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.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Some Thoughts on Mark 8:27-38

I will walk in the presence of the LORD in the land of the living. — Psalm 116:8
Today’s assigned Gospel is just a little further down the road from the healing stories we considered last Sunday. Then we read two healings in Gentile territory as well as another story of Jesus’ compassion in feeding, this time a gentile, multitude. It does not happen without being noticed by the Pharisees. They come to ask a sign from heaven, presumably as confirmation that he was the Messiah and therefore authorized to work these miracle by heaven rather than the nether places, though they have already decided in chapter 3 that they need to kill him. The Gentiles have said: “He does all things well.” A subtle hint that the gentiles realize that a messiah force is at work in Jesus.
The interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees is very brief. No sign will be given this generation. And with that he departs from them. The discussion in the boat that follows suggests that he is somehow done with them. One is to beware of their “leaven,” something that the disciples seem to misunderstand badly. His retort to them is somewhat harsh. The disciples, it seems, are to realize that his feeding Jew and Gentile alike, with leftover in quantities of 12 and 7, biblical numbers, was to suggest to them what was afoot. Jew and Gentile are gathering around him with miraculous results. What does one make of this?
One of the stranger episodes in Mark follows. A blind man approaches Jesus and the disciples. He is blind. Jesus
goes through the ritual things of healing him and then asks him what he sees. “I see people, they look like trees walking around,” is the answer. Jesus touches him again and then he sees normally as if to indicate to the disciples around him that it takes more than a flash to be able to “see” but that it takes a process to understand correctly.
After all this we are now on the road to Ceserea Philippi. The question is asked: Who do you say I am. It is now decision time. Who do you say that Jesus is? The disciples do what comes natural and list what they have heard said about him. No, it is not enough to say what they have heard. They must disclose who they think he is.
The answer will have consequences. If he is the Son of the Most High God, then what he commands is the command of the God of Abraham and Moses and there is suddenly no longer any argument or discussion. His word is the word from the almighty and there is no debate. When he says: Leave your life behind and follow me if you are with me, then there is no debate. Once any of us admit to ourselves and say to him you are the Messiah, there is a break in life, there is a change in orientation, there may well be change in life and a separation from old acquaintances, places and even family. The latter would have been a drastic separation in the 1st century as family was all one had to fall back on in tough times or trouble.
The matter will come up again in the 10th chapter when the rich young man approaches Jesus. By that time the disciples have made a transition, they have left everything to follow him. (10:28) Between today’s reading and the rich young
man episode stands an important event: The Transfiguration which is the content of chapter 9. It has been speculated now and again by scholars that the Transfiguration sounds suspiciously like a misplaced post Resurrection event. Speculation is just that. But, the Transfiguration does have its effect on the disciples. They will no longer presume to tell Jesus how his mission will be carried out. Two more predictions of his crucifixion will come. They no longer question it. Instead they begin to make arrangements who they will carry on after his death. However, they do not yet understand Resurrection. Mark is happy to report the Resurrection but leaves the question: “How did the disciples deal with it,” quite open. All Gospel long, Jesus tells people not to tell of their experiences with him and they immediately go and tell everyone. When the women find the empty tomb however and the man dressed in white telling them to tell the disciples, they will run away and tell no one.
I know I am making a large sweep through the entirety of the Gospel of Mark here but it is instructive. In John’s Gospel 2 weeks ago we had many leave Jesus and only a few remained. It was decision time then as well. There, Peter confesses that Jesus has the words of eternal life, here he recognizes the Christ, but he has problems living with his own confession as is seen in his attempt to tell the Messiah how to do his mission.
Called, enlightened, converted, sanctified, glorified. That is the sequence of Christian life posed by 20th century Swedish Lutheran Bishop Bo Giertz whom one might know from his book “The Hammer of God.” Giertz seems to have
realized that there really is no such thing as a flash “conversion.” It is preceded by a sense of fascination that calls one to the place where one learns, where one is enlightened about Christ. A moment comes, when those two elements of Christian life become enough and the point is reached to say: “He is the Christ, my Lord, and I will follow.” It is at that point that old life is left behind and a new one is forged but all the while one is still being led and changed and taught in holiness since one has still a lot to learn. Finally, it is ones privilege to see the the glory of the resurrection of the flesh.
The danger of such schemes is that once proposed, everyone will immediately try to plot their place and progress in it as if on a scale. The life of the disciples suggests that it is a bit more complicated and the chapters that follow our text spell that out.
But today we hear really a conversion story. Peter is converted as are all those who look and see and say: He is the Son of God. Could rejection of the Son and therefor of God also follow? Yes, witness the Pharisees and Judas. Conversion is never complete until it is followed by following him, meaning, obeying and listening to him. (9:7)
We tend to get stuck on denying and picking up a cross when we read Jesus’ reply to Peter, but is not following Jesus the cause of both of those? How much obedience to Christ are we actually rendering? Are we working out our
sanctification in fear and trembling, meaning we seek to know and follow His will?

