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Lesson #4

Who Is This Man?

(1: 16-45)
In Lesson #3 we closely examined Marks Prologue (1: 1-15),
and we learned that the Gospel according to Mark begins with
a proclamation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Further, we learned that his dramatic entry into history was
foretold 700 years earlier by Isaiah the prophet, and we learned
that John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus mission, the
inauguration of a new age: the Kingdom of God.

Against the background of the 1
state-sponsored persecution
of the Church in Rome by the Emperor Nero (A.D. 64-68),
Marks message is an urgent call to action addressed to a
frightened community, a call to stand fast regardless of the cost.

We also learned in Lesson #3 that Mark intensifies
his message by employing a variety of rhetorical and
stylistic devices:

Mark tells his readers who Jesus isthe Son of God, but he
withholds that information from the main characters in his
story, creating narrative tension;
Mark uses the connective and repeatedly (of the 11,022
words in Mark, 1,084 are and);
Mark uses the word immediately repeatedly (41 times,
often in combination: and Immediately. In contrast,
Matthew uses immediately only 5 times; Luke only once);
Mark uses the historical present tense frequently (suddenly
shifting a past event to the grammatically present tense,
intensifying the sense of urgency).

Lesson #4 begins with the echo of 1: 14-15 still in our ears:
After John had been arrested Jesus came into Galilee
proclaiming the gospel of God and saying: The appointed time
has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is fast approaching;
repent and believe in the gospel.

Verses 14-15 strike a dissonant, ominous chord. We know that
Johns arrest will result in his murder by Herod Antipas, and in
these verses Jesus steps in and takes Johns place, not simply
continuing Johns work, but expanding it from Judea north to
Galilee, the 1
century hotbed of radical thinking and
revolutionary movements.

Marks readers would have sensed the danger immediately,
trembling at the inevitable conflict they knew would follow.

Once in Galilee in 1: 16, Jesus actions occur with
rapid fire rapidity: Jesus calls his disciples and they
immediately abandon their nets and their families;
he preaches at the synagogue in Capernaum, people
are astonished and demons cry out; hundreds are
healed; a leper is cleansed; demons dot the
landscape; crowds grow to dangerous size, following
Jesus everywhere, crushing him in the throng: he
cannot enter a town because of them.
And the overwhelming question becomes: Who is
this man who can say and do such things?

As we enter the main body of
Marks gospel (1: 16 8: 26), Jesus
initiates his public ministry in rural
Galilee, 100 miles north of
Jerusalem, far away from the
center of political and religious

Arbel Cliff
Jesus boyhood home
Headquarters of Jesus public ministry

Dr. Creasy teaching on the Arbel Cliff overlooking the northwestern shore of
the Sea of Galilee. Ninety percent of Jesus public ministry took place here.
Herod the Great, pronounced king of the
Jews by the Roman Senate, brutally rules
all of Judea, Samaria and Galilee as a Roman
vassal king for 34 years (37-4 B.C.),
murdering anyoneincluding his own wife
and childrenwho threaten him;
Upon his death, Herods three sons inherit
his kingdom, Herod Antipas ruling as
Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, A.D. 6-39
(Herod Antipas murders John the Baptist
and interrogates Jesus);
In A.D. 6 Judas of Galilee, leader of the
emerging Zealot party (the terrorists of
their day), leads an armed revolt in
response to a census imposed for Roman
tax purposes; it is brutally crushed;
The Emperor Caligula (A.D. 37-41) accuses
Herod Antipas of planning a rebellion
against Rome and exiles him, clamping
down on Galilee.

Galilee was a 1
hotbed of rebellion and
radical thought!
This crisis under Caligula (A.D. 37-41)
marks the first open break between
Rome and the Jews, a break that will
result in catastrophic, all-out war in 30
Two brothers, Jacob and Simon, lead a
revolt against Rome, concentrated in
Galilee (A.D. 46-48); it is crushed and the
brothers are executed;
Sporadic insurrections continue in
Galilee and throughout Palestine until the
outbreak of the Great Jewish War in A.D.
In A.D. 66 the Emperor Nero appoints
Vespasian to crush the Jewish rebellion,
and he begins at its origin, clearing
Galilee of its insurgents.


