It’s Not About the Teacher

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus repeatedly emphasizes the will of his Father in Deuteronomy, that any prophet or worker of miracles who seduces people from “the way (ὁδός) in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk,” should be ignored, or worse, put to death. Along these lines, in the story of Mark, miracles are given for the teaching; the teaching is not given for miracles. When signs and healings become the focus (as is common among contemporary Christians) we lose focus on the mission of Jesus: to walk on the path and to sow the seed of his Father’s teaching, as commanded. In doing so, we obstruct the teaching, even as we fawn over the teacher, crying “Lord, Lord!” But as Jesus demonstrates and the apostles will eventually struggle to understand, it’s not about the teacher. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 6:7-13.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5327083/TBAL%20Episode%20161.mp3

Episode 161 Mark 6:7-13; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Wepa” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Familiarity Breeds Contempt


When people are taught to change their behaviors or to admit their shortcomings, they use whatever means available to transfer blame for their sins to someone else. Almost always, they lash out against the messenger, pointing to the hypocrisy of their teacher or explaining how a person’s identity invalidates the message. In doing so, they shift everyone’s attention away from the elephant in the room: the integrity of the message itself. Can a man accuse a woman of chauvinism? Can a German accuse a Jew of racism? Can a prophet teach his biological elders? Yes. Definitely. But we claim otherwise to avoid accountability. The problem is amplified when people believe they own the message or consider themselves familiar with its content. We’ve all met the Christian who “already knows” what the Bible says. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus comes face to face with this person “in his hometown, among his own relatives and in his own household.” Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 6:1-6.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5289474/TBAL%20Episode%20160.mp3

Episode 160 Mark 6:1-6; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Laser Groove” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Give Her Something to Eat

Self-righteousness is dangerous. When people who believe they are “right” apply rules to each other, even rules that were meant to protect us become instruments of abuse, cruelty and exploitation. You need look no further than the barbarity of Twitter mobs—liberal or conservative—to understand this dynamic. For politicians, sooner or later, this lack of humility results in civil strife. For clergy and religious teachers, it leads to a kind of apostasy, in this case, an outcome of teaching that renounces the teaching of the Bible. The Torah was given to show each of us that our behaviors are unclean. Yet, somehow, we always manage to transfer this shame from our behaviors to the person (or persons) of our neighbor. Our neighbor, like the wild man exiled to the Gerasene graveyard, or the woman with a flow of blood, is eventually deemed unclean. This is the sin. This is the apostasy. This is the very thing the Law was given to correct. Have you never heard what was written? The Lord said to Peter, “What God has made clean, you must not call unclean.” (Acts 10:15) And again, what Peter himself proclaimed: “God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 5:21-43.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5250497/TBAL%20Episode%20159.mp3

Episode 159 Mark 5:21-43; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Bittersweet” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

The First Disciple

When Jesus permitted the unclean spirits to leave the Gerasene, he demonstrated two things: not only his ability to control a man whom no one could subdue, but his total power over Caesar’s legion. You had better believe everyone was terrified by the drowning of the swine, because when you mess with Caesar’s immutable power, you undermine the stability of the country. By freeing the demon possessed man, Jesus is threatening both their political security and their material wealth. It’s no wonder they asked “him” to leave; but the question is, which “him?” Who asked whom to leave and who asked whom to stay and why? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 5: 14-20.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5211691/TBAL%20Episode%20158.mp3

Episode 158 Mark 5:14-20; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Mountain Emperor” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Why Are You Bowing?

When it comes to bowing, our culture is schizophrenic. We teach people not to bow down to others or to let others tell us what to do, yet we bow down all the time. We bow to men of wealth; we bow to people and things of beauty; we bow to eloquent speech; worst of all, we bow to power: military power, economic power, and individual power. When Jesus entered the country of the Gerasenes, he encountered a man with the same brand of schizophrenia. On the one hand, he was a man who bowed to no one; a man who could not be controlled or subdued, “not even with a chain.” No one could tell the Gerasene what to do. He was exactly the kind of man our culture applauds. Yet, when Jesus stepped off the boat, this same man (rather, the unclean teaching controlling him) groveled at the feet of Jesus. Why? Not because he placed all his trust in the Lord’s seed, but because–like everyone else in Mark–he was afraid of Jesus’ worldly might. Like the people who marveled at Jesus’ miracles; like the fearful disciples; the Gerasene was impressed with the wrong thing. So he bowed to Jesus the way a sycophant bows to Silicon Valley.

