Proper 28B (OT 33)
Transgender Day of Remembrance Resources
Our last bit of Mark for quite some time. Gospel readings will be mostly Luke and John for the next year.
Ends on a high note before Christ the King Sunday and Advent.
Apocalyptic Timeline from PBS
A genre of ancient Jewish writing that must be understood in its context.
Pessimistic view of history
Anticipation of the end of the world in some great imminent crisis (often in light of current crisis)
Dualistic understanding of human existence.
Visions of cosmic upheaval - that the material world has a parallel spiritual world, which has great impact upon the material. (Lamar Williamson, Interpretation: Mark, p. 235)
“Much of what is stated here is apocalyptic boilerplate. Jewish apocalyptic literature had been working with such themes, imagery, and topoi for several centuries leading up to the time of Jesus and Mark in the first century. Conservative biblical literalists, who look for the specific fulfillment of Jesus' prophecies in our modern age, completely misunderstand this genre of literature.” Micah Kiel, Working Preacher.
“In a nutshell, apocalyptic literature stems from a worldview that believes that everything happening on earth represents and correlates with a larger, heavenly struggle between good and evil. It therefore reads into earthly events cosmic significance and anticipates future events on earth in light of the coming battle between the forces of God and the devil. Hence, it often tries to make sense of current events and experiences by casting them in a larger, cosmic framework and in this way give comfort to people who are currently suffering or being oppressed.” David Lose, Working Preacher
Jesus’ teaching is set in context of the destruction of the Temple, which probably already happened when Gospel of Mark is written.
Apocalyptic thought arises largely out of current disaster, in this case the destruction of the Temple sent the author of Gospel to explain why such a thing occurred.
Verse by Verse
“Look what large stones and what large buildings” - the disciples are amazed at the physical beauty and are ignorant of the underlying corruption that Jesus has been exposing since his arrival in Jerusalem.
“All will be thrown down” - Full condemnation of the social-religious structure which exploits the poor for its own gain. Also the primary evidence used against him at his trial and crucifixion.
Mount of Olives - the apocalyptic site of the arrival of the Messiah - after Jerusalem is laid to waste - the Messiah will arrive on the Mount of Olives
Zechariah 14:2-4: 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.4 On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley;
Just as Jesus sat in judgement of the scribes last week (Mark 12:41), not Jesus sits in judgement of the whole social-cultural-religious structures which oppress the least of these
“Give us a sign” - the disciples echo the Pharisees (8:11-12), they have missed the point - the condemnation of those who exploit the poor. Jesus, like earlier (Mark 8:15) warns the disciples not to be led astray
v. 6-8 - Jesus is urging his disciples not to give into the violent revolts in defense of the temple. Wars, famines, earthquakes - these are all coming, but don’t give into them. Don’t take part in the revolt. Stay faithful: non-violent, caring for the least of these, embodying love. (Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man)
Meaning for original readers
The events Jesus described are at the very least recent memory, and there are many explanations as to why this is happening. Many thought these were signs of the end, but Jesus is in fact saying otherwise.
50 CE - great famine in Palestine
61-62 CE Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions which destroyed Lodicia and Pompei
67 CE Rome’s armies were faltering, impending Parthian invasion (A dispute between Rome’s Pompey and the Parthian King Phraates III because Pompey refused to acknowledge Phraates as “King of Kings”)
Contrary to popular expectations in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic circles, war and catastrophe, persecution, and the fall of Jerusalem and desecration of the Temple were not sure signs of the end of the world. Though these things had just occurred, ‘the end is not yet.’ The end of history is rather to be associated with ‘the coming of the Son of Man in glory...The intention of the text is therefore to call the followers of Jesus to hope for the coming of the Son of Man.” (Williamson, Emphasis added)
Apocalyptic literature is still very popular. People love “end of the world” stories. This chapter of Mark helps us keep in balance between those that say “the end of the world is near,” which Jesus proclaims is not in our hands, and those that claim there is God is not involved in the world.
“If Mark 13 offers a correctives to the apocalyptic enthusiasm on the one hand, it addresses a challenge to jaded skepticism on the other. To planners who face the future with only such guides as actuarial tables and economic indicators, this chapter announces God’s intervention in history to judge and to save.” (Williamson, emphasis added)
Thoughts and Questions
Williamson points to three ways that we should respond to Jesus call to “watch”
Stress the urgency of “Watch.” We are to keep watch for this is literally coming soon. This stresses the urgency of an immediate hope. This interpretation was particularly helpful in times of great tragedy or overwhelming institutional oppression. Jesus seems to be calling out corrupt institutions as ‘about to fall.’
When this is co-opted however, by a traditional ruling class, it can lead to a a troubling triumphalism and voyeurism in the coming “they’ll get theirs” attitude of those who love the Left Behind theology.
Rationalize future hope in terms of present pragmatism. The need to keep watch instills a desire to do what’s right for what is to come.
Like the watchers on the wall of “Game of Thrones.” Their sense of duty and mission comes from a sense of prolonged responsibility for generations to come.
Demythologize the language to understand the coming as the realization of the rule of God in one’s own experience. The interpretation of the “Watch” is inward - to be watchful is to be mindful of God’s presence in one’s own life. Sometimes Christ’s presence is after a time of trial, or in tragedy, or in the daily mundaneness of life. The coming of the Son of Man is when all are watchful for not the own cares, but for the needs of others.
Our last time with Hebrews.
The parenthetical piece quotes Jeremiah:31:33-34
The new covenant - The essential understanding of who Jesus was is found in this interpretation of Jeremiah 31. The new covenant is not replacing the old covenant. It is a different kind of covenant, one that is made with hearts, not with law.
The Instruction will be ‘engraved on their heart’ instead of engraved on stone.
Comes in a section of Jeremiah known as “The Comfort Scroll,” a part of prophecy that held onto the promise of rebuilding the Temple and the people.
Jesus is the new covenant.
The rhetorical climax of the letter. All of the talk about Jesus as the High Priest, and the nature of sacrifice leads to this point.
One more swipe at how the Jesus’ High Priesthood is superior.
One sacrifice for all times
Sat down at the right hand of God
Waits for the culmination of history.
Enemies at his feet
The people made perfect and holy
The new covenant is how this perfection is going to take place.
Jesus’ covenant written on hearts, not stone
No longer need sin offering over and over again because the new covenant is permanent and perfect.
Followers of Christ can have confidence
“The ‘confidence’ believers have refers to the boldness of Christians, a boldness that enables them to act in ways that will seem strange, even incomprehensible, to the outside world.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 591). The boldness allows them to “enter the sanctuary” or even “pass by the veil,” which otherwise would be beyond bold.
The last ‘therefore’ is found in verse 22.
Let's hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable.
Despite reports to the contrary, the washing and offering is permanent.
We hold onto Jesus because he is reliable.
Let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds.
Care for one another
Community is contagious
When one cares for another, they are compelled to care for another...
Don't stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. Don't stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.
“We come to the true and heavenly sanctuary to engage in pure and eternal worship by gathering with other Christians in ordinary sanctuaries for prayers and hymns, preaching and blessings (Thomas Long, Interpretation: Hebrews, p. 107)
“In other words, Christian worship is an eschatological event: It is a participation here and now in the eternal praises of God, a foretaste of the approaching victory of God.” (Thomas Long, Interpretation: Hebrews, p. 107)
thoughts and questions
All of the high-minded theological stuff about Jesus as High Priest and the the nature of sacrifice is boiled down to hope, kindness, and fellowship.
Exhortation to gather in worship feels like it may ring hollow - especially done by a preacher who has everything to gain from increased worship attendance. Yet this is still part of the mark of following Christ. It is all well and good to say you can “meet God in nature,” but it’s not just about you meeting God. Being separated from the community of God’s people means that you are separated from God.
Be very attentive to those in your congregation who have lost a child, are unable to have children or have more children - this may really going to hit them hard
Tricky- what does this really have to do with the Gospel? Perhaps Daniel would be better suited for the “Little Apocalypse” of Mark 13.
Apocalyptic literature is as much about hope as it is about fear- Hope that the way things are is not always how they will be
Hannah is the wife of Elkanah who has another wife, Peninah
Son = security, if Elkanah dies Hannah is left with nothing
This also sets the stage for her song in Samuel 2 (later sung by Mary when she hears that she will give birth to Jesus)
Hope in the midst of grief- things are not the way they should be
“Persecuted” by everyone else in the story: God, Peninah, Elkanah and Eli
She has no one to comfort her (kind of like Job)
Until you have stood for years knocking at a locked door, your knuckles bleeding, you do not really know what prayer is
remains in prayer
Holiness mistaken as drunkenness
Perhaps the assumption that she must have done something wrong in order to be barren
Lung cancer vs breast cancer
Rebukes before he asks her need - he does not know what she is going through
“Pray like there is no one watching”
Steadfast love of God endures forever
God delivers, but not always - name this inconsistency and speak to it - what happens when our prayers are not answered and we are left knocking at the closed door
Perhaps we need a wider perspective (like Elkanah tries to provide: Am I not worth more than 10 sons- easy to say when he has sons from his other wife)
Samuel does not mean I asked, but rather “God hears”
Thoughts and Questions
How do we handle hopelessness? Can we rest in the tension without assuming (like Eli), Brushing off (like Elkanah) or holding ourselves above (like Peninah)
Simple dismissing someone else’s suffering without getting to know them or try to “fix” them is not helpful. Simply telling the addict to stop or the depressed or grief stricken person to be happy is not helpful. What would it mean to enter into prayer for and with that person without a preconceived result?
How often do we let what other people think influence our prayer? Grace at home but not when we are out? Instead of being a witness to thankfulness and belief we fear what others may think
Also can be taken out of context as well as in “Look at me everyone! I’m praying! See how holy I am!” - Jesus clearly rejects this kind of prayer
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.