I briskly traversed through the Gospel of Mark this morning. I normally progress ploddingly through the Γέγραπται, but sometimes it’s helpful to conduct a sprightly trot through a gospel in order to obtain a better sense of the surplus and sundry instances of Jesus offending people. It is absolutely vital that we come to grips with the fact that – according to the theological experts of Jesus’ day (and in 2022) – Jesus was considered a SUBPAR Bible teacher. By our man-made standards, Jesus’ interpretation, application, and teaching is considered ‘spiritual milk‘ at best, and blasphemy at worst! The elite exegetical societies (both 2,000 years ago and now) venerate impressive cathedrals, academia, PhD pedigrees, published books, and traditional religious environments; but Jesus mostly preached outside, he was blue-collar, he recruited and ordained uneducated fishermen, and his most intense disagreements were typically with the types of people we fawn over. What we tend to revere as “spiritual meat” is not what we see in the sermons and parables of Jesus. The style, substance, and Spirit-led choices of Jesus of Nazareth simply do not align with the manifest emphasis and preoccupation of the consumeristic, complacent, cautious church in modern times (or two millennia ago).

Read through the following excerpts from the Gospel of Mark, and be heartily reminded of what true Spiritual Meat is, and be bowled over by the style and emphasis of Jesus’ teaching and tactics…

“When they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (2:16-17)

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (2:27)

And Jesus’ family went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (3:21)

His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers? …Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (3:31-35)

And Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear. …they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven. …Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (4:9,12,24)

And they took offense at him. …And he marveled because of their unbelief. (6:3,6)

“There are many traditions that they observe. …Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! …thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (7:4,6-9,13)

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (7:21-23)

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (8:12)

“Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?” …And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (8:17-18,21)

He taught them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (8:31-37)

“O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” (9:19)

“If you can!?” (9:23)

He was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. (9:31-32)

“What were you discussing on the way?” (9:33)

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (9:35)

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. (9:38-40)

And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (10:5-9)

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (10:13-15)

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (10:17-22)

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” (10:25-26)

And Jesus’ disciples were amazed and afraid that Jesus was walking into certain death heading into Jerusalem! And Jesus said, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (10:32-34)

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (10:35-38)

“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (10:43-45)

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (11:15-17)

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? You are quite wrong.” (12:24,27)

*An extremely rare moment of Jesus high-fiving a Scribe! —> And a scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that God is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (12:32-34)

“Beware of the scribes.” (12:38)

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (13:1-2)

And while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment and poured it over his head. And some indignantly said to themselves, “Why was the ointment wasted like that!? This ointment could have been sold for $60k and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (14:3-9)

Jesus said, “One of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” (14:18-19)

Jesus said, “This is my body; take it and eat it.” And Jesus took a cup, and said “This is my blood; drink it.” (14:22-23)

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. (14:26-31)

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (15:34)

But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. (16:11)

And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. (16:13)

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. (16:14)