Lectionary Year B
March 19, 2000
Mark 8:31-38

Step II: Disposition


(JFC) This account makes abbreviated references to what surely must have been either long or several discussions or both. It definitely teaches a new lesson, a different lesson with different ramifications. Therefore, it is stated in stark and calculated sentences. It uses unfamiliar vocabulary since it is teaching new and strange data.

(RA) Is this a "passion prediction" and "discipleship saying" in an uncomfortable union?

(JH) What is the role of the link to John the Baptist in v. 28? Is it a throw back to the didactic prediction in ch. 1?

What is the role of "instruction" genre in general here and in whole book?

Is this passage shaped with the Psalms or Daniel in mind?

With ref. to steps III/IV:
(JW) perhaps "mission narrative" when seen from purpose or perhaps prophetic/ teaching voice saying about discipleship.
(JA) perhaps a mixed type? The combination of passion prediction and discipleship saying both here and in chs. 9 and 10 as well. Check out the differences and similarities before deciding.

We seem to get extremes here. Jesus makes a dramatic forecast and Peter has a dynamic that makes me wonder if more compassion and/or diplomacy couldn't have been used by either or both of them. I have to question just how serious is Jesus here. He has been teaching, healing, working wonders and preaching some and now He teaches something quite a departure from the norms set earlier. So, just how earnest does He mean to be now? And, furthermore, just how literal does He mean for these questions & hypothetical predicaments to be interpreted? Are they merely rhetorical or more than that? Then, too, couldn't Jesus have taken more time explaining to Peter and the other disciples before involving the crowds? His expectations do seem a little more considerate of the additional hearers, though it certainly could have been even more so, I think.

And, the concluding idea of the Son of Man's coming in God's glory certainly could do with more detailed explanation, too, surely. Jesus was, surely, more considerate than these brief statements seem to indicate. The text begins with a very brief and apparently inflammatory, or at least unexpected, declaration by Jesus. It addresses His impending suffering, rejection and death. It evidently provokes a reaction by Peter, to which Jesus replies with an evaluation of what Peter's objection says of Peter's thinking. Thereupon, Jesus calls for followers from the hearers of His teaching and leading. He tells them what expectations He places on such followers. Next, He warns them against trying to save themselves. He emphasizes the futility of such an attempt. Finally, He speaks to the coming in God's glory of one He calls "the Son of Man". In Mark's inimitable style, these statements come in fast paced succession. These verses read as if Mark is working toward a target date imminent & either the scribes are in a hurry to close up shop for the day or the writing supplies are about to run out.

1) are Jesus and "Son of man" one and the same? (3rd person not 1st person)
2) who are the scribes and chief priests? (JW) why do they "reject"?
3) what does "openly"/"plainly" mean? Does the translation matter?
4) v. 29 they seem to understand, but then in vv. 32f they do not; what is this tension about? should the lectionary choice not have included vv. 27-30?
5) who is intended by "this generation" v. 38? (JW) are we the sinful generation too? which "side" of the line is Satan on and how do we leave that side? (steps V/VI?)
6) what is the difference between "soul" or "life" vv. 35ff?
7) cross reference = pre- or post-resurrection perspective v. 34? is this looking back or forward? (JW) is "cross-bearing" a particular image rather than a general one? (BW) is cross-dying a common way to execute? contrast to "taking up the sword"/"dying by the sword"?
8) "Son of man" = generally a "human" or a technical term?
9) what does "ashamed" v. 38 mean? (JW) how do future events relate to the "present" that was so confusing?

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