Mark said that apropos of our last session, that blasphemy was to discount God and continuing to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is an eternal sin, but in Matthew’s gospel, there is forgiveness even for that sin. Mark then talks about communion and how Paul wrote to the people of Corinth about what is important in communion. The key is not the bread and wine, but the act of eating at the same time with other believers. We talked about communion practices and the fact that Catholics and Missouri Synod Lutherans have closed communion just to their members. We then talked about the religious community that we feel comfortable attending. We also talked about being worthy to partake in communion and how it used to be a requirement to visit with the pastor before you could go to communion. No headway into Mark chapter 4, maybe next time.
Mark started by asking about evil spirits. They recognized Jesus. What does that mean? What are evil spirits? Was it people with a mental illness, or was it people who were non-believers and were very vociferous about they lack of belief? Matt raised the question about whether Jesus knew who he was, because he didn’t do a very good job of surrounding himself with influential people, the disciples were just “folks”, common ordinary people. The Jews were looking for a new David as the Messiah, not someone who came in and challenged the religious leadership and did nothing about the Roman occupation. But Jesus had the authority to cast out demons. What does it mean to cast out demons and where did he get the authority to do so, and why did the demons obey him? Why was blasphemy such an important sin that you could be killed for being convicted of blasphemy. Many believers spoke out against Jesus and were guilty of blasphemy, but Jesus spoke out against the ruling hierarchy and they thought that was blasphemy and importantly, they had the power to punish Jesus because of that. To sin against the Holy Spirit is a conscious denial and is the ultimate or eternal sin. Gene commented that he would like to strike verse 29 because it is so hard to know what this sin against the Holy Spirit is and he worried about it so much as a youth.
This passage presents the idea of the Sabbath and keeping it holy. A lot of discussion takes place about how our concept of the Sabbath has changed over time. Mark talks about the way the Dutch Reformed church in Pella enforced the Sabbath rigorously. Mark also says he thinks Jesus was being sassy in this section. John mentions how the original concept of the Sabbath goes back to Genesis and creation. Is the Sabbath logical or authority only? In Exodus it is the law, while in Deuteronomy it is the indication of freedom for people. Is the church’s role in the Sabbath a resting place or a launching place? We discussed the Sabbath as Tradition vs Law vs Self-logic. Is it part of keeping humans alive and well. What about people who have to work on the Sabbath, like fireman and nurses? Orthodox Jews have to have someone come to their houses to perform even such simple tasks as turning off the stove. Is that really necessary? Does it not say that there is a class thing going on, as someone has to do the work in order to make sure that the Orthodox Jews don’t have to commit the sin of working?
We then moved on to the discussion of communion practices such as how often it should be offered. Mark believes that communion can take place as an ordinary meal and then visit. Some churches ban people who sin from having communion. Isn’t that what communion is for, to allow forgiveness of sins?
This is the first set of notes in Paul Horick’s notebook. We discussed how Jesus knew he had powers to provide forgiveness of sin and thus to heal people. Mark offered that peace offerings were a way to forgive sin, and then reviewed the Abraham sacrifice of Isaac which was a significant offering and showed Abraham’s trust in God. Is there a connection between sickness and sin, so that when sin is forgiven, the illness goes away? There is an evolution about our awareness of our sins. Is there a connection between physical well-being and an individual’s spiritual health? Mark reviewed a situation in which a woman gives birth, the baby had trouble and the doctor prayed with them so they didn’t call Mark. It caught Mark short so “you don’t need the priest” if the doctor prayed for the baby. Can anyone pray for God’s intercession? In the Old Testament, forgiveness was part of the sacrificial lamb ceremony but in the New Testament, Jesus is the sacrificial lamb so we don’t have to offer sacrifices. Do the Jews still offer sacrifices?