Summary: The story of Philip’s encounter with an unnamed court official, an Ethiopian Eunuch, raises numerous questions about ancient culture, Greco-Roman attitudes toward people from far away, sex and gender, and the differences in people’s social locations. It’s important that preachers and other interpreters tend to those questions, so they can both appreciate and be critical of the ways in which the book of Acts imagines the consequences that the good news has for all people. This story and the ambiguity surrounding the characterization of the court official can serve as a reminder of the ways that Christian communities struggle to identify and include people who are strangers or “outsiders.” It’s notable to remember, then, that at the close of the story the Ethiopian is not merely a convert, he is also a theologian who demonstrates his understanding that the good news is for him, as he is.
I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preagcher.
Stick Around (Mark 3:20-35)
Summary: Once Jesus’ ministry is rolling in the Gospel according to Mark, conflict emerges and dividing lines are drawn. Mark has a way with surprises; Jesus’ own family and religious authorities misunderstand who he is and what he is up to. But crowds of unnamed people remain with him, often doing little more than showing up and following. Jesus appears to welcome their presence, as seen in this scene when he describes a crowd as his true kin and commends them for doing “the will of God.” It appears Jesus is not calling for heroism or perfection. Rather, he seeks recognition. Down the road in Mark he will remind us that discipleship calls for our whole selves. But at this point in the story, being present and sticking around is what he’s looking for. This is good news for all of us, reminding us that faith is not so much about subscribing to doctrine and more about attaching oneself to Jesus and his efforts to bring the reign of God to fruition.
I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 3:20-35. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.
Bible commentary: general audience
discipleship family following gospel of mark inclusion insiders jesus kingdom of god scribes will of God