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Mark 8

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Feeding of the Four Thousand Feeding the Four Thousand Four Thousand Fed Jesus Feeds Four Thousand People Second Miracle of the Loaves
8:1-10 8:1-10 8:1-10 8:1-3 8:1-10
      8:4  
      8:5  
      8:6-10  
Demand for a Sign The Pharisees Seek a Sign Sayings on Signs The Pharisees Ask for a Miracle The Pharisees Ask for a Sign from Heaven
8:11-13 8:11-12 8:11-13 8:11-12 8:11-13
  Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod      
  8:13-21   8:13  
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod   Yeast of the Pharisees The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
8:14-21   8:14-21 8:14-15 8:14-21
      8:16  
      8:17-19  
      8:20  
      8:21  
The Healing of a Blind Man at Bethsaida A Blind Paralytic Healed at Bethsaida A Blind Man Healed Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida Cure of a Blind Man at Bethsaida
8:22-26 8:22-26 8:22-26 8:22-23 8:22-26
      8:24  
      8:25-26  
Peter's Declaration about Jesus Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ Peter's Confession Peter's Declaration about Jesus Peter's Confession of Faith
8:27-30 8:27-30 8:27-30 8:27 8:27-30
      8:28  
      8:29a  
      8:29b  
      8:30  
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection   Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death First Prophecy of the Passion
8:31-9:1 8:31-33 8:31-33 8:31-33 8:31-33
  Take Up the Cross and Follow Him On Discipleship   The Condition of Following Jesus
  8:34-9:1 8:34-9:1 8:34-9:1 8:34-9:1

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

SYNOPTIC GOSPEL PARALLELS

A. One wonders whether Jesus fed crowds often or, for some reason unknown to modern Western interpreters, this event is repeated (i.e., 6:34-44 and 8:1-10).

 

B. Mark 8:10-12 is paralleled in Matt. 15:39-16:4.

 

C. Mark 8:13-26 is paralleled in Matt. 16:5-12.

 

D. Mark 8:27-30 is paralleled in Matt. 16:13-20 and Luke 9:18-21.

 

E. Mark 8:31-37 is paralleled in Matt. 16:21-26 and Luke 9:22-25.

 

F. Mark 8:38-9:1 is paralleled in Matt. 16:27-28 and Luke 9:26-27.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:1-10
 1In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, 2"I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance." 4And His disciples answered Him, "Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?" 5And He was asking them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven." 6And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. 7They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. 8And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 10And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha.

8:1 "In those days" This account occurred in the mostly Gentile Decapolis area (cf. Mark 7:31).

"there was again a large crowd" This characterized Jesus' ministry during this period.

8:2 "I feel compassion for the people" This term "compassion" comes from the Greek term for the lower organs of the body. (Liver, kidneys, bowels). In the OT the Jews assigned the seat of the emotions to the lower viscera.

Jesus loves people (cf. Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Matt. 9:36; 14:41; 15:32; 18:27; 20:34; Luke 7:13; 10:33). These people had been rejected by rabbis all their lives. They swarmed to Jesus' care.

▣ "they have remained with Me now three days" This was an extended teaching time. The Jews counted days from evening twilight to evening twilight. Any part of a day was counted; therefore, this does not necessarily refer to three full, 24 hour days. They could not pull themselves away even to buy more food. They had now eaten all they had brought.

8:3 "if" This is a third class conditional sentence, which speaks of potential action. Jesus is not asserting that they are all on the point of physical collapse, but some are sick and weak and might faint.

▣ "they will faint on the way" This fainting would be caused by lack of food. See Jdgs. 8:15 and Lam. 2:19 in the Septuagint. They had used all the food they brought and had been fasting.

"some of them have come from a great distance" This shows how Jesus' fame as a miracle worker had spread. Desperate people go anywhere, try anything for help!

8:4 "'Where will anyone be able to find enough bread'" Even if they had the money there was still no place to purchase food. Jesus was testing the disciples' faith in His provision! They failed again (cf. Mark 6:34-44).

8:6 "sit down" This refers to a reclining position, which implied get ready for food.

