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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Jesus Heals Many : Jesus Prays in the Desert?

Continuing with Mark's Gospel we come to another healing story. Or rather a set of healings. Here is Mark 1:29-39
Jesus Heals Many
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place
35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
38Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
I think there is a temptation to skip over these stories. Many Christians, and the vast majority of non-Christians, will read this as a metaphor for Jesus' greatness. Others, will not really ponder very long on whether they think Jesus could make a sick person well, and finally, most Christians will simply accept it as a given that Jesus how power to affect the physical world that others do not--perhaps because of their lack of faith.

A couple things that should give us pause for any of these positions. First, the healing is not by itself evidence that Jesus was the Son of God. Lots of people healed. Healers were all over the place. Second, remember that Mark was writing a generation and half, at least, after these events took place. Mark is the first Gospel, but the author wasn't a newspaper reporter. He put these stories, in this order for a purpose. (Although, my father-in-law reports that the Greek is absolutely atrocious. Literally like reading a book report by a fourth grader.) Third, and this is the reason for the question mark, it turns out that the story says Jesus retired to the deserts in Galilee. Helpful translators have recognized that there are no deserts in Galilee and "corrected" it to "lonely places." As the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary points out, this destroys the parallel between baptism and temptation, (crowd-desert).

So: What does this story tell us about the nature of Jesus? What was his Myers Brigs designation? I'm an ENTJ.

6 comments:

Lin said...

That's a popular game among clergy: "What was Jesus' Myers-Briggs?" which is related to "What Would Jesus Do."

What he did to recharge himself was get away from people -- more than once. And he had a small group of close friends who knew him well. He was an introvert.

Matt Dick said...

This is a very slippery slope. Supposing Jesus has a particular personality profile... doesn't that absolutely imply that there is a "correct" personality? One toward which we should all strive?

I think all of us extroverts are going to have to try to get some alone time in if we really want to figure out WWJD...

JimII said...

I think it is only a slippery slope if we take WWJD too far. There are aspects of Jesus' life that serve as an example, but not all of them.

Nothing in the Scripture or my church tradition or personal reflection tells me that I should eat or dress like Jesus, for example.

I think it is helpful to have an understanding of Jesus' personality, even if we do not need to mimic it.

Anonymous said...

The main thing I got out of these scriptures, was verse 35...Jesus took the time to pray.

I have only been reading the bible for let say...4 years and not on a daily basis. I have several bibles but the Life Application bible has helped me bridge the gap between the past and present, the conceptual and practical. According to the Life Application bible, it says that " Finding time to pray is not easy, but prayer is the vital link between us and God. Like Jesus, we must break away from others to talk with God, even if we have to get up very early in the morning to do it!"
(This was the explanation for verse 35)

Do I take this literally? Well, to be good at anything or understand in dept, we study and practice it. So it makes sense to me to spend some time reading the Word and looking at other resources before determining whether it is ridiculous or not.
Is that a reasonable approach?
I know it sounds simple, but why should it be complicated?

Adamgv said...
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