Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of Mark. Mark 4:26-29. Jesus said: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were scattering seeds on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.” Only Mark records the parable of the seeds’ growth. Sower and harvester are the same. The emphasis is on the power of the seed to grow itself without intervention. Mysteriously, it produces blade and ear and grain. Thus the kingdom of God initiated by Jesus in proclaiming the Word develops quietly yet powerfully until it is fully established by Jesus at the final judgment (CSB)…………. Mark 4:30-32. Mark also uses the parable of the mustard seed to describe the kingdom of God. The mustard seed is among the tiniest of seeds, yet it grows into a large bush, as does the kingdom of God, of which Mark is noting the universality. To Mary Healy “It is as if Jesus is thinking aloud, searching for ways to help his listeners to grasp the mystery of the kingdom. Because the kingdom is a divine reality, it cannot be defined or contained in human categories. It can be understood only by using analogies, word pictures that force the listeners to think and ponder at a deeper level. The parable of the mustard seed, which grows into a large, shady bush thus points to the future worldwide reach of the kingdom of God (Healy)………………………………………. Mark 8:18-19. Jesus questioned them: “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him: “Twelve.”….”Do you still not understand?” The huge supply of bread is a echo of the manna in the wilderness when Moses was leading his people out of Egypt. The mass of bread looks forward to the Eucharist, when Jesus will literally give his body and blood in every church in the world. The bread represents the kingdom of heaven in its largess, love, power and grace. Jesus also echoes the prophetic indictment of Israel. Twelve is a significant number here because the twelve tribes of Israel will be brought into the kingdom and will sit on thrones judging their tribes. Also the seven baskets left over in feeding the four thousand is significant to the Universal Father because he created seven superuniverses, and seven is the number for many other beings and objects……………. Mark 8:29. Jesus asked them: “Who do you think I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. This episode is the turning point in Mark’s account of Jesus’ public ministry. Popular opinions agreed in regarding him as a prophet. The disciples, by contrast, believe him to be the Messiah. Jesus acknowledges this identification but prohibits them from making his messianic office known to avoid confusing it with ambiguous contemporary ideas on the nature of that office. According to Healy, Peter’s confession serves as a hinge, marking the transition from the end of the Bread Section to the Beginning of the travel narrative. They first go north and then south toward Jerusalem, and because this is Mark’s gospel, it will be Jesus’ first and last trip to Jerusalem, which is both a geographical and spiritual journey in which the disciples learn that the way of sharing in Jesus’ glory is by first following him on the way of the cross…………………………. Mark 8:34-35. Jesus said to the crowd and his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me….whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” This utterance of Jesus challenges all believers to authentic discipleship and total commitment to himself through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself. Jesus is saying, in other words: “Don’t imagine that to follow me is to merely come along as a passive spectator of healings, miracles and wise teachings. As I have made clear, my destination is the cross.” These words had concrete meanings to Mark’s first readers, some of whose fellow Christians had been thrown to the beasts or crucified during the persecutions of Emperor Nero…………………………. The Commentary comes from the Catholic Study Bible (NABRE) and Mary Healy in Commentary on Sacred Scripture)

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