Thursday, January 12, 2012
Something I've noticed, but maybe it's nothing
I've been reading the daily lectionary in the original Greek as one of my New Year's Resolution. So far, so good, but sometimes it has really tested me especially when you get comfortable with one author and style like St. Paul and then move to St. James. But I like having these difficulties because it sometimes does allow me to get insights that an English translation may not be able to give.'
Yesterday's Gospel reading was from that of St. Mark 8:30-34. Christ has just healed the blind man at Bethsaida and like so many other places in the Gospel of Mark he tells the person healed and this disciples NOT to mention the event to anyone. I need not go into the debunked theory of William Wrede's Messianic Secret interpretation. However, it is interesting for all the times in ALL the gospels where Christ heals, he forbids people to speak about it. In addition, when preaching of His Kingdom Christ speaks not straightforwardly but He tells parables to the crowds because the secrets have not been given to them yet, but only to His disciples (cf. Matt 13:10). If there were conspiracy theorists back then, I'm sure they'd wonder "What's He hiding?"
But in this pericope, Christ openly (parresiai)tells that the Son of Man must suffer many things at the hands of scribes and high priests and elders of Israel, to suffer death on the Cross but to rise again after three days. And he tells this not only to his Disciples but also the crowd which had been following him since His healing of the blind man in Bethsaida. So, why the change? Why speak so openly about this yet speak in parables and forbid others to speak of His miracles?
Now, I don't know how consistent this reasoning is across all four canonical Gospels or even within just the Gospel of Mark. It bears some more study on my part. But getting back to the matter at hand, could it be so easy as that the only way to understand the miracles and the parables is to follow Christ to the Cross and partake of His Resurrection? Then will everything else be revealed? I think it is. Too many Christians and fans of Jesus love to talk about how they love Jesus but don't go for that whole crucifixion and Resurrection stuff. But even Christ seems to say that the only way to understand His own miracles and psalms is only by taking up the cross and following Him. He would probably say to such people "You're putting the cart before the horse!"
In the Symbol of Faith, the Nicene Creed, there is no mention of Christ's miracles or parables. Of the actions of Christ recorded there are only His Incarnation, His death, His Resurrection, His Ascension and His Second Coming. The Fathers at Nicaea and Constantinople may not have been thinking of this particular Gospel selection, but I think it is safe to say that the parables of Christ and His miracles cannot be understood unless viewed from the lens of God Incarnate dieing on the Cross and rising in three days.
I don't think this is any great revelation especially to those seasoned theologians and academics who pour over the Greek New Testament like syrup on waffles, but it made me see the spiritual life in a new light.