Study Guide

Gospel of Mark Revenge

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"Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"—for they had said, "He has an unclean spirit." (NRSV 3:28-30) 

Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. (KJV 3:28-30)

Don't mess with the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees' charge that Jesus is possessed by the demon Beelzebul (3:22) is a sin that can't be forgiven. We're only in the third chapter and they've already crossed the point of no return.

Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (NRSV 8:38)

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (KJV 8:38)

So-called "lex talionis" is the fancy name for a justice-principle we've all heard before: what goes around comes around. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. You get the point. Here it's shame for shame. Or as we moderns say, let the punishment fit the crime.

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it. (NRSV 11:13-14)

And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. (KJV 11:13-14)

Is Jesus really that mad at a fig tree? Or is this event figurative of something else? Read on in 11:15-20. Turns out Jesus isn't breathing fiery vengeance against a tree but something else. Check out our thoughts on the "The Withered Fig Tree" for more on this.

What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. (NRSV 12:9)

What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. (KJV 12:9)

The destruction of the wicked tenants reminds us of the destruction of the temple by the Romans in the year 70—it probably reminded Mark of that, too. That's probably why he included it. But who are the "others" who will get the vineyard in the end? And when will they take control? We have some guesses in our discussion of "The Parable of the Wicked Tenants."

They [scribes] devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation. (NRSV 12:40)

Which [scribes] devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. (KJV 12:40)

Jesus really seems to like the principle "what goes around comes around." Check it out. Replace "greater damnation" with "abundant damnation" (also an accurate translation of the Greek), and you'll see what we mean. The scribes, who love an abundance of honors and wealth (14:38-49), sure will receive an abundance—but of damnation. Ouch.

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born. (NRSV 14:21)

The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. (KJV 14:21)

Poor Judas. He's in big trouble. Jesus is using what in Greek culture is known as the Wisdom of Silenus: the first best thing is not to be born, and the second is to die young. Bleak, right? Biblical figures like Job and Jeremiah know all about this (take a look at Job 3:1-26 and Jeremiah 20:14-18).

Jesus said, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and 'coming with the clouds of heaven.'" (NRSV 14:62)

And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (KJV 14:62)

During his trial, Jesus affirms that he is the Messiah and foretells his return with the full authority of God. Don't miss the veiled threat. Jesus is definitely saying that he'll have the last laugh.

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