10: Mark 3:7-19: Jesus Builds the FoK
3:7-12: Jesus’ Freedom March
Mark gives us another summary (1:32-34) of Jesus’ New Exodus campaign. The note that they went to the sea may have a deeper meaning. The sea in Jewish thought was a haunt of evil and demons. Mark may be suggesting that Jesus takes the offense and goes to the “home” of his opponents. There he healed and exorcised many sick and possessed people. A massive freedom march.
Again, Jesus forbids the subjugated demons to identify him. Is this because they know who he is and Jesus wants to keep his true identity a secret (for whatever reason)? Or because it requires faith and not supernatural testimony to know who Jesus really is? Or is identification by a demon a questionable source and would taint Jesus? Maybe it’s lying. Who knows? Perhaps Aragorn’s moment of self-revelation to the Hobbits in FoR resonates a bit with Jesus at this point:
"’For all I knew I had to persuade you to trust me without proofs, if I was to help you.... But I must admit,’ he added with a queer laugh, ‘that I hoped you would take to me for my own sake. A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship. But there, I believe my looks are against me’" (cited in Fleming Rutledge, The Battle for Middle-earth, Kindle Location:996-998).
Whatever the case, Jesus commands and the demons submit to his authority. Which might be just the point Mark wants to make.
3:13-19: Jesus Forms the Nucleus of His FoK
Mountains are often places of revelation, like the mount of transfiguration we’ll meet later. Here I suspect it is the same, but different. Here the revelation is not of Jesus but by Jesus. He reveals that these twelve men will form the nucleus of his people, the Fellowship of the King. They will take his word to their people (v.14) and bear his power to exorcize (v.15). These twelve symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. This new people of Jesus is the people of Israel in the time of fulfilment, Abraham’s people.
These twelve men, in all their variety and different social settings, jobs, political persuasions, temperaments, and so forth, are Jesus’ choices for his new people. From tax collector to zealot, they run the gamut. This conglomeration of differents signifies God’s intent to bring the whole world together around this man Jesus. Even those who betray him (v.19)!
Tolkien narrates the gathering and commissioning of the FoR in a way that shares some similarities with Mark’s story. Hobbits, elves, dwarves, humans, and a wizard, differents all. Including one who betrays the cause (Boromir). And on their mission rests the fate of the world.
Here is how Tolkien presents the mandate of the FoR.
"’You do not stand alone. You will learn that your trouble is but part of the trouble of all the western world. The Ring! What shall we do with the Ring, the least of Rings, the trifle that Sauron fancies? . . . "’That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.’"
Mark does not tell of a mandate issued by Jesus to the Twelve on this occasion. But the setting (a mountain) and the symbolism (the New Israel) move in the same direction as Tolkien’s story. It is not difficult to imagine similar words from Jesus to the Twelve.
The net section details more of the dynamics at work in the formation and furtherance of the FoK.