The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Mark 8

Mar 8:1

"The Lord saw the people around him being excited by his miracles, but failing to appreciate their lessons. The 'multitude was very great' as the people gathered around. The ever-merciful Lord responded to the needs of the people, but desired that they should seek him for the words of his Father, and therefore 'sighed deeply in his spirit' (v 12). So the record reveals: (1) Feeding the 4,000: vv 1-9. (2) Christ removes to the western side of the lake: v 10. (3) Pharisees and Sadducees seek a sign: vv 11,12. (4) Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees: vv 13-21. (5) The blind man of Bethsaida: vv 22-26. (6) To the quietude of Caesarea Philippi, and the great confession: vv 27-30. (7) The first key expounded: vv 31-33. (8) Application of the first key in a person's life: vv 34-37. (9) Introduction to the second key: v 38).

The Lord was about to enter the final phase of his ministry that would lead to his death. For this his disciples had to be prepared. Thus, taking them into the quietude of the area of Caesarea Philippi, he introduced this phase by extracting from them the confession that he was the Christ (v 29), then revealing that he must die shamefully (v 31), in order that he might enter into glory (Mar 9). But it was this very confession that would lay the basis for the betrayal by Judas, and the ultimate condemnation of the Lord by the Jews. This was the most singular moment in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, leading to the 'baptism' of crucifixion that would be the means of his own redemption" (GEM).

Jesus was truly a "shepherd", providing food for his flock (cp Joh 10).

Mar 8:2

THREE DAYS: So keen were they for the spiritual food which only Jesus could provide.

Mar 8:3

An exhortation to exhorting brothers: Don't send your audience away unfed.

Mar 8:4

The "remote place" of the wilderness was the very site of God's previous miracle of feeding Israel.

Mar 8:6

What Jesus gave to his disciples, they must also share with others!

Mar 8:8

"I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food" (Psa 132:15).

SEVEN BASKETFULS: "Spuris": very large baskets, the sort in which Paul escaped from Damascus (Act 9:25; 2Co 11:32,33).

BROKEN PIECES: Which the Canaanite woman, like a "dog" under the Jewish "table", was only too willing to eat (Mat 15:27; Mar 7:28).

Mar 8:10

Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50;4; Psa 119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38; 6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.

REGION OF DALMANUTHA: Called "the vicinity of Magadan" in Mat 15:39. This visit is not mentioned in either of the other gospel records.

Mar 8:11

THE PHARISEES...: The Sadducees were there as well (Mat 16:1).

A SIGN FROM HEAVEN: There were signs from heaven, but none so explicit as to compel belief from the willfully disobedient. The ones who received "signs" were those with some degree of faith already, ie those who followed Christ for 3 days. As for the others (ie the Pharisees), no sign but Jonah (the resurrection). Or again, Christ WAS the "sign from heaven", the bread from heaven (Joh 6:35...), who multiplied the loaves and warned against the false leaven of the Pharisees.

Mar 8:12

NO SIGN: That is, no other sign except Christ himself, since they had rejected him. Or again, no sign except the sign of Jonah (Mat 16:4): Gospel preached to Gentiles, after resurrection of Jesus.

NO SIGN WILL BE GIVEN TO IT: The same Shekinah glory they were now demanding had been nothing but darkness to the Egyptians. And these men were "Egyptians"!

Mar 8:13

THEN HE LEFT THEM: Christ never performed miracles just to satisfy men's curiosity.

Mar 8:14

EXCEPT FOR ONE LOAF: Perhaps, subconsciously, they were not concerned any more with provisions. (One loaf was sufficient for Jesus to multiply.)

Mar 8:15

THE YEAST (LEAVEN) OF THE PHARISEES: Their leaven: doubt, continual seeking for more signs (v 12).

AND THAT OF HEROD: Herod also sought a sign (Luk 23:8). In Luk 12:1, "leaven" also = hypocrisy. They would not believe, even if they saw other signs.

Mar 8:16

"He thinks we want him to do another miracle." Maybe, to some degree, they did!

Mar 8:17

See VL, Disciples, slow comprehension.

"Do you really think literal bread is a problem?"

Mar 8:18

Open your eyes, open your ears, and stop thinking about things of the flesh. Sometimes we do not recognize the power of God right away; this was the disciples' problem.

Mar 8:19

BASKETFULS: "Kophinos" = small basket, in ct "spuris" (large basket) of Mat 15:37; Mar 8:8.

TWELVE: Twelve full baskets, ie, the 12 apostles, full of the "bread" of life. In ministering to others, they lost nothing themselves. In the atonement of Christ, there is ample provision for all.

PIECES: Which the Canaanite woman, like a "dog" under the Jewish "table", was only too willing to eat (Mat 15:27; Mar 7:28).

Mar 8:21

He told them: "Beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees" (Mat 16:12).