8:6-8 "bread. . .fish" This was the normal daily diet of the people of Palestine. This is so similar to 6:34-44.

▣ "gave thanks" This prayer of blessing over food acknowledges God's daily care and provision (cf. Matt. 6:11). Jews always prayed before eating.

▣ "broke. . .served" This is an aorist followed by an imperfect tense. The miracle of multiplication occurred when Jesus broke the bread as in Mark 6:41.

8:8 "seven large baskets full of what was left over" This is a different word for basket from 6:43. These baskets were very large (cf. Acts 9:25). These remaining pieces were collected for later use. However, from Mark 8:14 we learn the disciples forgot and left them.

8:9 "About four thousand" Matthew15:83 adds "men," which means the crowd was larger. There were probably not a large number of women and children in this isolated area, but there were surely some.

8:10 "immediately" See note at Mark 1:10.

▣ "the district of Dalmanutha" There are several variants in this phrase. The problem is that no place by this name was known in the Palestine of Jesus' day. Therefore, scribes changed the place name to match Matthew's "Magadan" (NKJV "Magdala").

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:11-12
 11The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, "Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation." 13Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.

8:11 "Pharisees. . .began to argue with Him" This was a common occurrence. They could not deny His authority, power, or popularity, so they tried to trick Him into answering questions which would alienate part of His audience. See Special Topic on Pharisees at Mark 2:16.

▣ "a sign from heaven" In John's Gospel the word "sign" had a special meaning, but here it refers to the Pharisees' request for proof of His authority, possibly (1) a prediction (cf. Deut. 13:2-5; 18:18-22); (2) a heavenly sign (cf. Isa. 7:11; 38:7-8); or (3) an apocalyptic sign (militaristic victory over enemies).

▣ "to test Him" The word peirazō has the connotation of to try, test, or tempt "with a view of destruction." This may be a veiled reference to the unbelief of the wilderness wanderings (cf. Exod 17:7; Num. 14:11-12,22; Deut. 33:8). See Special Topic on Greek Terms for "Testing" at Mark 1:13.

8:12 "Sighing deeply" This is a compound and thereby intensified form of "groaned" (cf. Mark 7:34). Jesus had showed them His authority already by deed and word, but their spiritual blindness remained.

▣ "in His spirit" This refers to Jesus' personhood (cf. Mark 2:8). It has the same connotation in Mark 14:38 in respect to human beings. The term "spirit" is used in Mark for

1. the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10,12)

2. unclean spirits (i.e., demons, Mark 1:23,26,27; 3:11,30; 5:2,8,13; 6:7; 7:25; 9:17,20,25)

3. the human spirit (Mark 2:8; 8:12; 14:38)

 

"'this generation'" This term also has OT implications connected to the wilderness wandering period (cf. Num. 32:13; Deut. 1:35; 32:5,20).

▣ "Truly" This is literally "amen." See Special Topic "Amen" at Mark 3:28.

▣ "'I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation'" This is a Hebrew idiom of strong negation (not a Greek conditional sentence) involving an understood, yet unexpressed, oath. When compared to Matt. 16:4 Jesus obviously meant no further signs. Jesus had given them many signs (i.e., OT prophecies fulfilled in His acts and words), but they refused to accept them or Him because He challenged their traditions, cultural position, and popularity.

8:13 Jesus traveled extensively in northern Palestine because He wanted all to hear His message but also because of the press of the crowds.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:14-21
 14And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." 16They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? 18Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?" They said to Him, "Twelve." 20"When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?" And they said to Him, "Seven." 21And He was saying to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

8:14 This is obviously an eyewitness detail from Peter.

8:15 "He was giving orders to them" This is an imperfect middle indicative from a strong term "to order with authority" (cf. Mark 5:43; 7:36; 8:15; 9:9). This term is characteristic of Mark (i.e., often related to the "Messianic Secret").

NASB, NRSV"Watch out!"
NKJV"Take heed"
TEV"Take care"
NJB"Keep your eyes open"

This is literally "see" (i.e., horaō). It is a present active imperative, which implies continuing diligence to maintain proper vigilance.

