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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Who is Jesus in the Gospel of Mark?

by Lawrence Fox

Living under the Roman’s sword, Israel’s hope lay in the coming of the Messiah. When the Messiah came, the nation of Israel would be reborn into greatness exceeding the glory of King Solomon! And the Messiah’s coming would usher in an era of peace.
 But seemingly the Messiah came, and peace did not reign in the world and certainly not in Israel.  That is one of the polemics against Jesus as Messiah. Israel -- then and now -- boxed the Messiah into the category of material success and national pride.
St. Peter himself at one point didn’t understand Jesus’ Messianic role.  He rebuked Jesus for continuing the journey towards his death in the city of Jerusalem. (Mark 8:32)  But Jesus corrected Peter’s materialistic and national understanding of His mission, informing him “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)
In the midst of this debate over Jesus’ origins and identity, He asked this question: “If the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David, then how is it that David, through the inspiration of Holy Spirit, identifies the Messiah as Lord stating: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”  (Mark 12:35-36) Those gathered in the Temple courtyard heard the question and were amazed.
Some people think the Gospel of Mark has little to say about the divinity of Jesus Christ, but that is not the case. Mark’s narration testifies dramatically to the divinity of Jesus Christ. For this reason, I have chosen to address the question, “Who is Jesus in the Gospel of Mark?”
King David holding the Giant Goliath's head 
When King David desired to build the Lord God a temple in Jerusalem, God told him through Nathan that he could not build the temple because “Your hands are covered in blood.” So God’s Messiah would not bring peace and glory to the people of Israel by the sword as they expected, but by “humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
David was told that his son, Solomon, would build God’s temple. But God promised to establish David’s throne forever. And in fact God would become Father to Solomon. “I shall be a father to him and he shall be a son to me...” (2Samuel 7:14,15).
Solomon built a house with stones and mortar. But Jesus came into the world to build a house with His own Body through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The apostles and prophets formed the foundation of the house. But Jesus Himself, the Messiah, would become the cornerstone rejected by men but precious in eyes of God. (Mark 12:10).
Jesus’ arrest, trial and death were looming in the near future and so His question about David was an attempt to help his disciples and the people of Israel see that in His Person, Jesus fulfilled the promises made by God through the prophets in a way which natural man could not imagine.
With Jesus’ Incarnation, the Lord God was in their midst -- not on a mountain enveloped by cloud and fire, not in an ark made of acacia wood, not in a temple made of stone, not in the spirit of one of the prophets but physically present in the Person identified in the Gospel of Mark as “Son of God and Son of Mary.”
Mark’s Credentials and the Good News of Jesus
The Gospel of Mark is associated with
 the image of a Lion because it dramatically
portrays Jesus' authority over nature 
It is maintained by scholars that Gospel Writer John Mark was not an eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. But Mark is intimately connected to all the major figures in the New Testament: he is identified several times by Peter and Paul in the Epistles and by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles.  Mark is a first generation disciple of Jesus. He was immersed in the missionary teaching, preaching, and formation of those who saw, heard, touched, and ate with Jesus of Nazareth. (1John 1:3) Jesus said to his apostles, “Those who hear you, hear me.” Therefore, Mark was one of “those,” who heard Jesus speak loudly through the preaching and teaching of the apostles.
Peter identifies Mark as his son, (1 Peter. 1:13), using the same expression employed by Paul while writing to Timothy as “my true son in the faith.” (1Tim 1:2) Paul introduces Mark to the Church in Colossae as the cousin of Barnabas and informs them that if he comes to them they are to receive him. (Col: 4:10) While Paul was a prisoner along with Epaphras, he identifies Mark as one of his fellow workers. (Philomen 1:23)
In extra-biblical literature, Mark appears as Peter’s interpreter (Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, 130 AD). Papias states that Mark wrote down accurately the sayings and doings of Christ -- as Peter remembered it. It seems obvious that Peter, who died in 67 AD, was still alive when Mark started the Gospel.  Mark weaved in the Hebrew “sayings of Jesus” -- as recorded by the Apostle Matthew -- with Peter’s own teachings. This gave the Gospel the necessary historical context.
