Lectionary Year B
September 17, 2000
Mark 8:27-38

Step III: Immediate Context


One significant contextual factor is that text follows Jesus' exorcism & healing miracles, which aids our understanding of meaning & authority of titles such as Messiah & Son of man. For the 1st half of the gospel, Jesus has been healing & teaching with divine power. Messiah, meaning anointed, indicates God's choice of Jesus, not our choice or our manipulation of situation. The Son of Man reference reminds us of: Jesus' claim of God's authority to forgive sin (Mk 2:10); Jesus' claim to determine suitable sabbath behavior (Mk 2:28); & Daniel's OT heavenly son of man (Dan 7:13-14) in which resurrected son of man returns as judge. These are images of divine power & authority which Jesus appropriates & claims. Understanding Jesus as both incarnate & divine is important to seeing Jesus as the special & crucial way God is present to us in our lives. The context of this text as a climax to the healing/teaching of the 1st eight chapters & as a beginning of the passion story is important because:

1. Jesus here begins a pattern of predicting the future outcome, which is another sign of his authority & divinity.
2. Jesus of miracles is now rightly beginning to be balanced by Jesus of the cross.

Both ideas are critical to our understanding more fully all the ramifications of what it means for Jesus to be Messiah & Son of Man & for us to confess him as such.

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