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"Beware"
TEV"be on your guard against"
NJB"look out for"

This is also a present active imperative. Both of these sharp commands are from different Greek words meaning "to see" (i.e., horaō and blepō), implying that believers must be constantly on guard (cf. Mark 4:24; 12:38; 13:5,9,23,33) against self-righteous legalism and institutionalism.

"'of Herod'" Early scribes tended to standardize the sayings of Jesus. In Mark 3:6 and 12:13 Jesus says "Herodians"; therefore, the Greek manuscripts P45, G, and W, as well as some versions of the Vulgate, and Coptic translations, changed this genitive form. The overwhelming Greek manuscript attestation is genitive (cf. MSS א, A, B, C, D, and L). See Special Topic on the family of Herod at Mark 1:14.

▣ "leaven" This was usually a symbol of corruption, as it is in this text (cf. 1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). This may be a word play in Aramaic because the terms "leaven" and "word" are very similar. The disciples' problem was the same as the Pharisees, that is spiritual dullness or blindness. They must constantly be on guard against it. The Herods represented the opposite problem—the worldliness, the status quo at any cost!

8:16 "began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread" This is an imperfect tense. The disciples had not learned the lesson yet. Jesus will supply all needs! Jesus is talking about corrupting influences and they think He's talking about food!

The NKJV adds the word "saying" into this abbreviated sentence (as do many later minuscule Greek manuscripts) following Matt. 16:7. The NASB accomplished the same purpose by the addition of italicized words (i.e., "began" and "the fact").

8:17 "Jesus, aware of this" It is not always obvious as to how Jesus knew things. Sometimes it is supernatural knowledge and other times knowing peoples' behavior and characteristics.

"'Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread'" This is the first in a series of six or seven questions in which Jesus expresses His disappointment that His own disciples do not yet understand! This entire context of Mark reveals how hard it was for "friend and foe" to comprehend Jesus' radically new message. His disciples, His family, His hometown, the crowds, and the religious leaders all did not have spiritual eyes or ears!

"'Do you not yet see or understand'" This is a recurrent theme (cf. Mark 8:21; 6:52). Jesus' family, hometown, own disciples, townspeople, and religious leaders do not understand Him. Possibly this is a way to show the spiritual climate before the fullness of the Spirit comes at Pentecost (or the Messianic Secret is revealed in the crucified, risen Lord).

"'Do you have a hardened heart'" This is a perfect passive participle implying a settled spiritual condition brought about by an outside agent (cf. Mark 4:13,40; 6:52; 7:18; 8:17,21,33; 9:10,32). This is exactly what will happen to Judas Iscariot. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at Mark 2:6.

8:18 This is an OT quote from Ezekiel 12:2 (cf. Jer. 5:21), which theologically parallels Isa. 6:9-10 (cf. Mark 4:12). The OT prophets spoke the word of God, but were misunderstood because of the spiritual condition of their hearers. These OT quotes are in a grammatical form which expects a "yes" answer.

"'And do you not remember'" Jesus is chiding them for their lack of spiritual understanding related to the miraculous feedings (cf. Mark 8:17-21). This phrase also has an OT orientation (cf. Deut. 4:9-10; 8:11,19). God's people must retain and act on God's truths.

8:19 "baskets" This is a different term from 8:8. This is the term used in Mark 6:43 (i.e., smaller baskets). He is reminding them of the previous miraculous feeding. They had not made the connection (cf. Mark 8:32-33; 9:32-34; 10:35-37).

8:20 Verse 19 refers to the feeding in Mark 6, but verse 20 refers to the current feeding in Mark 8.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:22-26
 22And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. 23Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" 24And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around." 25Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26And He sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."

8:22 "a blind man" One of Isaiah's prophecies about the Messiah was that He would bring sight to the blind (cf. Isa. 29:18-35:5; 42:7,16,18,19).

Physical blindness is an OT metaphor for spiritual blindness (cf. Isa. 56:10; 59:10). This same play on physical and spiritual blindness is graphically seen in John 9. This is obviously related to the disciples' blindness in Mark 8:15,18.

8:23 "brought him out of the village" This was for the purpose of putting the man at ease and keeping the healing a secret (cf. Mark 7:33; 8:26).

"spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him" These were both cultural ways of healing, one physical and one spiritual. It was meant to build the man's faith. See SPECIAL TOPIC: LAYING ON OF HANDS at Mark 7:32.

8:24 "'I see men, for I see them like trees'" Jesus was not limited in power, but was working with this man's faith. This is the only partial healing or healing in stages that is recorded in the Gospels.

8:25 This verse starts with Jesus laying hands on the man's eyes. Then the action switches to the man (cf. NJB). He must focus and look intently (cf. Matt. 7:5). When he cooperates, his sight immediately is restored.

8:26 This refers to Mark's repeated references to Jesus emphatically telling people He healed not to broadcast their healing. The Textus Receptus (i.e., KJV or NKJV) even adds a phrase making this more specific. Jesus did not want to be known as a healer. He used healing to show the mercy of God, build the disciples' faith, and confirm His teaching ministry.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:27-30
 27Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?" 28They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets." 29And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." 30And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

8:27-30 This event is a watershed event in the Gospel of Mark. The miracle stories that affirm the power, authority, and deity of Jesus cease. From this point on the emphasis is the crucifixion. Mark's Gospel changes from a focus on who He is to His great redemptive act (i.e., what He did).

8:27 "to the villages" Matthew 16:13 has "into the district of." Jesus wanted to do two things (1) get away from the crowds and (2) preach in all the villages. In this case reason #1 is predominate.

▣ "Caesarea Philippi" This city is about 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee in a predominately Gentile area. It was controlled by Herod Philip, not Herod Antipas.

▣ "on the way He questioned" As they were walking Jesus began (imperfect tense) conversing with them.

▣ "'Who do people say that I am'" Matthew 16:13 has "Son of Man," which was Jesus' self-chosen title. This is the central religious question.

8:28 "John the Baptist" This was Herod Antipas' opinion, as well as some of the people's opinion (cf. Mark 6:14,16; Luke 9:19).

▣ "Elijah" This would imply that Jesus was the forerunner of the Messiah (cf. Mal. 4:5).

▣ "one of the prophets" Matthew 16:14 has "Jeremiah." All of these options involved a resuscitation and were honorific titles, but not exclusively Messianic.

8:29 "'who do you say that I am'" This is plural and was addressed to all the disciples. "You" is emphatic in Greek because the pronoun is fronted (i.e., put first in the sentence).

▣ "'You are the Christ'" Peter, the extrovert of the group, answers first. This is a transliteration of the Hebrew "Messiah" (BDB 603), which means "the Anointed One." Jesus was reluctant to publicly accept this title because of the Jews' false political, militaristic, and nationalistic interpretations. In this private setting He accepts, even seeks this title. The parallel of Matt. 16:16 has the full title, "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Mark (Peter's recorder) omits Jesus' praise of Peter (cf. Matt. 16:17,19).

8:30 "He warned them to tell no one about Him" This is another example of the Messianic Secret so common in Mark (cf. Mark 1:33-34,43; 3:12; 4:11; 5:43; 7:24,36; 8:26,30). They knew the title but not the mission!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:31-33
 31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

8:31 "He began to teach them" The imperfect tense can mean (1) the beginning of an act or (2) the continuing of an act in past time. Here #1 is implied by the context, but there is another imperfect in Mark 8:32 which implies #2. This is Jesus' first prediction of His suffering and death, but there are others (cf. Mark 9:12,31; 10:33-34).

▣ "the Son of Man must" This shows that Jesus clearly understood His mission and its cost (cf. Mark 10:45). This was exactly the type of predictive sign the Pharisees were seeking in Mark 8:12 to confirm a true prophet (cf. Deut. 13:2-5; 18:18-22).

▣ "suffer many things" This was the aspect of the Messiah's ministry that the Jews missed (cf. Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isa. 52:13-53:12; Zech. 9-14). In Jewish thought the Messiah was seen as a descendant of David, a militaristic champion of Israel. But He would also be a priest, as in Psalm 110 and Zechariah 3-4. This dual nature is reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls community's expectation of two Messiahs, one royal (from Judah) and one priestly (from Levi). This dynamic leadership role expectation seemed totally separate from a suffering, dying Messiah.