Mark, who became the local bishop of Alexandria, in Egypt, narrates the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in a quick pace and with very few personal commentaries. One exception being, “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.” (Mark 7:19) It is my contention, that Mark assumed the audience for his Gospel would be celebrating the Sacred Liturgy. The Holy Mass spiritually formed disciples through “the teaching of the apostles, the communion, the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42).
Mark’s Missing Infancy Narrative
Modernists, who deny the Virgin Birth, like to argue that Mark’s Gospel is the earliest because it does not include an infancy narrative as does the gospels of Matthew and Luke. This is a false argument since John’s Gospel also does not include an infancy narrative and it was written after Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
In fact, Mark’s Gospel begins with the preaching of St. John the Baptist in the land of Judea. Because Mark does not mention Jesus’ origins, the listener is drawn instead into the “mystery of Christ.” It is much like the introduction to the “mystery of Melchizedek” in the Old Testament. He was the priest-king of Salem, who appears in salvation history out of nowhere, offers bread and wine as a thanksgiving to God and blesses Abraham, the father of Israel (Genesis 14:18, 19).   
 John the Baptist, who normally would have assumed the duties of a first born son of an Aaronic priest, was called to be a voice crying  in the desert to make straight the path of the Lord. (Mark 1:2-5) People came to the Jordan River from the whole Judean countryside and Jerusalem to hear John preach. They confessed their sins and were baptized.
 John’s ministry alarmed the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin for several reasons. First, it was prophesized that the prophet Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah.  John’s appearance clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt, plus his eating of locusts and wild honey reminded them of Elijah, who was sent by God to the Ten Tribes of Israel to call them to conversion. (2Kings 1:8) Secondly, the prophet Elijah was succeeded by the prophet Elisha, who performed mightier works than even the great prophet Elijah himself!  
John the Baptist seemed to fulfill everything in the prophecy concerning the second coming of Elijah. He says, “After me will come someone more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:1)  So if another prophet is coming -- one greater than John the Baptist -- then time was short, but for whom? Just as the ministry of Elijah and Elisha preceded the demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C., the question arose in many Jews’ minds, “Was it to be Jerusalem, Israel, Rome, Gentiles or the world?”  Which would be destroyed? Answer: Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the Temple and all those trapped within were completely destroyed by the Romans n 70 A.D.
Voice from the Cloud
The ministry of Jesus as the God who saves begins when Jesus comes to the River Jordan and is baptized by John. (The name “Jesus” means “God saves.”) The image of the “God who saves” being baptized by a mere man embodies Jesus’ absolute humility.
In Mark’s narrative, as Jesus comes up out of the water, He sees heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. A voice comes from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” In Mark’s Gospel, this is a private not a public discourse between God and the Jesus of Nazareth.  The Voice literally fulfills the words that God spoke to King David: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. It is I who have begotten you.’” (Psalm 2)  Mark concludes the baptismal narration by stating that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan for 40 days.
This is eerily similar to what occurred when Moses led Israel into the desert after they escaped Egypt. Israel remained in the desert for 40 years because Israel succumbed time and again to various temptations including doubt that God would give them victory over the peoples occupying the Promised Land.
 Jesus’ 40 days in the desert fulfilled the words of God spoken to Israel through the prophets:
·     “I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there…” (Hosea 2:14)
·     “The LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)
Jesus is led into the desert to fulfill all righteousness and to bring about the fulfillment of of salvation history in Himself. (Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, 130-202 AD) As Adam was son of God, Jesus is Son of God. As Eve came forth from the side of Adam, the Church comes forth from the side of Jesus Christ. Just as the people of Israel were baptized into Moses through the Red Sea and led into the desert, so Jesus is baptized and led into the desert.
