places. 
Factions and tribes are the larger crowds made up of multiple families units that have made common cause, the crowd that follows Jesus eventually is a faction. The people of Nazareth who seek to stone him are a tribe of sorts. But, at base level, a family cared for you and you made common cause with it first, acknowledging its claim on you, even against faction or tribe. The radicallity of Jesus’ call to leave father, mother, and kin (Mk 10:29) for the sake of the Gospel is really much greater than we assume since most of us can, frankly, do without them if we must, even if we go it alone as a result. 
It is no accident that men were named by their own name and the appendix of their father’s name. It declared a greater reality that stood behind the man. Bjorn Swenson was backed up by, at minimum, Swen and his sons. You wanted to pick on Bjorn, you could do the calculations as to whether you were a match for Swen, Bjorn, Bjorn’s brothers, cousins, and extended family. 
The opening verse of the Gospel of Mark makes an astonishing claim: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” (1:1) A mere 8 verses later we record the episode of the Baptism of Jesus. In it, the claim that Mark makes at the beginning is repeated: Heaven tears open and the voice of the mighty is heard: “You are my son.” God claims Jesus officially here. He is not of the family of Joseph as supposed (Mk 6:3) and never was but he is of the family of God. 
This is, in a strange way, Mark’s version of the birth story. That story, quaint as it might be, is not relevant to Mark. What is relevant is the establishment of paternity, and that in olden days was established by the words of the father who acknowledged the child. 
This also means that Jesus has a family that is as yet unseen. James, Jose, Judas, and Simon (6:3) are not his family even though they think they are and attempt to take responsibility for him (3:32) No, the real brothers and sisters of Jesus are: “Those who do the will of God.” (3:35) There should be no surprise here. A child is expected to assent to and execute the will of his father speedily. Why should the children of God be different. 
More than that: After Jesus’ baptism it is clear who he is and who will “contend with him at the gate.” (Job 31:21; Ps 127:5) It is God and the whole heavenly host. This is shown immediately. As soon as Jesus is baptized and claimed, he is sent to the wilderness, the wild places, to do battle with the tempter and the forces of evil. He goes there, it would seem, with no preparation or companions to help him do battle. The text however, makes it clear that the heavenly hosts are with him and on his side as he does battle with these forces. Wherever he might roam or go to, these will be at his side and contend with him if the situation demands that the will of God be asserted. Along with them will be those who, though they be of earth, do the same will of the father. 
That means, it would seem, that the cross of Christ is not a human achievement brought on by the cunning of the sadducees and the might of Rome, but a deliberate act of God to permit it to happen. Certainly the forces of heaven could have intervened but were told to stand down. (Jn 19:11; Jn 18:36) 
It is pointed out now and again that this baptism of John is not Christian baptism as it is not baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the Holy Spirt makes an appearance and Christian Baptism certainly makes the point that: “By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.” (Titus 3 quoted from the Small Catechism of Martin Luther) As Luther would further say: 
“It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Yet also: 
“[Baptism] signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”

So, certainly baptism prior to Christ’s resurrection is not Christian baptism. But, part of what is happening here at the Baptism of Jesus ought also be considered part of the baptism of you and I, specifically, the assertion by God that we are now part of the family of heaven. That claim is maybe an ambiguous one in our times as we interpret family differently from the people of biblical times but the claim is nonetheless real. In specific it would entail total allegiance and obedience to God. Further, keeping with the nature of family in ancient time, it would mean solidarity with our brothers and sisters and also faith that the forces of church and heaven will contend on our side in this world against  the tempter and the forces of evil.  
Allegiance, obedience, solidarity, and Faith. Maybe the outcomes: Victory over evil and Resurrection ought to be mentioned as well, yet the latter does not come without an unappreciated last and 7th one: self sacrifice even unto death. But as a whole these seven parts (I attach no significance to the number)  of the claim of God on us do describe baptized life. They also might ask us embarrassing questions: Have we paid any attention to them or are we living out of subtle allegiances to other powers, obedience to no one but ourselves, solidarity only to those that suit us right now, faith only in situations we can predict the outcome for reasonably well, victory witnessed only as spectators, resurrection merely as a concept we have going for us (thank you Bill Murray) and self sacrifice left merely to Jesus? Maybe we even have gotten to the place where we deny that a battle is even going on that might require all these parts of God’s claim on us.

If so, shame on us. Yet, as far as we are Lutherans, we continue to welcome newly baptized with the words: “We welcome you into the Lord’s family.” Those words need to mean something and not just: “Nice to meet you.”