In the Gospel according to John, when
Phillip tells Nathanael: We have
found the one about whom Moses
wrote in the law, and also the
prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from
Nazareth, Nathanael replies: Can
anything good come from Nazareth?
(1: 45).

Nathanaels response not only
expresses his skepticism of the tiny,
insignificant Galilean town of
Nazareth, but also of the reputation of
Galilee as a center of radical thinking
and rebellious political movements.

Nothing but trouble could possibly
come from Galilee!

With that in mind, lets
drop into the text and
have a look!
The Gospel According to Mark
Who is this man? (1: 16 8: 26)

The first half of Marks gospel focuses on Jesus identity: Who is this man who
can say and do such things? Here, our narrative moves rapid-fire from one
scene to another, each scene further exposing Jesus identity, each scene
adding to our narrative tension, and each scene amplifying the growing conflict
in our story. Follow the movement:

Jesus calls his disciples (1: 16-20)
An evil spirit attacks (1: 21-28)
People are amazed (1: 27)
Peters mother-in-law is healed; great crowds gather (1: 29-34)
Jesus retreats to a solitary place for prayer (1: 35-39)
A man with leprosy is healed (1: 40-45)
A paralytic is healed (2: 1-12)
People are amazed (2: 12)

The Gospel According to Mark
Who is the man? (1: 16 8: 26), cont.

Levi (Matthew) is called as a disciple (2: 13-17)
Johns disciples and the Pharisees attack: fasting (2: 18-22)
Pharisees attack: picking grain on the Sabbath (2: 23-27)
Pharisees attack: healing on the Sabbath (3: 1-6)
Pharisees and Herodians plot to kill Jesus (3: 6)
Large crowds gather (3: 7-12)
Evil spirits cry out (3: 11-12)
Apostles appointed (3: 13-19)
Jesus is attacked (3: 20-35)
Jesus family says that he is out of his mind (3: 21)
Teachers of the Law claim he is possessed by Beelzebub (3: 22)
Jesus mother and brothers want to take charge of him (3: 31-35)
Jesus denounces his mother and brothers (3: 33-35)

The Gospel According to Mark
Who is the man? (1: 16 8: 26), cont.

Jesus teaches (4: 1-34)
Parable of the sower (4: 1-20)
Parable of the lamp (4: 21-25)
Parable of the growing seed (4: 26-29)
Parable of the mustard seed (4: 30-32)
Many other parables (4: 33-34)
Jesus calms a storm (4: 35-41)
Disciples are terrified (4: 41)
Jesus heals (5: 1-34)
Demon-possessed man of Gaderene (5: 1-20)
Jairus daughter (5: 21-24a; 35-43)
Woman subject to bleeding (5: 24b-34)
Jesus is rejected at Nazareth (6: 1-6a)

The Gospel According to Mark
Who is the man? (1: 16 8: 26), cont.

Jesus sends out the twelve (6: 6b-13)
John is murdered (6: 14-29)
Jesus retreats to a solitary place to pray (6: 30-44)
Jesus teaches and feeds the 5,000 (6: 33-44)
Jesus walks back home on the water (6: 45-56)
Pharisees and teachers of the Law attack: eating with unclean hands (7: 1-23)
Disgusted, Jesus leaves Galilee
Tyre (7: 24-30)
Jesus encounters the Syrphoenician woman (7: 25-30)
Decapolis (7: 31-37)
Jesus encounters the deaf and mute man (7: 32-35)
People are overwhelmed and amazed (7: 37)
Jesus returns to Galilee (8: 1-26)

In this action sequence our
narrative jumps quickly from one
scene to another, and as it does
we learn that:

Jesus days are packed with activity;
With each day the crowds grow ever
larger, hemming him in, creating a
claustrophobic sense in the reader;
Demons dog Jesus steps at every turn;
The religious leaders flat out reject
Jesus own family rejects him;
Opposition against Jesus intensifies;
Jesus grows increasingly impatient
with his disciples lack of understanding.