Testimony from the Wrong Persons
In Mark’s narrative, Jesus is recognized by unclean spirits who cry out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – The Holy One of God.”  (Mark 1:21-28) And they also cried out, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:7)
Jesus sternly rebukes the unclean spirit, “Be Quiet.”  The expression “Holy One of God” can be unpacked in several ways. For example the word “holy” means to be set apart from what is common. As such, Jesus is one set apart, or more emphatically, Jesus is the One set apart by God. It is probably not wise to focus on the ramblings of an evil spirit to understand the origins of Jesus except theologically even the liar must speak the truth in the presence of God – Who is Truth.  The evil spirits are forced to recognize Jesus as the “Holy One” and at the same time remain in their own confusion. “Have you come to destroy us?” they ask Jesus.
Similarly, The prophet Isaiah identifies God as the “Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 44:11) “Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 89:18) Other references are found in Psalms 71:22 and 78:41.
There is an implicit unity in these side-by-side expressions, “Holy One of God” and “Holy One of Israel.” God ordered Israel to set apart “Yahweh” (God’s name) as the only One, the One God of Israel. Likewise, God chose Israel from among all the nations of the world to be His Holy Nation and a people set apart. God later bestowed this designation on the Church. (1 Peter 2:9) Jesus literally the “Holy One of God” embodies mystically the ONE nation of Israel. Like the Jews who wandered in the desert for 40 years, Jesus went into the desert for 40 days. But when He was tempted, He passed through without sin.
Keeping this in mind, the figure of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel emerges as “the Holy One of the Holy One.” John the Evangelist summarized this expression by writing: “God no man has ever seen; except the only begotten God of God, the one in being in the bosom of the Father.” (John 1:18) The apostolic churches summarized this expression in their later Ecumenical Councils proclaiming Jesus to be: “God from God, Light from Light, and True God from True God; begotten but not made, one in being with the Father…”
The evil spirits again recognize Jesus in Mark 5:7:  “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” (Mark 5:7) In Mark’s narration, there are those who recognize Jesus under God’s compulsion and there are those who refuse to recognize Jesus as a result of compulsive sinfulness. Then there are those who recognize Jesus through the free gift of faith.
Son of Man and the Authority to Forgive Sins
"Your sins are forgiven."
When Jesus saw the faith of the people in Capernaum who lowered a paralyzed man down through the roof for Him to heal, He said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:1-12) Those who heard him speak were beside themselves with outrage, accusing Jesus in their hearts of blasphemy. “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” Jesus knew in his spirit what they were thinking, so He asked, “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?’” Jesus then commanded the man to get up and walk. And through this miracle, He demonstrated that the Son of Man has the power and authority to forgive sins. 
This is how Mark introduces Jesus as the Son of Man with the authority to forgive sins. The Son of Man is an idiomatic expression for “human.” But this human has a divine power, the power to forgive sins, and He is not bodiless unlike what the Gnostics teach.
 The evidence that Jesus has the ability to forgive sins on his own terms is without precedence within salvation history. The Mosaic Law taught that there was no sanctifying, cleansing, nor forgiving of sin without the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22) Jesus would eventually shed the Blood, His blood, required for the forgiveness of human sins. He is able to apply His Sacrifice on the Cross -- a future event  -- to the forgiveness of the sins of the paralytic. His power and authority to forgive sins are outside of time, which is a prerogative of divinity. The paralytic gets up and takes his mat. The people exclaim, “We have never seen anything like this.”  No, they have not seen anything like this in a created son of man. But Christ is the uncreated Son of Man.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus deliberately and repeatedly calls Himself the Son of Man. In the Old Testament, God deliberately and repeatedly calls the prophet Ezekiel “son of man.” So this expression becomes recognizable as the Voice of God voice and His manner of speaking. This is a mystery further developed by John the Evangelist who writes “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  
It is argued that Jesus deliberately identified Himself with the “son of man” in Daniel’s vision. Jesus’ self-identification as Son of Man informs the people of Israel that the words of Daniel and Ezekiel were being fulfilled through Him in their generation.
