The Gospel text for this Sunday, Mark 6:1-13, contains a good reminder of how the differences between the gospel accounts can come together for a fascinating, even better account of our amazing Savior.
A most interesting verse to support this is the second half of Mark 6:6. Literally, it says, “And he went around the villages in a circuit/circle, teaching.” The closest verse within the other accounts is the first part of Matthew 9:35; there it says, “And Jesus went around all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues….”
The most obvious difference is that Mark has Jesus going around in a circle or a circuit. The first thing to note is that Jesus is not going around in circles, as if he is not accomplishing anything. The second thing to note is that this is characteristic of a lion, that of the symbol most frequently connected to this gospel account.
A lion is a territorial animal. A lion has a certain amount of territory marked out, over which he ‘rules’.
You might see a lion going around in circles in a cage in a zoo. He is not looking for a way out (although he certainly would appreciate one). He is not confused. He is not getting his exercise (although that is certainly helpful within such a confined space). A lion is a territorial animal, and he is showing his authority over that area.
Jesus is going around the villages in a circuit, acting like a lion, the ‘king of the beasts’. But he could have acted like a much more powerful lion.
First of all, he could have been going around in a circuit to the capitals of all the main empires at that time. He could have regularly visited Beijing, Rome, and all other capitals. But why stop there?
In the creation account, it says that the ‘lesser light and the stars rule at night (Genesis 1:16)’, and at certain places on the globe, certain constellations are directly overhead. Interestingly enough, these constellations often match the things which have been inscribed on the thrones of many kings. For example, as there is a lion on some thrones, there is Leo; and as there is an ox on some thrones, there is Taurus, the bull. Jesus’ throne could be in the stars!
Jesus also could have made a huge circuit to the ‘four corners of the world’ to show his authority as king. But he does not go to the corners. He does not go to the capitals. He does not even go to the cities. He goes to the villages. He comes to people on the lowest level, and therefore he comes to people on all levels, and therefore he comes to our level.
He comes like a lion, but he comes showing compassion to his own. He comes ready to be king over sin, death, and the devil, to overcome that all for us.