Now, lets take a close
look at our opening
scene, Jesus choosing
his disciples, his inner

And passing along beside the Sea of Galilee he
saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon,
casting a net in the sea for they were fishers and
Jesus said to them, Come after me and I will make
you to become fishers of men, and immediately
leaving the nets they followed him.

And going on a little farther, he saw James the
son of Zebedee and John his brother and they were
in the boat mending the nets and immediately he
called them and leaving their father Zebedee in the
boat with the hired servants they went after him.

Notice in this literal translation
that Mark continues the repetitive
use of and and and
immediately, moving the action
forward quickly.
Notice, too, that we are given no
background whatsoever of a prior
relationship between Jesus and
Peter/Andrew, James/John. In
Mark they appear to be complete
strangers who instantly leave their
business and families to follow


How odd.
We know from reading the Gospel
according to John, Chapters 1 & 2 that
Jesus has spent considerable time with
his potential disciples, even before he
relocates from Nazareth to Capernaum;
We know that Peter, Andrew, James and
John are from Bethsaida, a village a few
miles north of Capernaum, and that Peter
and his wife, as well as Andrew, live in his
mother-in-laws home at Capernaum;
We know that Zebedee and his sons,
James and John, are partners in a
commercial fishing business on the Sea of
Galilee with Peter and Andrew; and
We know that Salome, James and Johns
mother, is Marys sister (or sister-in-law),
making James and John Jesus cousins.


So why does Mark
omit all these details?

The Answer!
Mark carefully selects and
arranges his material to suit his
narrative purpose, which is to
speed his story forward and to
create an intense sense of
urgency, not to give an
unabridged account of Jesus
public ministry.

Mark strips away all excessive
detail, streamlining his story
and focusing with laser-like
sharpness on achieving his
narrative purpose.

And they enter [note the historical present tense] into
Capernaum and immediately on the Sabbath, entering into the
synagogue, he taught and they were astonished at his teaching
for he was teaching them as one having authority and not as
the scribes, and immediately there was in their synagogue a
man with an unclean spirit and he cried out, saying What have
you to do with us, Jesus Nazarene? Have you come to destroy
us? I know who you arethe Holy One of God! and Jesus
commanded him sternly saying, Be quite and come out of
him, and throwing him into convulsions the unclean spirit let
out a shriek and he came out of him and they were all
astonished so that they debated among themselves saying,
What is this? A new teaching with authority and he
commands the unclean spirits and they obey him! And the
news of him went forth immediately into all the surrounding
region of Galilee.

The passage opens with the historical
present tense, suddenly shifting a past
event into the grammatically present
Again, Mark uses and and
immediately repetitively, driving the
action forward;
People are astonished at his teaching,
asking themselves: Who can this be?;
We meet our first (of many) unclean
spirits or demons;
Unlike the characters in the story, the
unclean spirit knows precisely who Jesus
is, as do we, his readers;
The crowds astonishment grows;
News of Jesus spreads like wildfire
throughout Galilee.


And immediately after leaving the synagogue they came
into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Now Simons mother-in-law lay sick with a fever and
immediately they tell him [note again the historical present
tense] about her and approaching her he raised her, holding her
hand, and the fever left her and she ministered to them.

That evening after sunset they brought to him all who were
sick and those who were demon possessed and the whole city
was gathered at the door and he healed many who were sick
with various diseases and he cast out many demons and he did
not allow the demons to speak because they knew him.

Mark continues the repetitive use of
and and immediately, as well as
employing the historical present tense;
Jesus casts out an unclean spirit in the
synagogue and he heals Peters mother-
in-law. News of this flies through the
region, and by sundown the entire city
turns out at Peters house, bringing with
them the sick and demon possessed, all
of whom Jesus heals;
In this scene we begin to see the
prominence of unclean spirits or
demons that populate Marks
narrativeand and we learn that Jesus
has complete control over them, as he
had over Satan in the temptation scene.


