Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

You are here

Monday, May 8, 2023

He … he … he … (Mark 3:7 – 5:6)

One of the more interesting passages in the Bible is the 73 verses between Mark 3:7 and 5:6 because the name “Jesus” never occurs. In 3:7 “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake” and in 5:6 the demon–possessed man “saw Jesus from a distance.” In fact, we don’t see “Jesus” as the subject of a verb in an independent clause until 5:21. This brings up a few interesting points.

First of all, it makes it clear that Mark intends his readers to read larger chunks of his gospel at once. For example, when we get to 4:35 we read, “On that day, when evening had come, he told them, ‘Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea’” (CSB). Who is “he”? If you were preaching just on the story of Jesus calming the sea, you would have to identify who the “he” is. But if you were covering a larger chunk of material, while still somewhat confusing in English, saying “he” would still make sense.

Secondly, this is why translations will often supply the antecedent of a pronoun, usually saying so in the footnote. The ESV footnotes “Jesus” in 5:2, “Greek him; also verse 9.” The NET adds “Jesus” in 3:13 without a footnote, but includes a footnote at 3:20, 31; 4:35, and 5:2. The NASB uses italics in 4:38, “And yet Jesus Himself was in the stern.” The NIV adds “Jesus” ten times without a footnote. The NRSV never adds “Jesus.

These facts are a reflection of the translations’ philosophies and illustrate the consistency with which they apply their translation philosophy to the text.

So if you were preaching from this passage, what would you do? I suspect that even if you were preaching on the entire passage, you would add in “Jesus” as a necessary clarification. It would be an interesting sermon.

“Who is Jesus?” He was able to collect followers because of his miracles, including twelve special ones. He was rejected by the religious leaders and even his family. He taught in confusing ways so that those who reject him could not understand, and yet he had power over the physical and demonic world. All this would naturally call for each person to make up their own mind. Do I choose to go with the religious leaders, or do I align myself with the person with ultimate power and accept his teachings.

Let me know if you ever preach Mark 3:7 – 5:10, let me know how it goes.