Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mark's Presentation of Jesus as an Aspect of His Presetantion of God

In a few previous posts I have been focusing on Mark’s narrative presentation of Jesus as the one sent from God and the one who acts and speaks for God. Moreover, in more recent writings I have argued that Mark presents God as not only the one who wills Jesus’ death, but also as the one who acts to bring about Jesus’ death as a ransom for many to establish a new covenant between God and God’s people. Yet, God is also and the one who raises, vindicates, and exalts Jesus. In this post, I want to demonstrate how all of this comes together in Mark to solidify Mark’s presentation of Jesus as an aspect of his presentation of God, and his presentation of God as an aspect of his presentation of Jesus.
First, as God is presented in the narrative as the authenticator of Jesus, so Jesus is presented as the authoritative actor and speaker for God. Jesus is clearly presented as the one sent from God. Moreover, his miracle working activity is understood in light of the coming of God’s rule. As suggested in previous posts, certain themes and characteristics exist in the miracle stories that serve to highlight Jesus as acting on behalf of God. 
Regarding Jesus as speaker for God, I have also demonstrated how Jesus speaks with authority from God, and how he presents himself in relation and submission to God. His teaching is focused on the coming rule of God and the actions required by all who wish to be part of that rule. Moreover, via some of his sayings and actions, Jesus is clearly presented as standing in place of and on behalf of God. 
Those who desire to participate in the coming rule of God must meet the requirements voiced by Jesus, and indeed they must recognise Jesus as the authoritative envoy of God.  Thus through his actions and words, Jesus is presented as the one who is authenticated by God. Indeed, God is the only one who can and does authenticate Jesus in Mark’s narrative.
Second, as God is presented as the commissioner of Jesus, so Jesus is presented as the Son of Man/suffering servant/Son of God who carries out the divine commission. Jesus is clearly presented in Mark as understanding the task for which he has been sent. Although he does view his miracle activity, as well as his preaching and teaching, as commissioned by God, it is ultimately his suffering and death which are understood in the narrative as the primary purpose for his coming. 
Through the narrative presentation of Jesus’ suffering and death, as well as the Markan Jesus’ words concerning his death, the audience is presented with the clear portrayal of God as the one who acts to bring this death about for God’s purposes. It is God’s will that Jesus suffer, God who ultimately stands behind the “handing over” of Jesus, and God who abandons Jesus to death. Jesus, however, is not to be viewed here as a character without freedom of choice, for he freely and intentionally gives his life away, submitting to the will of the Father.
Finally, as God is presented as the vindicator and exalter of Jesus, so Jesus is presented as the risen and glorified Son of Man/Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus is no surprise in the Markan narrative, for Jesus clearly speaks of it. In each setting it follows on the prediction of his death, and is thus tied to the activity and will of God. The specific use of the passive e)gerqh=nai (“after I have been raised”) by Jesus in 14:28, and h)ge/rqh (“He has been raised”) by the young man at the tomb (16:6), are intended to focus the audience’s attention onto God as the one, the only one, who can and does raise and vindicate Jesus.
Moreover, as the Son of Man, who is the Son of God, Mark’s Jesus envisions his final vindication as that which God accomplishes. His testimony before the Father and the angels (8:38) implies the authority given to him via his vindication by the Father. He is the one who is the Messiah, who, as David’s Lord, sits at the right hand of the Lord, as this Lord places the enemies of the Messiah under his feet (12:26). 
Furthermore, his victory is pictured as a cosmic event which brings about the shake-up of the heavens, in which he takes his authoritative position over the angels, sending them forth to gather the elect of God (13:24-27). The enemies of the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One, will witness this event, as the Son of Man is exalted to the right hand of the Power (14:62). Thus in God’s faithfulness to the Son, God conquers the enemies of humanity, death and evil, and thereby vindicates and exalts the Son. 

Through his story Mark presents a portrait of Jesus which is an aspect of his portrait of God. God plays the main role in the narrative being the sender, authenticator, commissioner, and vindicator of Jesus. Jesus is presented in terms reflecting this presentation of God. He is presented as the one sent from God, the one who has authority to act and speak for God, the one who gives his life in obedience to the commission from God, and the one who is vindicated by God. Thus, the significance and identity of Jesus in Mark is an aspect of the narrative presentation of God. 
Christology and theology are interrelated in Mark. Mark’s theology is a christological theology; a theology centred on the presentation of Jesus as the one who speaks and acts for God. Mark’s Christology is at the same time a theological Christology; Jesus is presented as finding significance and identity in his relationship to God. Thus, although theology and Christology are often considered separate concerns in Mark, as indeed God and Jesus are separate characters in the narrative, there is also the clear presentation of their inseparability within the Gospel.

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