The letters of St. Paul teach us that everyone has to bow down. Even Jesus will eventually bow to Pontius Pilate. In Mark’s gospel, the question is not “should I bow,” but, “why are you bowing?” Do you grovel before Jesus because of the teaching he proclaims, or are you bowing to something else? Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 5:1-13.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5168817/TBAL%20Episode%20157.mp3

Episode 157 Mark 5:1-13; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “March of the Spoons” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Why Are You Afraid?

Like the prophet Jonah, Jesus was sent to sow the seed of God’s teaching on other soil. Unlike Jonah, Jesus trusted God’s will, carrying out his Father’s instruction without hesitation or the slightest hint of rebellion. So you can imagine the Lord’s frustration, when at the first hint of danger, the disciples cower from God’s mission.

“The floods,” David cried, “have lifted up, O Lord! The flood have lifted up their voice!”

“But thy testimonies,” cower the disciples, “are not confirmed! Do you not care that we are perishing?”

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 4: 35-41.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5126626/TBAL%20Episode%20156.mp3

Episode 156 Mark 4:35-41; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Guess Who” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Like a Mustard Seed

A farmer sows seed because he wants security. He wants to know that he will have enough money and food in storage to secure his family until the next season. This understanding of farming is anti-Scriptural. In the Book of the Twelve, we are repeatedly warned that man’s lust for security is the cause of human suffering. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus assigns new meaning to the act of sowing seed. Where a human farmer sows for himself under the illusion of control, Jesus sows for others at his own peril, under the promise of hope against all hope. Despite all the cruelty, suffering and betrayal in the world; despite the Roman occupation; despite attempts by his own community to shut him up; Jesus does not lose hope, because he places all his trust, not in the work of his own hands, but in the will of his Father, who said, “All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.”” (Ezekiel 17:24) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 4:26-34.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5085203/TBAL%20Episode%20155.mp3

Episode 155 Mark 4:26-34; Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Zanzibar” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

#cursed #afflicted #persecuted #amen

In the Gospel of Mark, the Lord Jesus said, “Whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” (Mark 4:25) In our consumer culture, this verse is almost always taken out of context and assumed to refer to worldly blessings: health, happiness, family, wellbeing and, of course, stuff. But in a passage where ignoring the Bible’s obvious meaning is an unforgivable sin, “so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven” (Mark 4:12) our listeners are cautioned that what is “given” and what is “taken away” pertain not to worldly blessings, but to the wisdom that comes from God. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 4:13-25.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5047971/TBAL%20Episode%20154.mp3

(Episode 154 Mark 4:13-25); Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature (http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature); “Too Cool” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com (http://incompetech.com/)) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/)

It’s Not About the Soil

When hearing the parable of the sower in Mark, few people stop to consider that seeds are embryonic plants. That’s right, the seeds tucked away in a box on your shelf are already pregnant. Not only does the seed contain the instructions needed to make a plant, but also an embryo which can grow into a full plant under proper conditions. In other words, the seed does what the seed does and the soil contributes nothing: it either accepts the seed or rejects it. The soil can’t even control the conditions under which acceptance or rejection are cultivated. The only hope is the seed itself. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 4:1-12.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5015866/TBAL%20Episode%20153.mp3

(Episode 153 Mark 4:1-12); Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Nowhere Land” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/)

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

closed

The proclamation of the forgiveness of sins is integral to the content of the gospel. After all, it was the forgiveness of sins that opened the path for gentiles to become children of the Bible. In the Gospel of Mark, the sharing of this news is the single priority of Jesus Christ–so much so, that Jesus is constantly on the move, teaching and preaching. With this in mind, it seems odd that Jesus would say, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness.” It seems odd, that is, until you realize that Jesus is frustrated with those who willfully oppose his Father’s teaching. You know, that teaching where everyone is forgiven, no matter who they are, where they pray, or who claims them as family. Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 3:28-35.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/4975479/TBAL%20Episode%20152.mp3

(Episode 152 Mark 3:28-35); Subscribe: http: // feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Rocket Power” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/)