Jesus tried several times to inform the disciples about His prophesied suffering (cf. Mark 8:31; 9:12,30-31; 10:33-34), but they could not understand (cf. Mark 8:32-33; 9:32-34; 10:35-37).

▣ "be rejected" This means "disapproved" because Jesus did not meet the Jewish leadership's preconceived Messianic understandings. He did not fit their expectations.

▣ "by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes" This was a way of referring to the Sanhedrin, a council of seventy leaders from Jerusalem analogous to a supreme court. See Special Topic at Mark 12:13.

▣ "be killed. . .rise again" This is the essence of the gospel message: a substitutionary sacrifice, and a glorious divine confirmation of its acceptance.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE RESURRECTION

▣ "after three days rise again" This phrase could refer to Hos. 6:1-2. It is interpreted in a similar way in the Aramaic Targum on this verse. However, Jesus seems to be making an allusion to Jonah 1:17 (cf. Matt. 12:39; 16:4). This type of predictive sign was exactly what the Pharisees were asking for in Mark 8:12 (cf. Matt. 16:4). This type of prediction was the basis of defining a true prophet according to Deut. 13:2-5; 18:18-22. Jesus gave them sign after sign, but they could not, would not see!

8:32

NASB"He was stating this matter plainly"
NKJV"He spoke this word openly"
NRSV, NJB"He said all this quite openly"
TEV"He made this very clear to them"

This is another imperfect tense as in Mark 8:31. There it meant "began," but here it might refer to repeated action (i.e., Jesus told them about His suffering and death several times). He spoke to them plainly—no parables, no symbols, no metaphors (cf. John 10:24; 11:14; 16:25,29; 18:20).

▣ "Peter took Him aside" This was done in sincerity, but not with understanding. Peter is acting as Satan's surrogate as to how to use His Messianic office to reach and save people (cf. Mark 1:12-13; Matt. 4:1-11).

▣ "and began to rebuke Him" This is a strong Greek word (cf. LXX of Gen. 37:10; Luke 4:41; 2 Tim. 4:2). It is used of Jesus in Mark 1:25; 3:12; 4:39; and 9:25. In this context Peter "scolded" or "censured" Jesus for His remarks. Surely his motive was to protect Jesus, not condemn Him. Peter did not understand the vicarious and prophetic nature of Jesus' suffering.

Jesus rebukes Peter in Mark 8:33 for his lack of spiritual insight and slowness to understand.

8:33 "seeing His disciples" Jesus spoke this word to Peter, but in a sense He was addressing all the disciples.

▣ "Get behind Me, Satan" This is a present active imperative. Jesus commands Peter to remove himself from Jesus' sight. This has OT connotations of rejection (i.e., "cast behind the back," cf. 1 Kgs. 14:9; Ezek. 23:35). Without realizing it, Peter was tempting Jesus in the very same way that Satan did in the wilderness (cf. Mark 1:12-13; Matt. 4:1-11). Satan tried to get Jesus to win human allegiance in any way but Calvary (i.e., feed them, show them miracles, compromise His message). Peter did not realize that Jesus' suffering and death was the plan of God (cf. Mark 10:45; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29; 2 Cor. 5:21). See SPECIAL TOPIC: SATAN at Mark 1:13.

Often the most painful and subtle temptations come from friends and family! The Kingdom of God, not personal preferences, personal privileges, or personal goals, is the highest priority (cf. Mark 8:34-38).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 8:34-9:1
 34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. 9:1And Jesus was saying to them, 'Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."

8:34 "summoned the crowd with His disciples" Mark is the only Gospel that records the presence of the crowd at Caesarea Philippi. Usually this event is seen as a private teaching time, but obviously others were present. This crowd would have included may non-Jews and probably no Pharisees or religious leaders because it was out of the traditional promised land in a Gentile area. It is to this crowd that Jesus reveals the true cost of discipleship, the radical, total surrender needed to follow Him. He bids them follow, but clearly states the cost!

▣ "if" This is a first class conditional sentence, which is assumed true from the author's perspective or for his literary purpose.