Mar 8:22

All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Mar 8:23

OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE: To avoid drawing attention to himself or the man -- so as to work on his faith?

SPIT: Humiliation, degradation (Isa 50:6; Mat 26:67; 27:30; Mar 14:65; 15:19). Also, Num 12:14; Deu 25:9; Job 30:10. Allusion to v 31 here? Christ's spittle, given with a purpose, is more precious than the blood of others.

PUT HIS HANDS ON HIM: Comfort, blessing.

Mar 8:24

A step-by-step "healing". Typical of a conversion: blindness, partial sight, and then full vision. Cp 1Co 12:9-13; Isa 42:16-20.

SAID: "Kept on saying", in excitement.

Mar 8:25

ONCE MORE...: "In cases of immature faith, Jesus sought to perfect it in the process of healing. Thus, when the blind man looked up to see, even dimly, for the first time, his faith would soar, and he would believe Jesus could complete the cure. Thus prepared, the second touch perfected his sight. The restored man was told to avoid the town and go straight to his home" (MP 209).

Mar 8:26

JESUS SENT HIM HOME: Doubtless, some in his own home were waiting to hear what he would have to tell them.

DON'T GO AND TELL ANYONE IN THE VILLAGE: Bethsaida was condemned for its unbelief (Mat 11:21). Silence was his settled policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh 7:37; 9:3; 11:4).

Mar 8:27

CAESAREA PHILIPPI: The furthest poss point from the temple ritual.

Mar 8:28

Follow the religious notions of the crowd, and you are almost certain to be wrong. (Notice that popular sentiment did not proclaim Jesus as Messiah any more; very evidently, this man did not WANT to be king!)

Mar 8:31

Cp Elijah, rejected by Ahab and Jezebel, but "raised" from despondency (1Ki 19:2-8).

Mar 8:32

PETER... BEGAN TO REBUKE HIM: The echo of Eden: "You will not surely die!"

Mar 8:33

How quick a transition Peter made from Mat 16:18 / Mar 8:29 to Mat 16:23 / Mar 8:33!

Jesus turned to: to the following multitude (Luk 14:25), the backsliding disciple (Luk 22:61), the impulsive disciple (Mat 16:23; Mar 8:33), and the trembling believer (Mar 5:30).

GET BEHIND ME: Peter was standing in front of Jesus, as though to stop him from going further. What Peter did not see was that, even with his good intentions, he was nevertheless attempting to destroy the mission of his Savior. Christ says, 'Don't hinder me; help me. Get behind me -- follow me... to Jerusalem!' And he does (cp 1Pe 2:21).

Mar 8:34

HE MUST DENY HIMSELF: "To deny one's self is more than self-denial; it is to say 'No' to the very self with its tacit assumption of a right to the life we possess; it is to repudiate the ego which claims a right to go its own way. Man has no right in life, and therefore no right to use life as he pleases for his own ends; and the meaning of the saying was to be demonstrated fully and finally when Jesus himself went voluntarily to surrender his life. He deliberately substituted his Father's will for his own, saying, 'Not what I will, but what Thou wilt'; and when his life was ended in the darkness of death his own will was extinguished in oblivion" (SMk 120).

TAKE UP HIS CROSS: Luke adds "daily" (Luk 9:23).

AND FOLLOW ME: "Of the three things enjoined, the last is a vital thing: to follow. The other two are utterly essential because through the essential you achieve that which is vital. The reason is this. You can approve, and not follow. You can applaud and not follow. You can understand and preach, without following. You can defend the Truth pugnaciously, without following. You can tire yourself out on busy works -- without following... The central thing is the denial of self. It is utterly radical. Denial of self is the inward thing. Taking up the cross daily is the external manifestation of the inward condition. To talk of it is not to realize it. To write about it is not to achieve it. The use of the word 'daily' emphasizes that it is not just a theory but something that is real and practical; facing squarely every new circumstance; confronting bravely every impediment; grasping joyfully every new opportunity. In practice it means giving unhindered access to the Master into every chamber and especially into every dark corner. To think of that possibility might make us feel ashamed but at the same time it may do us good" (GD).

Mar 8:36

FOR A MAN TO GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD: Square miles they conquered:
1. Genghis Khan (1162-1227), 4,860,000.
2. Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) 2,180,000.
3. Tamerlane (1336-1405), 2,145,000.
4. Cyrus the Great (600-529 BC), 2,090,000.
5. Attila (406-453), 1,450,000.
6. Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), 1,370,000, all of which he lost in 3 years.
7. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) 720,000.
8. Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030) 680,000.
9. Francisco Pizarro (1470-1541), 480,000.
10. Hernando Cortes (1485-1547), 315,000.

Mar 8:38

The Jews' judgments are for our example and admonition (1Co 10:11).

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