At the time of the New testament writers, a form of literature was well established where authors imagined what famous figures said on their death bed or in their final blessing. They are called ‘testaments’, Like a last will and testament but delivered by the person while still alive. William Loader, Biblical Scholar, theologian & Uniting Church Minister puts it that, “The gospel writers would have been aware of the importance of people’s famous last words and made conciderable efforts to reconstruct what they pictured Jesus would have said, drawing on the resources at their disposal. (for Mark the oldest of the gospel’s 66CE about 25 – 30 years after Jesus, he would have had written records as well as first hand accounts) Our passage needs to be heard in that light. If Matthew’s version of events has Jesus challenge people with an image of judgement, (as we saw last week) Mark’s is a call to watch for signs of the end.”
Speeches about the climax of history frequently use the language of apocalyptic. Apolcalypse means revelation and apocalyptic is used to describe ways of speaking of the end of time and the colourful event s that lead up to it. This is not just in the bible The cinema has a whole genre of apocalyptic movies. There is usually one out each summer holiday season. Mark apocalyptic imagery come from the OT images from Isaiah of Darkened sun, dimmed moon and falling stars. Mark then uses Daniel’s language with the ‘son of man’ receiving authority. Mark’s hearers would have known the reference which went on with the ’son of man’ coming after centuries of oppression by ‘animals’ who symbolised foreign political powers (Dan7). Remember this is at the end of Mark’s gospel. They would have known Jesus as ‘son of man’ Demonstrated in the whole of the gospel preceding. Seen in a ministry that subverted the powers which destroy people. They saw that Jesus will outlast all such oppressors. This is a affirmation of hope. And we are invited to share the hope – and to share the yearning. Mark is a restrained text for its time. Even though it is apocalyptic. Why would I say restrained. – Context Mark’s hearers would have known about oppression. They could have been living in Rome Persecuted as Nero was Emperor. They knew first hand about the brutal consequences of the Jewish revolt 66-70 CE, With the Romans starving out Jerusalem before breaking through and destroying the temple. They related Jesus’ to earlier warnings about false messiah’s and false prophets. They knew how to read the signs of the times. In Mark’s view their time was the last times!! Maybe that why there is no infancy narrative. It was not important.