Lord of the Sabbath
Also in the Gospel of Mark we see Jesus using the expression Son of Man to call Himself, “Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath when some of his disciples picked the grain and ate it. The Pharisees, who evidently were shadowing Jesus and his disciples, complained that Jesus’ disciples were breaking the Sabbath.  Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. So the son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) If the Sabbath represents God’s rest and His  covenant with the people of Israel, then Jesus is Lord of God’s rest and the covenant. The heart of man was created for God, not for the creature “son of man” because that is idolatry. Jesus, who is Lord of God’s rest, is the object of man’s universal desire for happiness.
The Pharisees while adhering to the laws of Moses do not recognize how they are confusing faith in God with natural reason.  Natural reason is good, but with natural reason alone, man will never grasp the mystery “that in Christ the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form.” (Col. 2:9)
Jesus, who is God’s anointed, challenged the Pharisees and the Herodians with His teaching about the Sabbath. They began to plot His death. (Mark 3:6) Their anger fulfills what is written in the psalms, “Why this tumult among the nations, the Kings of the earth and princes plot against the Lord and His anointed…” (Psalm 2)
God of the Waves and the Wind
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ divinity is also manifested through His power over nature. The disciples went out on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus sleeping in the stern of the boat. A squall came up and shook the boat. The disciples woke Jesus from His sleep, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be Still!”
Then the winds died down and the waves went completely still. The disciples were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him?” (Mark 4:37-41)
Hidden within their question is the realization echoed in the psalms that God has control over the natural forces of nature: “O Lord God of Hosts, who is like thee? Thou are mighty…Thou rulest the power of the seas; and thou calmest the tumult of its waves.” (Psalm 88 (89). Or look at Psalm 107 (108): “He speaks and the stormy sea arises and the waves are lifted up…And He commands the storm and it is calmed into a gentle breeze and its waves are still.”
The disciples’ terror represents what is identified in Sacred Scripture as fear of the Lord.  It is a gift from God (Isaiah 61:1, Proverbs 9:10, Psalm 111:10), which leads to conversion of heart and the journey towards Wisdom.  This gift fear of the Lord moves the disciples toward the day when they freely share in Jesus’ baptism and drink from Jesus’ cup. (Mark 10: 38, 39)  
Jesus the Carpenter and Son of Mary
In his Gospel, Mark also demonstrates Jesus’ human origin. Jesus began to teach in the synagogue in his hometown on the Sabbath. Those who heard Him were amazed: “Where did he get these things, and this wisdom and power to perform miracles?”  They then asked, “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And so they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3-4) Jesus’ words and actions, which were divinely inspired, offended the people in his own hometown because they were envious of Him. 
Son of Mary
In Mark’s narration, those who knew Jesus called Him a “carpenter” and the “son of Mary.” This is in contrast with the Gospels of John and Matthew, where people identify Jesus as the “son of Joseph” or “the son of the carpenter.”
“Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55)  “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?” (John 6:42)
Regarding Mark’s description of Jesus as “son of Mary,” it is rare in Sacred Scripture that a man is identified as the son of his mother especially when the father is known. There are exceptions, such as when the identity of the mother is more relevant to the narrative and meant for greater emphasis.  
However, King David  does say about himself: “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His servant. Oh Lord I am your servant; I am thy servant and the son of thy handmaid.”  (Psalm 115 (116). David stands before God in prayer not as the son of Jesse, but as the son of Jesse’s wife. One does not recognize the greater emphasis on Jesus’ mother in Mark’s Gospel until one steps back and reflects that Jesus identifies God as His Father, God identifies Jesus as “my Son,” and Mark identifies Jesus as “son of Mary.” Mark leaves the reader with an image of Jesus, who is not the “son of the carpenter” and not the “son of Joseph,” but Son of God and son of Mary.
