The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus’ ministry and mission as a journey on “the way,” a journey to Jerusalem that ultimately results in his suffering and crucifixion. On the journey to the cross, Jesus embodies that which is least, vulnerable, and destitute in society, and he invites his followers to journey with him on the way. Robert Ewusie Moses argues that this invitation to discipleship is a call for believers to reassess their relationship with material possessions and their desire for wealth and power. Like Jesus, believers are to travel light on the way, for holding on strongly to possessions can be a hindrance for the journey. To embrace those in society who are least, vulnerable, and destitute is to embrace Jesus himself and the God who sent him. Traveling light on the way requires believers to place their trust in God, to depend on God to provide their needs. Moses shows that the journey is by its very nature a rejection of the status quo; it demands followers of Jesus to shun greed and the amassing of superfluous possessions that the world encourages. The book demonstrates that to be on this journey is to commit to the creation of communities of care, where those like Jesus—poor, vulnerable, and marginalized—are welcomed and cared for.
Robert Ewusie Moses is associate professor of religion at High Point University.
1.The Way of the Lord vs. The Way of the World
Part 1 of Mark (chaps. 1‒8)
2.Trust in God and Dependency on God
3.Good News for the Poor
Part 2 of Mark (chaps. 9‒16)
4.The Cost of Discipleship and the Status Quo
5.Warnings Against Greed and Care for the Marginalized
Appendix: Christ’s Poverty and His Crucifixion in the Early Church: Paul, Poverty, and the Powers
In this careful analysis of Mark's Gospel, Robert Moses shows that Jesus, the Son of God, becomes one of the poor, lowly offering himself to others and suffering the death of a slave. Jesus calls his followers to take on similar postures of sacrificial self-giving and humility as they care for one another in the community of disciples. Moses' volume provides a welcome overview of Mark's Gospel in light of Jesus' identification with the poor.
In this original, compelling, and highly accessible study, Robert Moses brings our attention to Mark’s fundamental identification of Jesus with the poor and marginalized and to the ways this theme, once recognized in its fullness, opens to fresh readings of key episodes in the Gospel. Through careful narrative analysis, superbly attentive both to historical context and to the history of reception, Moses illumines a pervasive sub-structure in the narrative, i.e., Jesus’ radicalization of the biblical injunction to care for the poor. Accustomed readings of key episodes from parable to miracle, to healing narrative, and finally to the cleansing of the Temple and the way it is framed by the cursing of the fig tree—all now are seen to proclaim and enact the Scriptural mandate of care for the poor, the outsider, and the marginalized. Moses offers a nuanced, coherent, and prophetic new reading of Mark for our times.
Robert Moses has written an analysis of Jesus in Mark that is nothing less than compelling. He brings together the deft accuracy and learning of a gifted scholar, in a clear, accessible analysis, that nevertheless presses through the boundary that so much scholarship fails to breach. The Jesus he uncovers in Mark is a Jesus who challenges our widespread culture of avarice—who summons us to a life of trust and dependency in a way that reveals the true nature of our discipleship. One would wish that this work was less clear and well-argued. But there is no escape from Moses's penetrating exposition. A deeply impressive reading of Mark and a deeply challenging call to confront our own materialism. Moses's book is quite superb.