"anyone wishes to come after Me" Notice the universal invitation to be Jesus' disciples. But there is a cost (i.e., salvation is free, but discipleship is necessary and very expensive personally). It is interesting that Jesus' very words to Peter in Mark 8:33 (hupage opisō mou) are now used again (opisō mou), but in the sense of "come after me" (i.e., discipleship). There is an inappropriate followship (Peter as Satan's surrogate) and an appropriate followship (i.e., selfless service). The very thing Peter rebukes Jesus for thinking is now clearly stated as the goal for all, "take up your cross"!

▣ "he must deny himself" This is an aorist middle imperative of a term which implies "to deny," "to disown," "to renounce," or "to disregard" (cf. Matt. 16:24; 20:35,75; Mark 8:34; 14:30,32,72; Luke 9:23; 12:9; 23:34,61; John 13:38).

The fall (cf. Genesis 3) has made mankind's independence and self-centeredness the goal of life, but now believers must return to selfless dependence on God. Salvation is the restoration of the image of God in humanity, damaged in the fall. This allows intimate fellowship with the Father, which is the goal of creation.

▣ "take up his cross" This is an aorist active imperative. This phrase "take up your cross" referred to a condemned criminal having to carry his own crossbar to the place of crucifixion. This was a cultural metaphor for a painful, shameful death. In this context it refers to "death to our old sin nature." The gospel is a radical call for once-and-for-all followship, discipleship (cf. Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Luke 9:23; 14:27; 17:33; John 12:25). As Jesus laid down His life for others, so we must follow His example (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20; 1 John 3:16). This clearly demonstrates that the results of the fall have been removed.

▣ "and follow Me" This is present active imperative. This is the language of rabbinical discipleship. Christianity is a decisive choice followed by continual discipleship (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Eph. 2:8-10).

8:35-37 "save his life. . .lose his life" This is a play on the Greek word for "self," psuchē. In this context there is a contrast between spiritual living (Kingdom focused) and selfish living (earthly, self-centeredness). The Williams translation of the NT has "higher life. . .lower life." If we live for Christ we shall live eternally; if we live for self we are spiritually dead (cf. Gen. 3; Isa. 59:2; Rom. 5:18-19; 7:10-11; 8:1-8; Eph. 2:1,5; Col. 2:13; James 1:15) and one day will be eternally dead (cf. Rev. 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8). This truth is similar to the parable of "the rich fool" (cf. Luke 12:16-20).

8:35 "gospel's" This is a compound of eu (good) and angelos (message). It originally meant proclaim good tidings, but it came to be used for the message about Jesus as the Messiah bringing salvation (and all its connected doctrines). It stands for the truths of Christianity and the proclaiming of those truths. Mark's Gospel may have been the first to use it in this sense (cf. Mark 1:1,14-15; 8:35; 10:29; 14:9).

8:36 "'to gain the whole world'" This also was one of Satan's temptations to Jesus (cf. Matt. 4:8-9).

▣ "'and forfeit his soul'" This is an aorist passive infinitive of a term used to describe the loss of something which one previously possessed (cf. Matt. 16:26; Acts 27:10).

8:37 This is a powerful question. Where is the priority, present life or eternal life? Selfish living robs one of the joy of life and the gift of life! This life is both a gift and a stewardship.

8:38 "'whoever is ashamed of Me and My words'" This refers to the time when each person is confronted with the gospel. This same truth is expressed in a different way in Matt. 10:32-33 and Luke 12:8-9. What people decide today about the gospel determines their future. Jesus is the gospel!

This phrase is a third class conditional sentence, which introduces a contingency (cf. TEV and NJB).

"'in this adulterous and sinful generation'" The Jews in the interbiblical period developed a theology of two ages. The current age was dominated by sin, self, and unrighteousness. See Special Topic: The Two Jewish Ages at Mark 13:8. However, God was going to send the Messiah and establish a new age of righteousness. Jesus is stating that He Himself was inaugurating this new day and that this new righteousness depends (i.e., is contingent upon, cf. John 1:12; 3:16) on one's personal faith and trust in Him, not one's human performance (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Matt. 5:20).

