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The Haven Sermon Review

During our sermon discussion this morning at Russo’s Haven cafe, we went through some of the commentaries I used to build the sermon and support the text. The definition of a commentary is a set of explanatory or critical notes on a text.

Going through the sermon on Mark 1:29-39, we read some of the supporting biblical passages further along in Mark, such as Mark 10:45 where

Jesus describes himself as a diakoneo. We read through the commentary by Matt Skinner, Professor of New Testament, at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Prof. Skinner undergirds his interpretation of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law as a disciple with Mark 15:40-41: “40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.” Peter’s mother-in-law was a woman from Galilee. The words “provided for” translate as the Greek word diakoneo. Peter’s mother-in-law likely followed Jesus right up to the time of his crucifixion and we know she provided for him while he was in Capernaum, by the Sea of Galilee. Prof. Skinner’s claim is: “If she’s among them [at Jesus’ crucifixion], then she’s more than a cook, waiter, and dishwasher. She’s also a follower. Referring to the definition of disciple may help us in this interpretation: a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

We discussed at length the sermon seeming to have a feminist perspective. A more traditional interpretation of her serving “them” is being challenged through this translation of diakoneo. I explained Jesus message has the most impact for those who live outside of the status quo. If we are paying attention to recent news stories, we will understand that for centuries, women’s value has been as chattel or, for the service of assisting men fulfill their goals. This was the case in Jesus’ lifetime, as well. He came and sought to lift up lepers, those filled with demons, those who were ill, children, and women. The validity of this interpretation of the Markan text is found in the study of the word diakoneo. The corollary is that Mark 1:29-31 may legitimately be interpreted from the perspective that Peter’s mother-in-law is a woman who served Jesus from the beginning of his ministry, as did the male disciples, until the end.[1]

[1] All quotes are from Matt Skinner, The Working Preacher, “Gospel Reading, Commentary on Mark 29-39,” accessed February 5, 2018

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