GOSPEL OF MARK 2018 08 CH 13, 14


Boring, M. Eugene.  Mark: A Commentary.  Part of the New Testament Library commentary series edited by C.Clifton Black and John T. Carroll.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2006).

Byrne, Brendan.  A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2008).

Collins, Adela Yarbro.  Mark.  Part of the Hermenia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible series edited by Helmut Koester.  (Fortress Press, 2007, Minneapolis MN).

Donahue, S.J., John R. and Daniel J. Harrington, S.J..  The Gospel of Mark.  Part of the Sacra Pagina biblical commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2002).

Duran, Nicole Wilkinson Duran, Teresa Okure, Daniel M. Patte editors.  Mark.  Part of the Texts @ Contexts series edited by Athalya Brenner and Nicole Wilkinson Duran.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011).

France, R.T.  The Gospel of Mark.  Part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary series edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner.  (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 2002).

Harrington, O.P., Wilfrid.  What was Mark At? The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary.  (Columbia Press, Dublin, 2008).

Healy, Mary.  The Gospel of Mark.  Part of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture edited by Peter S. Williamson and Mary Healy.  (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids MI, 2008).

Hengel, Martin.  Studies in the Gospel of Mark.  Translated by John Bowden from the original German.  (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene OR, 1985).

Myers, Ched.  Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus.  Twentieth Anniversary Edition.  (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1988/2008).

Myers, Ched & Marie Dennis, Joseph Nangle, OFM, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, and Stuart Taylor.  “Say to the This Mountain”: Mark’s Story of Discipleship. (Orbis, Maryknoll NY, 1996).

Perkins, Pheme.  The Gospel of Mark.  New Interpreter’s Bible Vol. VIII.  Part of the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary series convened by Leander Keck.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995).

Placher, William C.  Mark.  Part of the bible commentary series Belief, A Theological Commentary on the Bible edited by Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010).

Ryken, Leland, James C.Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, General Editors.  Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An encyclopedic exploration of the images, symbols, motifs, metaphors, figures of speech and literary patterns of the Bible.  (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1998).

Sweetland, Dennis.  Mark: From Death to Life. Part of the Spiritual Commentaries on the bible series edited by Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan.  (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2000).

Williamson, Jr., Lamar.  Mark.  Part of the Interpretation biblical commentary series edited by James L. Mays, Patrick d. Miller, and Paul J. Achtemeier.  (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1983).




This talk is by John Hall.

Toasts at a wedding reception.  Distant uncle makes a toast that makes sense only to a few family members.  Only “insiders” understand it.  Much of these 2 chapters is full of inside ideas.

Chapter 13 breaks the stream of activity that had been the gospel to this point for a chapter long conversation between Jesus and the disciples.

At least one of the disciples seem to have never been to Jerusalem before.  Is impressed by the buildings.

Long dialog has 4 parts:

  1. Verses 5-13 the disciples will undergo persecution
  2. Verses 13-23 warnings about being led astray, false prophets
  3. Verses 24-27 describes the coming of the Son of Man in great power and glory
  4. Verses 28-37 encourages the disciples to remain attentive because one never knows the hour when the end of time will come

Predominant image in ch. 13 is of Jesus as a prophet.  Prophets are not predictors of the future.  They speak for God.  The OT prophets reminded people of the covenant and called for repentance because in the end we will be accountable for what we have done, and not done.

Mark 13:2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down.”   Possibilities: anti-materialism?  A correct prediction?  An insertion after the fact?

Gospel of Mark dates to the time of the destruction of the temple and the Jews war with Rome in 70AD.  But exactly when we don’t know.  In this whole era the idea that the end of the world as we knew it was near.  (apocalyptic writing)  Death and resurrection of Jesus and the destruction of the temple in particular for Christian writers.

“Mark 13 is often referred to as the ‘Little Apocalypse’ … The word ‘apocalypse’ means revelation … In the Markan apocalypse Jesus acts as the revealer of the future and of the heavenly realm.”  John Donahue and Daniel Harrington.

In Mark 13:3 the setting moves to the Mount of Olives.  Disciples ask what everyone is asking.  Mark 13:4  “”Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be when all these things are about to come to an end?””  When, how, where?  Jesus responds:  Mark 13:5  “See that no one deceives you.”


