Thursday, November 10, 2011
Jesus as the New Adam in the Gospel of Mark
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It is clear that 3 of the 4 Gospel writers link Jesus to Genesis. The most famous is John who begins his Gospel in the same words as Genesis “In the beginning” and continues on with a 7-day creation story. You have to hunt a little, but the creation week is there. Luke has the genealogy of Jesus and traces His line all the way back to Adam, who he calls “the son of God.” Matthew opens his Gospel with a genealogy that traces Jesus as far back as Abraham, who lives from Genesis 11- 25.
Mark surprised me though. It seemed clear to me that there is no direct reference between the Gospel of Mark and Genesis. I wasn’t looking for one. I had read Genesis and Mark several times especially the beginning chapters of each book and nothing jumped from the page as being obvious, until this past week.
Mark is portraying Jesus as a New Adam, come to conquer where Adam failed and restore this weary world so lost and damaged by sin.
Starting into verse one Mark says, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Two things here began raising my suspicions about a Genesis connection. First the opening words “The beginning”, Genesis opens, “In the beginning”. Is a guy allowed to say the words ‘the beginning’ and not refer to Genesis? Sure. Now the second thing is how Mark calls Jesus the “Son of God.” While on the surface, we might all be thinking, yes, what’s the big connection to Genesis? Genesis and St. Luke tell us that Adam was a son of God. Not in the same way of course.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” We see this same phrase again in Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.
So reading Genesis 5 can help us interpret Genesis 1, when it says that Adam and Eve were made in God’s image and likeness. It means that God is fathering children, and that Adam is God’s son. Besides that, St. Luke tells us in his Genealogy of Jesus that Jesus came from Luke 3:38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Mark continues this Genesis theme at Jesus’ baptism. In Mark 1:10-11 And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."
Again Jesus’ Sonship is being proclaimed and a vision of the Holy Spirit like a dove descends upon Him. Adam receives God’s Spirit as well.
Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Jesus already had the Holy Spirit, yet this was done to show us what would happen at our own baptism. Also at our baptism, like with Jesus, the heavens were opened. So at our own baptism the heavens are opened to us, which were at one time closed beginning with Adam.
Look what happens next to Jesus in Mark. Just like after Adam’s creation with the wild animals, He was then tempted by the devil, and then God drove him out of the garden. So now Jesus. Mark 1:12, 13 And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the desert. And he was in the desert forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan; and he was with beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After Jesus successfully defeats the devil’s temptations, Jesus begins proclaiming the Good News that finally the Kingdom of God is once again at hand.
Jesus then goes into a synagogue on the Sabbath, that 7th day of the week, when our first parents fell to the temptation of the devil. Jesus casts out a demon out of a man, and then continues on that same day to Simon Peters’ house where his mother-in-law is in bed sick. He then heals this woman on the Sabbath. I think that the man with the demon and the sick woman represent a kind of healing for the old Adam and Eve.
Mark continues to tell us strange but important details. He says Mark 1:32 And when it was evening, after sunset,
Why even mention when this is taking place? What is significant about sunset? To the Jews, it means the beginnings of a new day. This day is Sunday, the first day of the week. The day Jesus would rise from the dead and begin a new creation beginning with Himself and then extending to the rest of humanity.
Mark says this Mark 1:32 And when it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all that were ill and that were possessed with devils.
This is the story of the whole world, ill and possessed with devils. Jesus comes as a new beginning, one filled with hope.
Mark concludes chapter 1 of his Gospel with the story of a leper. Now a leper was not allowed to enter into the towns and had to cry out to near-by people that he had leprosy. The leper had to stay out of the towns. Jesus, on the other hand, had been going from town to town to proclaim the Gospel.
They meet, the leper asks to be healed, and Jesus heals him on the spot.
The leper in his joy proclaims Jesus in all of the towns. Jesus is then too popular to openly enter a town least He be crushed. He must stay in the country.
Jesus and the leper switch roles. The leper had to stay away from the towns, but now healed, goes from town to town to proclaim Jesus. Jesus, on the other hand, was going town to town to proclaim the Gospel, had to now stay in the country. When Jesus healed the leper, Jesus did not get leprosy, but He got the effects of it in that He had to stay out of the towns.
This is what happens to Jesus on the Cross, that new tree of life, where the New Adam lays down His life for His Bride, the Church. He does not sin, but receives the effects of sin, namely suffering and death.
Mark proclaims a New Adam and a new creation in the beginning of his Gospel.