Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Gospel of Mark

                                                                             Gospel of Mark
               The Gospel According to Mark, one of the four Gospels in the New Testament which talk about the life of Jesus Christ, contains some of the heaviest usage of figurative language in the Bible. Whether making comparisons of normal folk, or describing God in allegorical ways, the use of metaphors and figurative language in general is very frequently seen.
               The best and most discernible example of use of metaphor is in chapter 4 of the Gospel According to Mark. As Jesus Christ teaches by the sea side to a vast number of people, he taught them in parables with common usage of metaphors. When Jesus says "Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side…But when the sun was up, it was scorched…and it withered away", he later explains to the confused people that the sower is sowing the message of God, but when they hear it, Satan will come and take away the message that lies in their hearts. By usage of metaphors, Jesus is teaching the people about the message of god, by using a sower and his seeds as an example. This is one of the best examples of figurative language in the Gospel According to Mark. Later, when Jesus continues on and says "is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not to be set on a candlestick?", he is speaking of the message of god and how it should be told and spread among the people, instead of being kept to themselves and hidden away. Lastly, when Jesus says "Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God, or with what comparison shall we compare it," his usage of figurative language as a simile by saying in response "it is like a grain of mustard seed, which when sown in the earth…it growth up, and becometh greater that all herbs…" proves to be another instance of the apparent usage of figurative language in the Gospel According to Mark.
               Of the four Gospels in the New Testament, the Gospel According to Mark has significant usage of figurative language. In the teachings of Jesus Christ in this Gospel, he uses metaphors and similes in the form of parables while speaking to the people. Such figurative language usage is noteworthy because of the age of the text and is an example from which the origins of figurative language can be traced back to.
Jesus Christ lived a very full, if short, life.  He did and accomplished more in his thirty years than many men do in twice that.  The gospels each tell their versions of his life.  Of the four, I found the gospel of Mark to be the most interesting.  I enjoy the style of writing in this gospel more than the others.  I feel it gives a better summary of the events in Christ's life.  Whereas the other gospels tend to get bogged down with parables or spend too much time on specific events, the gospel of Mark moves along at a good pace and adequately gets the message across.
               A majority of Mark deals with Christ's travels throughout the area around the Sea of Galilee and the various miracles he performed during that time.  Most of these involved healing those with leprosy or other plagues, exorcising demons, or curing the blind/deaf/dumb.  The stories of Christ feeding thousands with but a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish are also told, as is the story of Jesus walking on water.  All of the miracles are described well, without getting too wordy.  The style of writing also makes them believable.
               Only a handful of Christ's parables are included in Mark.  One speaks of how "the sower soweth the word."  In this parable, Jesus speaks of himself as a sower and compares spreading the Word of God to planting seeds (the Word being the seeds).  He also compares people to the different types of ground you can plant seeds in.  At the end of the parable, Christ says that any man who spreads the seed also spreads the kingdom of God, and any man that withholds the seed shall see the kingdom of God withheld from him (Mark 4:24-26).  This is a beautifully written passage.  Without coming out and saying, it, Christ makes it apparent that it's not enough to merely worship; one must also go out and preach to the unsaved and try to help them see the light.
               Another parable tells of the rich young man who asks Christ how he may attain the kingdom of God.  Christ asks if he as followed the Ten Commandments, and the young man says he has.  Then Christ tells him that he has to give all his possessions to the poor because he will have no need of such things in Heaven.  This saddens the young man because he has many possessions.  After the young man left, Christ told his disciples that it is difficult for the rich to get into Heaven because they put too much faith into their riches.  "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God," (Mark 10:25).  This is a poignant message.  Christ then says that a man who gives up everything for his faith will be well rewarded in Heaven.  This parable is timeless.  It speaks of the downfall greed can force upon you.  In the end, no matter how much you have, you can't take it with you.
               One of the most widely told stories of Jesus is written in Mark.  Upon visiting the Temple in Jerusalem, Christ finds it is overrun with merchants and moneychangers.  Enraged, Jesus overturns the tables and calls the temple a den of thieves.  This angered the priests and scribes of the city, and they sought to destroy Jesus.  Perhaps it was this act, above all others, that truly set the priests in motion to bring about Christ's death.
               The last two chapters of Mark tell of Christ's trial before Pilate, his crucifixion, and his resurrection.  This was perhaps the only part of the gospel that I felt was rushed.  Surprisingly little (in this gospel) is written about such an important series of events, especially where the resurrection was concerned.  I feel this takes away from the importance and overall effect of Christ's return.
               I look at the gospel of Mark more as a biographical sketch than anything else.  While there is some dogma involved, it is held in check in favor of telling about the life of Jesus Christ.  Because of a heavier emphasis on biography, I find that Mark is more believable then the other gospels.

References:  NIV Study Bible.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI. 1995.
Andy Gaus  The Unvarnished Gospel , 2001.
Rev. Steve Dunkley

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