Mark 13:9: “Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues.”  Specific words for then only?  Or for all of us – living by the gospel has never been easy.

The remainder of chapter 13 continues with this apocalyptic theme.  Mark was encouraging the church to remain faithful to their beliefs despite all of their hardships.  The last verse simply states: Mark 13:37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

Chapter 14 begins with a series of contrasts.

Megan McKenna: “The intimate ritual the woman performed for Jesus was an act of honor.  She truly knew the heart of Jesus.  Have we ever responded with such love to the word of God, to the person of Jesus to the poor and those facing suffering and death?”

Verse 12  not just ‘another’ meal.  In gospels there is always significance to them.  Here begins the Passover meal.

Significant meals:

  • Passover
  • With apostles after the resurrection
  • Wedding at Cana
  • Meal with loaves and fishes

This meal is the foundation of the Eucharist for us.  This meal took planning and preparation.  Anticipation.

Mark 14:18  “Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”

Megan McKenna: “We must remember that these words did not describe only Judas; they were directed at each of us.”  We betray and abandon Jesus when we deliberately sin, or more often, get distracted by the temptations of our lives and fall away.

Mark 14:22-24  While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many

After the Last Supper the disciples can’t seem to do anything right.  Because they were insiders?  Sometimes arrogance goes along with it.

Mark using the disciples failure as a way to warn others.

Luke Timothy Johnson: “The message is mainly one of warning against smugness and self-assurance.   He (Mark) seems to be saying … “If you think your discipleship consists in power because of the presence of God, beware; you are called to follow the one who suffered and died.  Your discipleship is defined by his messiahship, in terms of obedience and service.”

These two chapters are full of signs, warnings not only to the community he wrote for but also for us.


Outline of chapter 13:

  • The disciples catch a glimpse of the Temple
  • Jesus teaches the disciples about the end times
    • signs of the end times – false teachers, wars, earthquakes and famines
    • special warnings for the church as the end times approach
    • when the abomination spreads – flee to the mountains!
    • false messiahs
    • the Son of Man coming on the clouds
    • example of the fig tree
    • example of the man traveling abroad


The disciples catch a glimpse of the Temple

  • God’s “dwelling place on earth” Psalm 132:12,13

Yes, the LORD has chosen Zion,

desired it for a dwelling:

“This is my resting place forever;

here I will dwell, for I desire it.


  • no statue of God as in Greek and Roman temples
  • not a place for weekly worship – did have continuous sacrifices, was destination for three great festivals each year
  • The Temple was considered to be a reflection of the heavenly realm. The first Temple (Solomon’s)  took 7 years to build, creation took 7 days.  God as the ultimate builder.
  • It was a ‘holy’ place therefore Gentiles could only come so close, Jewish women to another area, Jewish men to another, Priests and Levites within that, the High Priest only into the Holy of Holies.
  • The Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s version of the temple in 586 BC. Rebuilt (poorly) upon return from exile.  Herod the Great built the second great Temple, taking 33 years.


In the Gospel of Mark this is the last visit of Jesus to the Temple.  In the next verses he is seated with the inner circle on the mountain to the east of the Temple Mount – the Mount of Olives.


Ezekiel 10:17-19

When they stood still, the wheels stood still; when they rose up, the wheels rose up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them. Then the glory of the LORD left the threshold of the temple and took its place upon the cherubim. The cherubim lifted their wings and rose up from the earth before my eyes as they departed with the wheels beside them. They stopped at the entrance of the eastern gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them.


Ezekiel 11:22-23

Then the cherubim lifted their wings and the wheels alongside them, with the glory of the God of Israel above them. The glory of the LORD rose up from the middle of the city and came to rest on the mountain east of the city.


Jesus teaches the disciples about the end times

Boring p. 358: “This discourse contains substantial pre-Markan elements, including some that go back to Jesus, but as it stands the discourse is a Markan composition.  The interpreter’s primary focus should therefore be on the address to Markan readers in their situation ca. 70C.E., not on the original meaning of sayings of the historical Jesus and / or the oracle of a Jewish or Christian prophet included and reinterpreted in the discourse.”