And very early in the night, rising up, he went out
and departed to a lonely place and prayed there and
Simon and his companions hunted him and they
found him and said to him, Everyone is searching
for you, and he says to them [historical present
tense+, Let us go somewhere else to the towns
nearby in order that I may proclaim there also, for
this is what I came out for and he came proclaiming
in their synagogues throughout all Galilee and
driving out the demons.

Notice in 1: 36 that Simon and his
companions hunted him *Jesus+.

The Greek word is katadiwvkw
[pronounced, kata-de--ko], a compound
of katav *the preposition after+ and
diwvkw *the verb to pursue, or to
hunt+, a very aggressive word.
As when Mark says that the Holy Spirit
drives Jesus into the desert after his
baptism, rather than Matthew and Lukes
more passive led him, here Peter and
his friends hunt Jesus, rather the more
passive went looking for.


And a leper comes to him [historical present tense]
begging him and falling on his knees saying to him, If you are
willing you can cleanse me, and being filled with compassion
he stretched out his hand and touched him and says to him
[historical present tense+, I am willing; be cleansed, and
immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed, and
sternly warning him, immediately he put him out and he says to
him [historical present tense+, See that you say nothing to
anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your
cleansing what Moses commanded for a testimony to them,
but he, going out, began to proclaim many things and to spread
the news so that he was no longer able to enter a city openly,
but he was outside in desert places and they came to him from

As we end this opening scene (1:
16-45), Jesus has:

Assembled the inner circle of his
disciples: Peter, Andrew, James and John;
Cast out an unclean spirit on the
Sabbath at the synagogue in Capernaum;
Cured Peters mother-in-law on the
Cured many who were sick and demon-
possessed, later that evening;
Traveled throughout Galilee, curing the
sick and driving out demons;
Cleansed a leper; and
The crowds have grown so large that
Jesus is unable to enter a town.


Notice that as Mark launches his
story, all of these actions take
place in a very short period of
time, all of them in linear fashion,
with trip-hammer rapidity.

This quick movement in a straight
line will continue throughout
Marks entire gospel, ending
dramatically and abruptly at the
empty tomb.

We have witnessed Marks
sparse narrative with its
noticeable lack of detail,
deliberately crafted to propel the
narrative forward;
We have noticed, too, Marks
carefully employed stylistic and
rhetorical devices that drive the
narrative ever-faster; and
We have seen how Marks
narrator shares information with
his readers that he withholds
from the major characters in his
story, creating escalating tension.

This is truly superb
craftsmanship, and we
have only just begun
Marks gospel!

Now, let me share with
you some photos of the
places Jesus knew.


Jesus Journey from Nazareth to Capernaum


Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Entrance to the archaeological site of Capernaum.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Capernaums 4
-century synagogue, built over the remains of
the original 1
-century basalt structure.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Flooring of the original 1
-century basalt synagogue where Jesus taught.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
The archaeological remains of St. Peters house at Capernaum.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
The church built over the remains of St. Peters house.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Olive Press, part of everyday life at Capernaum in Jesus day.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
St. Peter, himself. Pope John-Paul II visited Capernaum in March, 2000.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Morning on the Sea of Galilee.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Boats on the Sea of Galilee.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
Dr. Creasys colleague, Daniel Carmel, casting a net on the Sea of Galilee.

Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

Jesus Calling His Disciples (mosaic), c. 1270. St. Marks Basilica, Venice.

1. Why does Jesus relocate from Nazareth to Capernaum
to begin his public ministry? Why not go to Jerusalem,
the major urban population center and the center of
both religious and political power?
2. Why does Jesus choose Peter, Andrew, James and
John as his first disciples?
3. In our brief opening scene Jesus heals the sick and
drives out many demons. Why does Mark emphasize
this, rather than Jesus teaching, as does Matthew?
4. Why does Jesus forbid the demons to speak? Why
does he forbid the leper to speak? Why does the
leper do so anyway?
5. How does this opening scene affect your
understanding of who Jesus is and what he means to

Copyright 2014 by William C. Creasy
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