Mark and Mathews Presentation of Jesus Disciples Essay

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Areas to Compare

The Gospel of Mark

Mark 1:16-20, the Calling

Why should we focus on the First Disciples' Calling? This calling was the first of Jesus' ministry to the public. The act of Jesus was a distinction in Jewish society. According to Jewish tradition it was not a norm for Jewish teachers to go to the field and recruit disciples. It is the disciples that sought teachers. Jesus is particular in calling out his first disciples, i.e. Peter, Andrew, John and James. According to Mark, the initiative for recruiting and training to become a disciple always comes from Christ.[footnoteRef:1] [1: J. Donahue, The Theology and Setting of Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark. (Milwaukee, WI:Marquette University Pres, 1983), 15.]

Jesus did not call these disciples to repent. He only asked them to follow him. He transformed the lives of fishermen by asking them to pursue new lines of activities and mission. Such following of Christ is not just about the hearts assent; rather it is a socio-economic reformation of relationship. It is not an extra-ordinary call. It is about changing one's social practice to an alternative one[footnoteRef:2]. Christians in modern day aren't willing to overhaul their social relationships for the purpose of following Christ. In Mark's view, it isn't enough to simply affirm with the heart. It is about the willingness to follow Christ with tangible actions. It requires abandoning your livelihood and trade lifestyle; which isn't easy. According to Donahue's views, the response of discipleship constitutes three elements. 1. They separate from their families and occupations. 2. They commit to follow the caller 3. They participate in the mission and work of the caller. In Marks account, these disciples are willing to give up everything to follow Christ[footnoteRef:3]. [2: B. Witherington III, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. (Grand Rapids, MIWilliam B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001), 85.] [3: R. Bailey, EXPLORING THE THEME OF DISCIPLESHIP IN MARK'S GOSPEL. (2008), 4-5]

Mark 6:6b-13, the Commissioning

Disciples inherit both the destiny and the mission of Christ. Jesus has bestowed both authority and power over evil spirits on his disciples. Mark highlights the power and authority of Jesus throughout his gospel. It is a marvelous type of authority that has not been witnessed before. Not even the greatest of teachers has seen or experienced it before. Such commissioning triggers a realization of positivity from his followers. They go out with such authority and take nothing else with them. They rely on God's provision and his people's hospitality. They carried out the mission; preaching the gospel, casting out demons, praying for the sick and healing them, and leading many people to repentance. Even though the disciples only understood a fraction of Jesus' mission, particularly the aspect of suffering and eventually dying on the cross, God used them to deliver huge miracles. God makes use of those who are imperfect to effect perfect things using his divine authority; mental capacity and the understanding of the mission at hand notwithstanding.[footnoteRef:4] [4: R. Bailey, 6]

Mark 8:34-35, the Cost

The disciples were still in the dark on the cost of following Christ until Jesus was arrested and crucified. Although Jesus made many prophecies concerning his terrible ending, the disciples seem not to have seen or heeded his cues. One must count their losses if they choose to follow Jesus as disciples. Such a decision involves comparing the cost and benefits of venturing into the risk of following. Although it sounds out of line, spiritually, it is a reality.[footnoteRef:5] Some of those who have encountered Jesus believe that it is worth their while following Christ while others avoid the calling and opt to continue with their lifestyle. It must be noted that obeying God's and forfeiting one's old life (Mk. 1:18; 8:34-37) and ways are central to the calling.

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Discipleship involves suffering through the acts of servant hood.[footnoteRef:6] [5: R. Bailey, 6] [6: Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2013), 184-188]

Being a servant in Jesus' society was not a popular option; just like it is today. Sticking with Jesus on his missions was demanding and involved confronting evil powers, and even possibly losing one's life in preparation of Jesus' way.

There are numerous martyrs that are emerging today than ever before in Christian history. Indeed, Jesus' followers are still confronted with evil forces, great misunderstandings and die for the cause of Christ. Mark points out that suffering is not about denial of one's status in the eyes of God or his people. Mark, however, does not intend to exalt suffering by insinuating that it is the only hallmark of a faithful disciple.[footnoteRef:7] [7: P. Achemeier, Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2001), 146.]

Mark is only trying to warn the believers that discipleship comes with a price, and that may be suffering sometimes. He is trying to alert them to prepare to be steadfast if an opportunity for death or suffering arises. This is in emulation of Christ as He suffered on the cross and died. Indeed, the ones who publicly seek to spread the gospel are likely to encounter suffering or even be killed. Mark presents an apocalyptic and eschatological scenario in which the disciples of God and His messengers should expect suffering and even death for proclaiming the message and supporting the mission.[footnoteRef:8] [8: R. Bailey, 7-8]

Faithlessness of the Disciples

The main difference between Mathew and Mark is that in Mark, the disciples are exposed to the nature of their faithfulness. The events in Mark 4:35 is the initial one in a set of three related scenes with boats where the primary cause of the faithfulness of disciples shows as a continuous and deepening weakness (6:45-52; 8:14-21). In the third scenes that has to do with the climate, the followers who still do not have faith in 4:40 do not still understand who Jesus is (8:17, 21). Besides, even though Peter agrees and confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, and even has an understanding of aspects of his teaching (8:29), the disciples continuously misunderstand the mission of Christ- and their own too. They also misunderstand the Jesus' message of the Kingdom and where they stand in it. In chapter 8 verse 27, the disciples are portrayed as they are preoccupied with their status in the Kingdom. They fail to progress in their understanding and faith as we move to the climax of the mission. From a literary perspective, the failure to understand (1:1-8:26) appears to intensify; which leads them to their denial of Jesus (14-15)[footnoteRef:9]. [9: L. Sug-Ho, and G. Jan, The portrayal of the hardening of the disciples' hearts in Mark 8: 14-21. (HTS Theological Studies 65, no. 1, 2009)]

Gospel of Matthew

Calling of disciples

Mathew provides an in-depth understanding of the process of becoming a disciple. Indeed, the phrase "make disciples" is the guiding action word in the end commission; it is therefore not surprising that the term disciple is a key word in Mathew than it is in the other synoptic texts of the Gospel. In statistical reflection, it occurs over 73 times in Mathew while it is seen only 46 times in Mark. Indeed, it is the only reference to the followers of Christ in the gospels.[footnoteRef:10] [10: J. Park, The Disciples in Matthew.]

The introductory verse to the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 5:1, it speaks of how he went up to the mountain after he saw….....

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Donahue, John R. The Theology and Setting of Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1983

Witherington III, Ben. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

Green, Joel B., Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Intervarsity Press, 2013.

Achtemeier, Paul J., Joel B. Green, and Marianne M. Thompson. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001

Park, Jim. "The Disciples in Matthew." Accessed September 14, 2016.

Bailey, Rye. "EXPLORING THE THEME OF DISCIPLESHIP IN MARK'S GOSPEL." 2008, Accessed September 14, 2016.

Lee, Sug-Ho, and Jan G. Van der Watt. "The portrayal of the hardening of the disciples' hearts in Mark 8: 14-21." HTS Theological Studies 65, no. 1 (2009)

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