Lesson 9: Mark- Chapter 8
First read Mark 8 all the way through.
The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 8
Things you don’t see everyday:
-Jesus feeds 4,000.
-Jesus heals a blind man.
-Peter is inspired by the Holy Spirit to proclaim that Jesus is the ‘anointed one’, Messiah, or Christ (Greek).
-Jesus predicts his own suffering, death, & resurrection.
-Peter is now influenced by the wrong ‘spirit’, and rejects what Jesus just predicted.
-Jesus references his own future coming in power & glory.
Notes and Commentary:
I. Jesus Feeds 4,000 -Verses 1-9
Jesus has compassion on the large crowd following him. The people have been with him for 3 days without food and many have come from considerable distances. He is concerned that many would suffer along the way if they were sent home hungry.
Verse 4: Again, the disciples seem to be clueless in spite of the miraculous feeding of 5,000+ recorded in Chapter 6.
Verses 5-9: Jesus takes charge but has the disciple gather what they do have which in this case was only 7 loaves of bread and a few fish to feed 4,000. After giving thanks Jesus breaks up what they do have and gives it to his disciples to pass it out. In the process a miracle takes place and not only is there enough food to feed and satisfy around 4,000 people but 7 baskets of pieces of food were left over.
II. The Pharisees Ask for A Sign –Verses 10-13
Jesus & his disciples had just recently left the scene of the feeding of 4,000, and now they come across a group of Pharisees sent to ‘test’ Jesus. They are across the lake in the region of Dalmanutha (Magadan). By this time, Jesus was known to have healed hundreds of people and cast out demons along with the miraculous feeding of thousands and yet they ask for some kind of sign?
The pretense given by the Pharisees is that they only needed ‘a sign’ in order to support Jesus and his ministry. But Jesus knew their hearts and that it was nothing but a sham so snubbed them and got back in the boat and took off with his disciples.
The environment of doubt and offence among those religious leaders was similar to what Jesus had faced in Nazareth. Even worse, some may have had ulterior motives to oppose him regardless. So no ‘sign’ or major miracle or even any kind of healing happened in their company.
No ‘sign’ or miracle can ever really satisfy those who have no faith and are fully vested in unbelief or opposition. If Jesus had done a miracle in front of them they probably would have claimed that he did it through the power of the evil one.
Many are like that today, so convinced that miracles and healings don’t happen that they can’t even accept them when they do. Then among some Christians, if a healing does happen they are concerned that it might be a deception by the enemy.
Meanwhile, among those who do believe and accept; lives are changed, people come to Christ, God is praised and His Kingdom is advanced.
III. The Disciples & ‘The Yeast of The Pharisees’ –Verses 14-21
Verse 15: Jesus tells his disciples to “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” ‘Leaven’ (yeast) was traditionally a symbol of sin. During religious rituals & the Passover in particular, only ‘unleavened’ bread was allowed. Jesus is warning his people to beware of the influence of the Pharisees, their major sin here was unbelief, & theological blindness. They not only failed to see the current move of God in the ministry of Jesus but totally rejected it and in the process ending up rejecting their Messiah which God had sent to their nation and the whole world.
Verses 14, 16-21: The disciples think he is criticizing them for forgetting to bring enough bread for the trip when he mentions yeast and miss what Jesus is really talking about. He reminds them of the miracles they recently participated in feeding first 5,000 and then 4,000 with food left over. Read between the lines and you can hear Jesus saying ‘oy vey’ in exasperation.
His own disciples don’t really get it, even though they have witnessed all the healings & miracles. They too, have a prescribed and predetermined understanding of what the Messiah is supposed to do. Jesus surprises them time and again.
They probably expected Jesus to co-operate with the religious leaders and demonstrate his power and authority in some way. They have seen him do all sorts of miracles and any little sign might have furthered the cause to have him accepted by the religious leaders of their nation. After all, wasn’t the Messiah supposed to take over the whole country in a miraculous way?
IV. Healing of A Blind Man –Verses 22-26
Verse 22: Jesus has healed the blind in the past by merely touching them. That is what he was asked to do here but the healing process is entirely different this time.
