Rev. Jeff Hutcheson-
In 66 C.E., about 35 years after Jesus was put to death, a rebellion broke about against Rome from some of the Jews in Palestine. There were divisions even among the Jews as to whether or not to get involved in this war. Yet the war grew. Ultimately, thousands fully trained Roman foot soldiers stormed Jerusalem. They decimated the city. Even in the temple, they entered the holy of holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. They looted the treasures. They set the temple a blaze and watched it burn to the ground, worshipping their gods as it burned. The center of their lives and their world was decimated. People were homeless, and starving. Historians report that occupying soldiers robbed and raped and massacred many Jews.
Scholars believe that Mark wrote near the end of that Jerusalem war. Mark is writing this gospel having lived through these events, having survived this time. He is writing to a desperate and desolate people struggling to even have hope. Mark’s gospel proclaims that Jesus is more than a man from Nazareth, more than a carpenter. Jesus is God with us.
Alexander Shaia promotes that the gospel of Mark is our spiritual guide that shows us “how do we move through suffering?” Mark is written to give hope to the followers then and now with the blessed assurance that no matter how bleak, how desolate life becomes, we are never alone. God is with us.
Remember a painful time when your life was bleak and you felt as if your world had fallen apart, and then you experienced the presence of Christ. Where were you? What events happened? How did know Christ was present? Did that give you hope?
Share your stories with another in your church and listen to theirs.
Some resources consulted for the history of the Gospel of Mark:
“The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics” by Elaine Pagels; Vintage Books, 1995
“Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV- Year B”- Walter Brueggemann; Charles Cousar, Beverly R. Gaventa; James D Newsome; Westminster-John Knox Press. 1993
“Mark” from the Interpretation: A Bible-Commenary for Teaching and Preaching: Lamar Williamson, Jr. ; John Knox Press, 1983
“Heart and Mind: The Four Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation” by Alexander John Shaia with Michelle L Gaugy; Mosaic Press 2013