“D. McKenna refers to the “darkest days of American Christianity” when “liberals” and “conservatives” divided up and prioritized “social” and “spiritual” ministries. Mark is surely calling his readers to see the need for faithful ministry in word and in deed, whether that be teaching or admonishing, feeding or healing. When the tasks seem to great, then we are called to remember the miracles.”1
- The Corban Oath, found in Mark 7:9-13 is referring to dedicating a property gift to God or the temple. This makes it unavailable for use by anyone but the donor. This oath was often abused as a reason to not help others with the land.
- The Syrophoenician woman changes Jesus’ mind (7:28-30).
- The methods that Jesus uses to heal the deaf man are odd for Jesus (7:33-34). However, they were common among magicians in the first century.
- Mark 8:32 is the only time in Mark that Jesus is said to have spoken plainly.
Two Sides to Discipleship
The Christian church has often focussed on the cost of discipleship. You must lose your life, you must take up your cross (8:34-36). But it is important to remember that there are two sides to discipleship: the cost and the reward. The cost of discipleship is not just reaping the benefits of abundance grace. Jesus calls us to respond to the responsibility (and challenges) of being a disciple of Jesus. However, if we think of discipleship as only cost, it drives a wedge between the cost and benefit of following Jesus.
Jesus’ life does not end in crucifixion. It ends in resurrection. When we follow Jesus, we don’t just lose our life and pick up our heavy crosses. We gain life through Jesus and experience the joy of seeing the Kingdom of God at work in our lives, in our churches and in our neighbourhoods.
Two Stage Method of Healing
Throughout the text, the author of Mark focusses on the theme of “seeing eyes and hearing ears.” The healing of the blind man (7:31-37) is a great reflection of the disciples’ constant struggle with having “seeing eyes and hearing ears.” After the first touch from Jesus, the man sees everything clearly. He understands everything he is seeing. In the next, Jesus blesses the man with a full healing. At this point in the Gospel, the disciples are in between the two stages of healing. They have seen Jesus’ miracles of feeding but they still do not see clearly what the purpose of Jesus’ ministry is. As we read on, the disciples will continue on their journey of understanding and come to realize that Jesus is the Christ.
Questions for Reflection
- When you read through the gospel, look for rewards of following Jesus. Then read through again and look for the cost. How does this emphasis change your reading?
- When in your life, have you had a moment of healing? When has God revealed something to you and you were able to have “seeing eyes and hearing ears”?
- Where in Mark do you see Jesus’ ministry in both word and deed? How do we balance these ministries in our own lives and in the church?
1Geddert, Mark, 194.