Verses 23-26: Jesus led the blind man completely outside of the village. A blind person’s comfort zone would have been in the familiar surroundings of the village and his home. Here, the man must depend totally on Jesus to guide him. Not only is the man now in an unfamiliar environment, but Jesus spits in his eyes first and then touches him with both of his hands. One wonders what the blind man was thinking at that point.
The blind man did begin to see after that but the healing was obviously not complete. He says that “people…look like trees walking around”. Perhaps at one time he did have eye sight but somehow lost it. Or maybe he had run into enough trees in his life that it was easy to imagine what one might look like. Nevertheless, the healing was only partial.
It is instructive, that Jesus asks for feedback, and then continues to pray for his complete healing once more. I have heard some well meaning Christians teach that one should only pray once for a person to be healed and then leave it in God’s hands. Fortunately for the blind man, Jesus continued until a full healing was accomplished.
V. Who Do People Say That I Am? –Verses 27-30
Jesus asks his disciples- “Who do people say I am?” They answer him- “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Is he John The Baptist, Elijah, or just one of the prophets? Then he asks them what they think. Peter gets it right–”You are the Christ”.
But Jesus is not yet ready for them to proclaim him as such, and he warns them to tell no one. Why? The timing was not right for Jesus to be revealed as the Messiah. Besides even his own disciples did not understand what was going to happen to Jesus who was the Messiah but had a destiny which was far different than they expected as we will see in the next section.
VI. Jesus Predicts His Own Death & Resurrection –Verses 31-33
Jesus tells his disciples that the time would come that he would be rejected by the leaders, suffer, be killed, and raise again after 3 days. Peter contradicts Jesus, after all, this was not the scenario that they had been raised upon. The Messiah was supposed to kick the Romans out and take over the nation. The disciples thought that they were going to rule with Jesus.
Earlier Peter got it right, but here he is so wrong that Jesus rebukes Peter as a representative of Satan. Again Peter and the disciples do not understand God’s plan and destiny for his Son Jesus. Peter and the boys are looking for David’s kingdom to be re-established once more by Messiah Jesus with them as his right hand men in positions of honor and power.
VII. Jesus: “Follow Me” –Verses 34-38
Jesus has hundreds of people, even thousands at times, following him and hanging on his every word.
Peter and the boy’s are looking for positions of power and authority within King Jesus the Messiah’s kingdom. In fact, they are constantly arguing among themselves who is the greater and who will sit on his right hand and left when he takes over the nation.
Jesus shocks them here by saying- “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus bursts their bubble here by indicating that they may have to give their very lives up for the cause.
Then he seems to put down the wealth and power that they are expecting to gain in the future by specifically questioning whether it would be worth it to gain the whole world and lose their own soul.
Here he identifies what it means to be a ‘real’ follower or disciple and it is instructive for us today. Those who want to really be a part of his work, are called upon to set aside their own priorities in life, and live according to his guidance, both in the scriptures and by his Holy Spirit.
Verse 38: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words…” – Jesus says here that anyone who was ashamed of him or his teaching would they themselves be shamed by Jesus when he fulfilled his destiny as Messiah and came in glory with the angels.
Jesus had recently snubbed a group of important religious leaders. Some of his followers might have been questioning how that occasion went and may have even been somewhat ashamed of the way Jesus treated those important Pharisees. They probably expected him to ‘wow’ those folks and gain their support. Jesus basically rejected them and took off instead since he knew the hearts and the real intentions of those self important leaders.
Even Peter had recently opposed the teaching of Jesus when he told his disciples about his coming death and resurrection. This was a warning even for his closest companions who did not understand or fully accept his teaching at times. Unfortunately one of the twelve is the greatest example of that category of shame- Judas. A man who was there when Jesus did all of his miracles and healings and even saw the dead raised and yet betrayed him. Obviously no sign was enough in his case.
That word is even for us today since he hasn’t come back in glory yet. We shouldn’t be ashamed to tell others about Jesus or his teachings. Many may call themselves Christians, but it is those who live by his teachings and have publically identified with him who will be honored to be with him when he comes in his glory with the angels.
-Read: Mark 9 for the next lesson.