This whole section has much in common with Book of Revelation, the emphasis is on the “now” understanding of our troubles rather than on the glory that is to ultimately come.


  • signs of the end times – false teachers, wars, earthquakes and famines

Boring p. 363: with regard to false teachers “What then was the danger?  After Easter, within the Christian community, there were those who came “in Jesus’ name” and spoke in the first person as the voice of the risen Lord, using the revelation-formula “I am”.  Just as there were Jewish prophets who saw the threat to the temple in 66-70 as an indication of the last days and the eschatological intervention of God, so there were Christian prophets who spoke in Jesus’ name and with his revelatory formula “I am”.  Mark is suspicious of such prophets; the Markan Jesus warns his followers against them.”


wars, earthquakes etc. were standard apocalyptic elements.  See all of Rev. chapter 6.

Rev. 6:7,8  When he broke open the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature cry out, “Come forward.” I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades accompanied him. They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth.


  • special warnings for the church as the end times approach

The Markan community is being subjected to “trials” and courts within the Jewish community.  Families are being torn apart as the Christians are being pushed out of what they consider to be a salvific community (Christ PLUS Judaism), being forced themselves to choose, leaving behind family members as well.  Friends and neighbors testifying against one another.

Placher p. 186: “It is well worth remembering how often conversion to Christianity divided families.  A Christian in the family was like a critic of the government in the family under Stalin or Hitler; everyone else’s career and respectable social position might be damaged.”

BUT – is this the end now?  NO.  The gospel must be preached to all nations first.  Keep it in perspective.


  • when the abomination spreads – flee to the mountains!

Boring p. 367: “What is this “abomination of desolation”?  The phrase comes from 1 Macc 1:54 (and Daniel 9, Daniel 11 and Daniel 12)), where it refers to the pagan altar erected in the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes on December 15 in 167BCE, defiling the temple and making it impossible for Jews to worship there, that is, making it deserted.”


1 Macc. 1:54-58     On the fifteenth day of the month Kislev, in the year one hundred and forty-five, the king erected the desolating abomination upon the altar of burnt offerings, and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars. They also burned incense at the doors of houses and in the streets. Any scrolls of the law that they found they tore up and burned. Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant, and whoever observed the law, was condemned to death by royal decree. So they used their power against Israel, against those who were caught, each month, in the cities.


  • false messiahs



  • the Son of Man coming on the clouds

Note the emphasis on the cosmic nature of all of this.

Boring p. 371: “The resolution of the human problem is not finally solved by the ministry of Jesus, or his death, or even by his resurrection.  The solution to the human problem will be resolved at the coming of the son of Man and the kingdom of God.  Mark does not narrate this; it still lies in the future not only of the characters in the story, but in his own future.”


Placher p. 190 – Jesus comes not in judgment here but to rescue

Daniel 7:1-14

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, as Daniel lay in bed he had a dream, visions in his head. Then he wrote down the dream; the account began: In the vision I saw during the night, suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, from which emerged four immense beasts, each different from the others.


The first was like a lion, but with eagle’s wings. While I watched, the wings were plucked; it was raised from the ground to stand on two feet like a human being, and given a human mind. The second beast was like a bear; it was raised up on one side, and among the teeth in its mouth were three tusks. It was given the order, “Arise, devour much flesh.”


After this I looked and saw another beast, like a leopard; on its back were four wings like those of a bird, and it had four heads. To this beast dominion was given. After this, in the visions of the night I saw a fourth beast, terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength; it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet what was left. It differed from the beasts that preceded it. It had ten horns. I was considering the ten horns it had, when suddenly another, a little horn, sprang out of their midst, and three of the previous horns were torn away to make room for it. This horn had eyes like human eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly.


As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days took his throne.  His clothing was white as snow, the hair on his head like pure wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire.  A river of fire surged forth, flowing from where he sat; Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads stood before him.

The court was convened, and the books were opened. I watched, then, from the first of the arrogant words which the horn spoke, until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the burning fire. As for the other beasts, their dominion was taken away, but they were granted a prolongation of life for a time and a season.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man.  When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed


  • example of the fig tree

Israel has two seasons – rainy season and harvest / summer.

Boring p. 375: “Just as the budding of the fig tree makes it obvious to all that summer is near, the cosmic signs of verses 24b-25 make it obvious to all that the son of Man is near.  The fig tree of the parable is unrelated to the ‘cursed’ fig tree representing the temple (1:12-21).  Nor is the fig tree here a symbol for Israel.  The story simply portrays a phenomenon of nature that provides an analogy for understanding the nearness of summer…”


  • example of the man traveling abroad

Only the Father knows when all this will happen – not even Jesus.  And certainly not those false prophets wandering around claiming to speak in the name of Jesus.


Outline of chapters 14:

  • plotting to put him to death
  • Jesus in Bethany / anointing with oil
  • Judas
  • Feast of Unleavened bread / Passover
  • On the Mount of Olives
  • Gethsemane
  • The betrayal by Judas
  • The trial before the Sanhedrin
  • Denial by Peter


Myers p. 357 points out that this chapter has three sets of prediction / fulfillments:

  • one will betray / Judas’ kiss
  • all will fall away / disciples flee at arrest
  • Peter will deny Jesus / Peter denies Jesus


plotting to put him to death

Williamson p. 247: “The declared opponents of Jesus need the failed disciple to accomplish their purpose – not in order to identify Jesus, but to arrest him unobserved.  The behavior of both is reprehensible, but of the two, that of the failed disciple is the more heinous because of his special relationship to Jesus.”



Jesus in Bethany / anointing with oil

Williamson p. 248: nard was used to anoint the head and hair and the dead.  Done by a nameless woman.

Myers p. 359 quotes Schussler-Fiorenza – priests and kings were anointed in the OT.  That it was done by a woman made it dangerous / reminder of crossing all the boundaries again.  Anointing is thus associated with both holiness and authority.

1 Kings 1:39,40 : Then Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the ram’s horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” Then all the people went up after him, playing flutes and rejoicing so much the earth split with their shouting.

2 Kings 9:6: Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet’s aide poured the oil on his head and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I anoint you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel.




Myers p. 360: “There is no reason the authorities would have needed “inside help” to achieve their goal, except to monitor the movements of the community.”

Myers: 361: Jesus and his followers went “underground”. Anonymous helpers in the city for the meal, surreptitious signals (man with bucket), safe house to eat the meal, eating the Passover just the first Israelites – as if in flight.


Williamson p. 250,251 reads this differently – that these events happen and are described this way to emphasize that God is in control here, that all of this is in accordance with the divine plan – things just fall into place


Myers p. 360: “At the point in the mission of the community where the deepest personal trust and loyalty are required, the woman’s solidarity with Jesus and his way has no price, whereas Judas “sells out” for silver.  The tragedy above all, repeated again and again, is that Judas was one of the twelve (three times: 14:10, 20, 43); it is from within the community that “betrayal” (seven times) comes.”


Feast of Unleavened bread / Passover

Psalm 41:9  “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”


Joachim Jeremias – a great scholar from the 60’s and 70’s noted that by the time of Mark the Eucharistic blessings were already liturgical formulas.  The text in Mark comes from outside of Mark.  Jeremias (quoted by Myers p. 362):


“When at the daily meal the paterfamilias recites the blessing over the bread … and breaks it and hands a piece to each member to eat, the meaning of the action is that each of the members is made a recipient of the blessing by this eating; the common “Amen” and the common eating of the bread of benediction unite the members into a table fellowship.  The same is true of the “cup of Blessing,” which is the cup of win over which grace has been spoken, when it is in circulation among the members: drinking from it mediates a share in the blessing.”


note that for Jesus he has spoken of a cup of sorrows (can you drink the cup that I will drink?)


Isaiah 53: 11,12

Because of his anguish he shall see the light;

because of his knowledge he shall be content;

My servant, the just one, shall justify the many,

their iniquity he shall bear.


Therefore I will give him his portion among the many,

and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,

Because he surrendered himself to death,

was counted among the transgressors,

Bore the sins of many,

and interceded for the transgressors


Exodus 24:7,8

Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will hear and do.” Then he took the blood and splashed it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”


Myers p. 364: “It is important for Christian readers to recognize that in Mark this “eucharist” is not described as a “memorial”; it is not backward-looking but forward-looking.  Through the symbolic action of table fellowship, Jesus invites the disciples/reader to solidarity with his impending arrest, torture, and execution.  In this episode, Mark articulates his new symbolic center, and overturns the last stronghold of symbolic authority in the dominant order, the high holy feast of Passover.  In place of the temple liturgy Jesus offers his “body” – that is, his messianic practice in life and death.  It is this very “sanctuary / body” opposition that will shape Mark’s narrative of Jesus’ execution.”


On the Mount of Olives

As the disciples fail at every turn through this chapter there are two hopeful signs: Jesus promises to meet them in Galilee and the “young man” escapes.

God first present to Israel on Mount Sinai.  God is later present to Israel on Mount Zion in the Temple.  Symbolically – Jesus now leaves the Temple area and Mt. Zion for the Mount of Olives.  God has abandoned the Temple and the Temple cult.


2 Samuel 15:30 (King David betrayed by his own son Absalom, flees for his life)

As David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. All those who were with him also had their heads covered and were weeping as they went.

There are two places in the OT where the Divine presence leaves the Temple and comes to rest on the Mount of Olives nearby.  One is at the point where the Babylonians are carrying off the people into captivity and the Temple of Solomon is being destroyed.



Placher p. 207: Abba does NOT translate as “daddy”.  It is a slightly less formal translation of the Hebrew word for Father.  (Ab / Av)


The betrayal by Judas

Myers p. 367: “The next scene, it must be said, reeks of the overkill so typical of covert state action against civilian dissidents.  The secret signal, the surprise attack at night, and of course the heavily armed contingent all imply that the authorities expected armed resistance.”     Death squads that operated in El Salvador, Guatemala?


Myers p. 369: “The young man, who flees after the authorities try to seize him along with Jesus, is a symbol of the discipleship community as a whole, which has just itself fled.  He escapes naked, indicative of shame, leaving behind a cloth that becomes the “burial garment” for Jesus.”  (same word used later for that burial garment) “The end of the story will reintroduce the young man, but there he will be “sitting at the right” and fully clothed in a white robe –symbols of the martyrs who have overcome the world through death.”


The trial before the Sanhedrin

Myers’ (p. 370ff) reading of the trial here (and before Pilate in chapter 15) stresses that the interaction between Jesus and Sanhedrin / Pilate are virtually identical.  Myers believes that Mark holds BOTH the Jewish authorities and the Romans were responsible for his death – and that while Jesus WAS guilty of subverting both oppressive systems he was also NOT guilty of what either regime accused him of (violent resistance, blasphemy).


Myers p. 371 – Pilate had the authority to depose the high priest and get another one.  In no way would he have been trying to appease him, in no way would he have weakly given in to the demands of the crowds to do something he did not want to do.  Pilate was known to be powerful and cruel as a Roman procurator and was eventually deposed precisely because of excess cruelty.

The trial before the Sanhedrin occurs at night – a violation of Jewish / rabbinic law.  Hence the required re-convening in the morning to confirm the sentence.  It is part of Mark’s portrayal however to underline the illegality and ugliness of the events.


Myers p. 373: “The narrative makes perfect sense if we assume the opposite of the apologia theory – namely, that Mark’s Pilate fully understands the political character of Jesus’ practice as a threat, approves of his elimination, and is willing to exchange a known political terrorist (Barabbas) in order to secure it.’  p. 374: “We can conclude from this that the release of one popular dissident in order to defuse public protest over the execution of another, in the context of a politically charged atmosphere, is not only plausible but probable.”


Myers says the translation of the response of Jesus to the final question “are you the Messiah?” should be “Am I?”  not “I am”.


Denial by Peter

Myers p. 377: “The contempt of his accusers – that his master is a Nazarene, and he a Galilean – is colorful detail with a purpose.  It is another narrative indicator of the movement’s identification with the rural north – which is cause for antipathy and suspicion by urban Jerusalemites.”


15:1 – Jesus is bound.  Remember the earlier theme of Jesus unbinding those who are bound (Gerasene demoniac and others) from the powers that control them – demons / Romans / cultural traditions (women, poor) etc.   –  that same system now binds up Jesus and leads him to his death.  It thinks it has triumphed.





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