Greek for Mark 8: 27-38 revised

Greek Study Mark 8:27-38

v27 Καισαρειας (α) gen. "[the villages] around Caesarea [Philippi]" genitive is idiomatic "the villages located in the region around the town of Caesarea Philippi." The genitive "of Philip" named after Philip the tetrarch, was added to distinguish it from the coastal town of Caesarea (called Maritime).
επηρωτα (επερωταω) imperf. "he asked" – a disciple would normally ask questions of his Rabbi, not the other way around.
οι ανθρωποι (ος) "people" – men - used in a general sense, "people".

v28 οι...λογεντες (λεγω) pres. part. "-" - the ones (some are) saying, redundant. 
Ιωαννην τον βαπτιστην acc. "[some say] John the Baptist"
των προφητων (ης ου) gen. "[one] of the prophets"

v29 υμεις pro. "[what about] you" - emphatic by position in Greek- But you, who do you?
συ "you [are]" - emphatic ο χριστος "the Christ" - an historic present.

v30 επετιμησεν (επιτιμαω) aor. "Jesus warned [them]" - the word means "to rebuke". 

v31 διδασκειν (διδασκω) pres. inf. "[and he began] to teach" - This form of words is used to break from the proceeding episode and introduce a new point. 
παθειν (πασχω) aor. act. inf. "suffer[many things]" - This infinitive, along with "to be rejected" and "to be killed" together serve as the subject of the verb "is necessary."
αποδοκιμασθηναι (αποδοκιμαζω) aor. pas. inf. "rejected" as above. Note Mark lists three groups involved in Jesus' humiliation, but the Pharisees, are not mentioned!  This may imply that this particular saying was not part of Mark’s ‘narrative” – but rather part of the textus receptus.
αποκτανθηναι (αποκτεινω) aor. pas. inf. "he must be to be killed". In a reading back of tradition, the word crucifixion would be used, but Mark is preserving the original sense from the apostolic oral tradition.
αναστηναι (ανιστημι) aor. pas. inf. "rise" - a theological passive, i.e. God raises. 

v32 ελαλει (λαλεω) imperf. "he spoke" παρρησια (α) dat. "plainly" –Jesus told his disciples about his coming death and resurrection openly.
προσλαβομενος (προσλαμβανω) aor. part. "took [him] aside" Why take Jesus aside?
επιτιμαν (επιταμαω) inf. "to rebuke" often used of the casting out of a demon, so quite a strong phrase, i.e. Peter wants to set Jesus straight.

v33 επιστραφεις (επιστρεφω) aor. pas. part. "when [Jesus] turned [and looked at his disciples]" - a public statement requires a public admonition. 
επετιμησεν (επιτιμαω) aor. "he rebuked"
οπισω + gen. "[get] behind [me]" - Jesus is telling Peter to accept his authority.
σατανα (ας) "Satan" - harsh, although Peter has unwittingly promoted the temptation that the kingdom can come by means other than suffering, a temptation Jesus faces.
ου φρονεις (φρονεω) "you do not have in mind" idiom; “you’re not thinking straight”.
του θεου (ος) gen. "of God" - genitive is adjectival, possessive, "the things that belong t o God", or ablative "that originate from God."

v34 προσκαλεσαμενος (προσκαλεω) aor. mid. part. "then he called [the crowd] to [him]" – summoned. It is important to note Jesus calls the crowd to him while the disciples tag along. The point is Jesus is now speaking to the crowd AND the disciples; Jesus is calling everyone to discipleship rather than discipleship - the focus remains on Jesus and his suffering, not the suffering of disciples.
ακολουθειν (ακολουθεω) pres. inf. "[would] come" -[willed] to follow. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "willed".
οπισω + gen. "after [me]" - Spacial.
απαρνησασθω (απαρνεομαι) aor. imp. "he must deny [himself]" - renounce. The aorist, as with "take up", is prior to the durative present "follow me." The word is commonly taken to mean self-denial but may mean the shame of accepting a suffering messiah as such acceptance prompts confrontation with (not renunciation of) the world.
αρατω (αιρω) aor. imp. "take up" It is hard not to see the cross in this, although here such an image would conjure up a criminal shamed in the presence of the public. To this point Jesus has not said how he will be "killed" so rather than reflecting his suffering, the image may simply illustrate the shame involved in accepting a suffering messiah.
ακολουθειτω (ακολουθεω) pres. imp. "follow" as a disciple.

v35 θελη (θελω) subj. "wishes" - the person who wants to protect their standing will find they have lost meaning
σωσαι (σωζω) inf. "save" lit. heal.
ψυξην (η) "life" – identity, the Greek sense "soul" is not intended either here or elsewhere . The Hebrew sense of the word means “whole self”, or "human being."
απολεσει (απολλυμι) fut. ind. act. "will lose" – ruin or destroy.... i.e. whoever makes the decision to follow Jesus will grasp, live, experience real, authentic life. 
του ευαγγελιου (ος) gen. "the gospel" – the demand for loyalty is to both Jesus and his  message.

v36 ωφελει (ωφελεω) pres. "good is it for" - benefit. 
ζημωθηναι (ζημιοω) inf. "forfeit" - confiscate.
την ψυχην (η) "life" - as above.

v37 δοι (διδωμι) aor. subj. "give" – a deliberative subjunctive.
ανταλλαγμα (α ατος) "in exchange" in redemption for.
της ψυχης (η) gen. "for [his] soul" - genitive is adverbial; "what could a person give that would be a fair recompense for their life?"

v38 επαισχυνθη/ (επαισχυνομαι) aor. pas. subj. "is ashamed" - in the sense of ashamed to  acknowledge a relationship. The shame here is real, the social pressure to deny a  suffering Messiah and his teachings.

τη μοιχαλιδι adj. "adulterous [and sinful generation]" - the religious meaning is  "godless/apostate /disloyal".