Today’s Word: ‘Satire’ as in… Mark’s Gospel is political satire.
The first century Jesus followers knew that, saw that. Caesar has a crown placed on his head – gold, jewels. Jesus has a crown placed on his head – thorns. Caesar is triumphantly paraded through the streets of the ancient cities for all to see. Jesus is shamefully paraded through the streets as an enemy of the state, carrying an execution stake. Mark’s gospel is a counter narrative which is why Jesus—the “Son of God” is killed.
So when asked, “Do you believe Jesus was the literal ‘Son of God?’” what’s fascinating is that the phrase was originally a figurative term; a Roman, military, propaganda term for someone leading with divine power.
So when asked, “Do you take it literally?” you mean take the figurative phrase literally? Take a metaphor literally? To do that misses the point, robbing the phrase of its power.
The reason the phrase “son of God” is so powerful is because first century Jesus followers were essentially calling out the violence and oppression of the empire.
Instead of crushing your enemy, Jesus says, “Love your enemy.” Instead of marginalizing the poor, Jesus moves towards the poor.
Instead of coercive military violence, it’s a story of radical, sacrificial love. Better to be executed as an enemy of the state with your heart full of love and forgiving your enemies than executing people and calling it peace.
Jesus and his message were deeply political. We can’t possibly read these stories any other way. Again, Mark’s opening line, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the son of God…” could not have been a more revolutionary, subversive, political, satirical opening to the story they are telling.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a counter narrative in the world. It always has been, always will be. When it ceases to be a counter narrative, then we’ve really got problems. If we lose the counter narrative of the gospel, we run the risk of having a lot of smoke, but no fire. We’re just making noise.