▣ "'the Son of Man'" This is Jesus' self-designation; it had no nationalistic, militaristic, or exclusivistic implications in first century Judaism. The term comes from its typical usage in Ezek. 2:1 and Ps. 8:4 ,where it meant "human being" and Dan. 7:13, where it implies Messiah and Deity (i.e., riding on the clouds of heaven, approaching God and receiving the eternal kingdom). The term combines the twin aspects of Jesus' person, fully God and fully man (cf. 1 John 4:1-3).

▣ "when He comes" The OT clearly reveals one coming of the Messiah. However, Jesus' earthly life showed that Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; and Zechariah 9-14 also refer to a suffering of the Messiah. The second glorious coming of the Messiah as Lord and Judge of the cosmos will be exactly the way the Jews were expecting Him to come the first time. Their closed-minded, theological dogmatism caused them to reject Jesus.

The Second Coming is a major and oft repeated NT truth (cf. Matt. 10:23; 16:27-28; 24:3,27,30,37; 26:64; Mark 8:38-39; 13:26; Luke 21:27; John 21:22; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 1:7; 15:23; Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:7,10; 2:1,8; James 5:;7-8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John 2:28; Rev. 1:7).

▣ "'in the glory of His Father with the holy angels'" This is an OT prediction from Dan. 7:10 (cf. Matt. 16:27; Mark 13:20; Luke 9:26; 2 Thess. 1:7). This refers to the Second Coming. This was another way of asserting the deity of Jesus. Several times in Matthew the angels are the eschatological gatherers and dividers of humanity (cf. Mark 13:39-41,49; 24:31).

"glory" In the OT the most common Hebrew word for "glory" (kabod) was originally a commercial term (which referred to a pair of scales) meaning "to be heavy." That which was heavy was valuable or had intrinsic worth. Often the concept of brightness was added to the word to express God's majesty (cf. Exod. 15:16; 24:17; Isa. 60:1-2). He alone is worthy and honorable. He is too brilliant for fallen mankind to behold (cf. Exod. 33:17-23; Isa. 6:5). God can only be truly known through Christ (cf. Jer. 1:14; Matt. 17:2; John 14:8-9; Heb. 1:3; James 2:1).

The term "glory" is somewhat ambiguous.

1. it may be parallel to "the righteousness of God"

2. it may refer to the "holiness" or "perfection" of God

3. it could refer to the image of God in which mankind was created (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6), but which was later marred through rebellion (cf. Gen. 3:1-22)

It is first used of YHWH's presence with His people in the cloud of glory during the wilderness wandering period (cf. Exod. 16:7,10; Lev. 9:23; Num. 14:10).

9:1 There have been many theories to explain Jesus' statement. It may have referred to

1. Jesus' ascension

2. the Kingdom already present in Jesus

3. the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost

4. the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70

5. the expectation of Jesus' early return

6. the rapid spread of Christianity

7. the transfiguration.

These theories focus on different phrases in the text: (1) "some of the people standing here"; (2) "the Kingdom of God"; or (3) "come in its power." The best guess is #7 because of the immediate context of Mark. 9:2-13 and 2 Pet. 1:16-18. Also, no other theory can explain all three aspects of the text. But realize if it does, then it only referred to Peter, James, and John.

"Truly" This is literally "amen." See Special Topic at Mark 3:28.

"will not taste death" This is a strong double negative used as a metaphorical phrase (i.e., experience cessation of life).

"the kingdom of God" See note at a 1:15.

"it has come with power" This is a perfect active participle, which implies the full and complete coming of the kingdom. This is in contrast to the fact that the kingdom, in some real sense, was inaugurated with Jesus' coming (i.e., incarnation), but a future event is to be expected (i.e., Second Coming).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Did Jesus feed two large crowds or is there one feeding from two perspectives?

2. What kind of "sign" did the Pharisees want?

3.  Why did Jesus chide the disciples?

4. Why did Jesus only partially cure the blind man the first time?

5. Why is Matthew's account so much fuller than Mark's account of Peter's confession?

6. What exactly did Peter's confession imply about Jesus?

7. Why were the disciples so shocked at Jesus' teaching about His death at Jerusalem?

8. Explain in your own words what verses 34-38 mean.

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods