Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mark 1:32-34

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.  (Mark 1:32-34)


v32

οψίας δε γενομένης ότε έδυ ο ήλιος έφερον προς αυτόν πάντας τους κακώς έχοντας και τους δαιμονιζομένους  (GNT)
And evening having become, when [3went down 1the 2sun], they brought to him all the ones [2illnesses 1having], and the ones being demon-possessed. (AB)

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. (ESV)

The Sabbath [Saturday] was over at sundown [roughly 6:00pm, or so].  Word of what had happened in the Synagogue this morning has already gotten around the whole city, and now the people have gathered outside of Peter's house.  There was a great number of sick and demon-possessed people, as well as those that carried or brought them.

I find it interesting that a distinction was made between the sick and those possessed by demons.  In modern secular medicine, where any aspect of the supernatural is dismissed, there is no distinction made between these two.  Any one who might exhibit the signs of demon possession today would be written off as mentally or psychologically ill.

v33:

και η πόλις όλη επισυνηγμένη ην προς την θύραν  (GNT)
And the [2city 1entire] being assembled was at the door. (AB)

And the whole city was gathered together at the door.  (ESV)
[While Matthew 8:14-17 and Luke 4:38-41 tell this story, they make no mention of this detail.  If we remember that Mark is most likely telling "Peter's gospel", then this is most likely a detail that Peter would have thrown in during his telling, recalling the great crown outside the door of his house.]

This would have been something to see.  Mark tells us that the whole (or entire) city was outside the door?  Really?  The whole city?  Albert Barnes comments, "A great part of the city; a great multitude from the city."  John Gill comments, "a very great number of them at least".

Going to the Greek:
  • όλη = ὅλος [holos]
  • adjective; “whole” or “all”, complete (in extent, amount, time or degree)
We can just say that Mark is employing hyperbole here.  Don Closson, of Probe Ministries, mentions this in his article on Hermeneutics,
"Now, it would be helpful to identify the use of figurative language in the passage. Various forms of Hebrew poetry, simile, metaphor, and hyperbole need to be recognized if the reader is to understand the passage's meaning. Hyperbole, for example, uses exaggeration to make a point. John says that the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written if everything about Jesus's life was written down (John 21:25). John is using figurative speech. His point is that there were many things that Jesus did that weren't recorded."
Furthermore, the JFB Bible Commentary comments on this verse: "This bespeaks the presence of an eye-witness, and is one of those lively examples of word-painting so frequent in this Gospel." (Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871)


Alright, it was a lot of people.  I try to imagine them, all gathered outside like some of the pictures I've seen on TV of all of those people waiting for the humanitarian food deliveries, or for the missionary doctors to make it around to their section. 



They probably gathered pretty quickly too, as they'd all waiting until the end of the Sabbath, then sprang out of their houses, hurrying to get there as quickly as possible.




And imagine what those in the house must have thought... looking out the window as more and more people gathered outside.  Did the four disciples in the house with Jesus grasp what was being displayed here?  Do we dare make the application to our day?  People today "come to Jesus" seeking to have their needs met.  The problem is that what we perceive our "needs" to be and our true needs are almost always worlds apart.  The phrase "felt needs" is a little overused today, but all the same, seeking to have our "felt needs" met is superficial and is not what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about.  Are we exploiting Jesus for our own gain?  Are we like this crowd, gathering in the church buildings, looking for a quick healing and then 'away we go'?

v34:

και εθεράπευσε πολλούς κακώς έχοντας ποικίλαις νόσοις και δαιμόνια πολλά εξέβαλε και ουκ ήφιε λαλείν τα δαιμόνια ότι ήδεισαν αυτόν  (GNT)
And he cured many [2illnesses 1having] of various diseases, and [2demons 1many] he cast out; and he did not allow [3to speak 1the 2demons], for they knew him. (AB)

And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (ESV)
Many?  Not "all"?  I don't believe this is meant in an exclusionary aspect, but rather stressing that it was not only a few that were healed.  All that came were healed.  In a parallel passage in Luke, it says that He healed "every one of them".
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. (Luke 4:40) [emphasis mine]
Then we read about Jesus not allowing the demons to speak again.  We explored this a bit in Mark 1:25 and came to understand more about what the "unclean spirit" is and how Jesus' command to "be quiet" and "come out" were entirely different from anything the people had seen thus far.  However, I failed to really address the question about why He didn't want them to speak.

Therefore, I immediately go to Acts 16:
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.
She followed Paul and us, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation."
And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.  (Acts 16:16-18)
In this passage we read about a girl possessed by a spirit - a demon- and as we've read in Mark, the demons know who the Christ is, and they know those that belong to Him.  The proclamation of this girl was technically true, but to have the work of the Apostles validated by demons (or one in contact with demonic forces) is not in accordance with the work of the Holy Spirit.  This is still a problem today with some groups affirming Jesus Christ, while rejecting certain elements of orthodox Christianity (or adding to it in the form of asserting tradition to be equal to the Word of God).

Likewise, when Jesus commands the demons to "be quiet", His meaning is to ensure that His ministry is not affirmed by demons or associated with their deception in any way.  This is not to suggest that what they asserted was not true (James 2:19), but this is one of the most effective lead-ins to deception - ever.  Hence, the reason so many people get swept into cults and heresy: there's just enough truth to get you to come back, and the error is so subtle that it's difficult to separate truth from fiction.  Allowing the demons to affirm Him as the Christ would have been counter to His ministry on earth.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mark 1:29-31


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And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.


Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.


And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
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v29:
Καὶ εὐθέως ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς ἐξελθόντες ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος καὶ ᾿Ανδρέου μετὰ ᾿Ιακώβου καὶ ᾿Ιωάννου. (GNT)
And immediately from out of the synagogue having gone forth, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (AB)
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (ESV)

This was Simon-Peter's & Andrew's house (it's later referred to in Mark 8:14 as just "Peter's house") in Capernaum, though they are originally from Bethsaida (John 1:44).  I was curious about the geography at this point.  I found the above map and tried to get some sense of the proximity of the two towns.  

Some tidbits of trivia:  Bethsaida means "house of fishing" in Hebrew; Capernaum would have been "Kefar Nahum" in Hebrew, and it was a small port town on the road between the Mediterranean Sea and Damascus in Syria.

v30:
ἡ δε πενθερὰ Σίμωνος κατέκειτο πυρέσσουσα. καὶ εὐθέως λέγουσιν αὐτῷ περὶ αὐτῆς. (GNT)
And the mother-in-law of Simon was reclining in a fever; and immediately they speak to him concerning her. (AB)
Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. (ESV)
Mother-in-law = Peter was married.  Paul makes mention of this in 1 Corinthians 9:5. 
I'll try to limit my comments about this: All of Scripture holds marriage in the highest esteem.  Marriage between one man and one woman is an image of the union of the Bridegroom (Christ) and His Bride (the Church); it has been that way since the Garden, and the New Testament continues to uphold it.  True, Paul does make mention of those gifted with "singleness", but that is the exception.  When we deny the God-given gift of the union of a man and his wife, we set ourselves up for temptation and sin.  Vows of celibacy are a man-made religious work - not a biblical mandate.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

I'm supposing that since they just saw Jesus expel a demon from the man in the synagogue, they must figure something like a fever should be within His means.  Or did they immediately tell Jesus about her fever because they didn't want Him to be exposed to whatever ailed her?  Or maybe because they wanted to account for her absence?  Since the next verse has her serving them, maybe they just needed some help in the kitchen.  But if Peter is married, his wife would have been around, right?  So, it must have just been because she was ill and they knew Jesus could heal her.


v31:
καὶ προσελθὼν ἤγειρεν αὐτὴν κρατήσας τῆς χειρός αὐτῆς, καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτὴν ὁ πυρετός εὐθέως, καὶ διηκόνει αὐτοῖς. (GNT)
And having come forward he raised her, holding her hand; and [4left 5her 1the 2fever 3immediately], and she served them. (AB)
And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. (ESV)
He took her by the hand... and lifted her up... and the fever left her immediately.  Like this, He too takes us by the hand, lifts us up from our helpless state, and immediately we are healed.  Then see what she does in return, to show her gratitude to her Healer?  She serves.  And we should not suppose that it was begrudgingly, or out of some sense of duty or religion - but graciously and in love.