Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mark 1:12-13, More Highlights in the Study of Mark's Gospel

Μάρκον 1·12 Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον.  13 καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.
And immediately, the spirit is throwing him out into the wilderness.  And he was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan, and he was with wild animals, and angels were serving him. Mark 1:12-13
ἐκβάλλει (is throwing out)
This is the same verb that is used when Jesus casted out demons.  It really means “to cast out” or “to throw out”.  Most translations render this as “driven out” or “sent out”.  ἐκβάλλει shows just how much force Mark puts into the scene of Jesus being “driven” into the wilderness by the spirit.
πειραζόμενος (being tempted)
This participle is present tense and carries a continual action.  So, it means that Jesus was continually being tempted by Satan while he was in the wilderness for 40 days.
καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ (and angels waited on him)
διηκόνουν means “to serve”, “to minister”, or “to wait upon” as to wait on a table or to serve a table.  The verb is in the imperfect tense and carries a continual action.  So, it means that angels were waiting on him continually while he was in the wilderness.  The text doesn’t say what form of “attending to” Jesus was receiving, but it could have been food, drink, spiritual attending. or all three, or something else.
Final note.
Please note that we are only dealing with Mark’s version of the events. With that said, I deal with what are considered “hard” readings in the New Testament and they have to be dealt with.  Because some New Testament readings are “hard”, that doesn’t give us a pass on not understanding what they mean.  Most can be handled logically by just understanding what the author is trying to portray.
 Mark’s main theme is to show Jesus being in the wilderness first and foremost.  He starts that idea off in verses 2 and 3 by putting two Old Testament passages together in order to show prophecy that Jesus would be in the wilderness.  He also reinforces that idea when he mentions that Jesus was with the wild animals during his 40-day stay in the wilderness.  Mark seems to portray all of the other events that happened in the wilderness as not being as important.  Notice that Mark doesn’t mention at all that Jesus was fasting while he is in the wilderness, but we know that Matthew and Luke do state that he was fasting.  Mark doesn’t describe Satan leaving Jesus in the wilderness, but Matthew and Luke do state it.  Instead of the angels coming after Satan left, Mark seems to have them with Jesus during the whole 40 days while he is being tempted.  It is also possible that Mark has those angels giving him food and water during the 40 days.  That’s not too far-fetched as the text does say that they were continually waiting on him and the verb means "to serve" or "to wait" on someone!  Matthew’s version has the angels continually waiting on him as well, but Matthew makes sure that the reader knows that Satan has already departed before they render the service.  Mark, on the other hand, does not make that distinction.
Is this a hard reading?  Of course it is, but we must not skip over it just because it is hard.  We must study it and understand it!  Remember what Mark really wanted us to know; he wanted to drive home that Jesus was in the wilderness and Jesus being in the wilderness was fulfilling prophecy.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe we can understand from this in our wilderness journey that temptations are ever present, but God ministers to us all along the way. Both are continual.