It is argued that Mary after giving birth to Jesus had other children based upon Mark and other Gospels where Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” are mentioned. I make the opposing argument that in Jewish culture, cousins were also identified as brothers and sisters. This can be demonstrated here:
·     Mark identifies “a Mary” who is the mother of Joseph, James, and Salome and companion with Mary Magdalene.  (Mark 15:47, 16:1)
·     Luke identifies “a Mary” who is the mother of James and companion with Mary Magdalene (Luke 23:10).
·     Matthew identifies “a Mary” as the “other Mary” to differentiate from her from Mary Magdalene. (Matthew 28:1)
·     John identifies Mary, the mother of Jesus has having a sister named Mary, (John 19: 25) who is by context Mary, the wife of Clopas -- the other Mary mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and companion with Mary Magdalene. From extra-biblical literature, Mary the wife of Clopas is related to Joseph the foster father of Jesus. Therefore she is sister-in-law to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
·     What can be stated with certainty is that Mary, the wife of Clopas, is the mother of Joseph, James, and Salome. These relatives are identified as Jesus’ brothers and sisters in the Gospel of Mark.
A Nexus of Identities
“Who do the people say that I am?”  Jesus asked His disciples.  They responded: John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the Prophets. These answers represent different systems of belief: Gnostic re-incarnation, the return of one of the prophets, or simply Jesus receiving the spirit of a prophet.
Some believed that Jesus received the spirit of John the Baptist when John said, “I saw the spirit rest upon Jesus” or when John said, “the one who would come after him would be mightier.” Enoch, Elijah and Moses were assumed into heaven. Some therefore supposed that Enoch, Elijah or Moses returned as the person of Jesus, and therefore did not have an earthly father.
When Jesus asks his apostles the same question, He gets this response from Peter: “You are the Messiah.” This is abundantly clear six days later when Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up a high mountain and is transfigured before them; his clothes become dazzling white; whiter than any person can bleach them. (Mark 9: 2-8) They witness Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus. Peter ’s response to Jesus’ question is correct: Jesus is not Elijah, Moses, or one of the other prophets.
 Then a cloud overshadows them on the high mountain and a voice comes from the cloud: “This is my Son, Whom I love, Listen to Him.” 
The Transfiguration in Mark’s Gospel is a fulfillment of the Old Testament narration where Moses leads Aaron and Aaron’s two sons along with 70 elders up Mount Zion. (Exodus 24:9) On the mountain Moses and his companions share a meal with God face to face. Similarly, Jesus leads Peter and the two sons of Zebedee up a high mountain where God speaks directly to Jesus’ disciples, telling them, “This is my Son, Whom I love. Listen to Him.”
The cloud which envelopes them during the Transfiguration is the same glory cloud which enveloped Mount Zion, the Ark of the Covenant, and the First Temple dedicated to God by Solomon. It is also the Holy Spirit, Who overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus in her womb – the Son of God. (Luke 1: 35)  
Mark does not tell us what the apostles understood about Jesus’ dazzling appearance, or what they thought when they heard the prophets speaking with Jesus, nor what they perceived when the Voice came from the cloud. But later when they reflected on the experience, the apostles would have remembered that when Moses interacted with God on Mount Sinai, his face was so bright that the people asked that a veil be placed over it. (Exodus 35:29-33).

Jesus – unlike Moses -- is transfigured before the three apostles from within and not from without. The apostles do not understand this mystery. Jesus urges them to remain silent on what has occurred until “the son of man rises from the dead.” (Mark 9:9) And so they did, discussing among themselves what is meant by “rising from the dead.”
This is critically important because outside the Gospels, the next telling of the Transfiguration is found in 2 Peter 1:16. Now, John Mark was writing his Gospel based on what Peter told him. It is clear that Peter had a fuller understanding of the Transfiguration later when he wrote his letter that said the elect participate in God’s Divine Nature through the Person of Jesus Christ. Moses’ transfiguration is something external to him, but Jesus’ transfiguration is internal. He is the Word made Flesh.
Jesus is Son and God is His Father
Mark’s Gospel changes direction. Previously he spoke about the Father speaking to the Son. Now Mark will show the Son speaking of the Father.
Jesus told his disciples that “no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of man will return on the clouds with great power and glory, not even the Son, only the Father.” (Mark 13: 26, 32)
Jesus is speaking about His Father in the context of the Jewish culture where the son is expected to mature under the watchful eye of his own father while he begins the necessary training to establish a livelihood and build a place for his future bride. The father watches and decides when the son is ready. Neither the bride, nor the son knows the hour when the father will send his son to fetch the bride.
Mark continues the theme of Jesus’ speaking about His Father. After the Lord’s Supper they all travel to Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives.  Jesus prays “Abba, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will.” So the Holy One of God submits His will to the Holy One of Israel. The agony in the garden is the fulfillment of the Old Testament story of King David, who fled to the same Mount of Olives to escape from the clutches of Absalom -- his own son -- who sought his death. (2 Samuel 15:30) David flees Absalom, but Jesus travels to meet his captors. So in the garden, Jesus’ actions demonstrate that He is living within the providence of God the Father, Whom He calls “Papa” or “Abba.”
Jesus Son of Yahweh
Jesus’ identity as Son of Yahweh comes to a crescendo in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus is arrested and brought before the High Priest, who asks Him, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?”  Jesus answered, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62) The high priest rips his garments as a symbol of judgment.
Jesus now has answered His own question asked in the Temple Courtyard, “If the Messiah is the son of David, how does David identify the Messiah as Lord?” It is poignant that Jesus’ truthful response results in an accusation of blasphemy. He is condemned to death.
What is Jesus’ blasphemy?
It is a subtle point, but one which bears reflection. “Blessed One” and “Mighty One” are Hebraic expressions for the Lord God of Israel. Jews refrained from using the name of God in obedience to the second commandment, “Thou shall not take the Lord God’s name in vain.” The High Priest’s question could be restated, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of Yahweh?” 
The High Priest does not see the Son of Man, who is the Messiah, standing before him, but the Jesus, “son of Mary,” who clothed in full humanity. But Jesus asserts, I am the Son of Yahweh. A modernist -- claiming that Christ never claimed to be the Son of God -- may deliberately minimize the High Priest’s question, and therefore the significance of Jesus’ response, but the historical reality leaves little doubt that Jesus’ reply will end in His death.  The High Priest has already heard Jesus proclaimed Lord of the Sabbath, Son of Man, Holy One of God, Son of God, Son of David, Savior and King of Israel. All this is too much to bear for people living with the sin of envy.
King of Israel 
 It  is Jesus’ condemnation in Mark’s Gospel that illuminates another truth about Jesus’ identity, namely that He is not just Son of God, but also King of Israel, traditionally a title for God. But paradoxically it is the Romans who make that confession of faith.
Israel -- in its own history – repeatedly makes the decision that God is not their King. In the Old Testament, the people choose Saul as King over and against God. This was a mortal blow, which led to their downfall. But God promised to renew His kingly relationship with Israel:
·     “I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King.” (Isaiah 43:15)
·     “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)
·     “I will not give my glory to another…” (Isaiah 48:11) 
God is King, and His Kingship will not be given to another. Yet Jesus comes into Israel riding on a young colt proclaimed as King. This echoes the Old Testament scene of the young Solomon. He was paraded into Gihon on his father’s mule and proclaimed as King of Israel. (1 King 2:33)  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people shouted “Hosanna,” which means “save” because that is what kings do – they save their people.
“BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!" (Mark 11:9-10)
In the end Israel again rejected God as their King. Jesus is sent to the Romans and crucified. Over His head on the cross, the Romans place the sign, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” (Mark 15:26)

What Jerusalem rejected the Romans immortalized throughout human history.
edited by Susan Fox