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Feeding the Four Thousand (8:1-10) Mark 8:1–10 (ESV) — 1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

  • Likely a mostly gentile crowd this time
  • This crowd has been with Jesus 3 days (!) rather than merely the whole day
  • Jesus once again calls on his disciples to act and trying to elicit faith, but the disciples once again show ignorance of Jesus’ power.

Pharisees Sign (8:11-13) Mark 8:11–13 (ESV) — 11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

  • What are the Pharisees looking for?
    • A sign from heaven demonstrating Jesus’ authority
  • Why won’t Jesus give it to them?
    • They have received a bunch of clear signs, but refuse to believe
    • They are putting God to the test like Satan in the wilderness

Leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod (8:14-21) Mark 8:14–21 (ESV) — 14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

  • Jesus speaks a mini-parable about the “leaven of the Pharisees and Herod” - what is his point?
    • Both the Pharisees and Herod had in common their unbelief in the face of Jesus’ work
    • Matthew refers to the teaching of the Pharisees, Luke refers to their hypocrisy
  • What did the disciples understand him to mean?
  • What’s so striking about the disciples concern about forgetting bread?
    • After witnessing Jesus feed 5000 people with 5 loaves, and 4000 people with 7 loaves, they’re upset about how to feed 12 people with 1 loaf when Jesus is in the boat with them.
    • Jesus calls on them to remember what he’s already shown them and rebukes them for their hardness of hearts.
    • Are there areas in your life where you find yourself doubting the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Lord Jesus? Where does the text hit home for you in this regard?

The Two-Stage Healing (8:22-26) Mark 8:22–26 (ESV) — 22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

  • This healing completes the fulfillment of the Isa. 35 passage we talked about last week with the healing of the deaf mute. “Isaiah 35:5–6 (ESV) — *5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. *”
  • This is the only place in the NT where Jesus heals and the effect is only partial until he takes another action. The position of this healing in the narrative gives every indication that it is a an acted parable points us to the gradual opening of the eyes of the disciples we see in the chapters ahead.
  • Like the disciples having their eyes gradually opened to the true nature of Christ’s Messiahship and what it means to be a disciple, so also we experience similar progressive growth in our understanding of who Christ is and how we should live.

Peter’s Confession (8:27-30) 27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

  • The scene of this confession is striking - this is Caesarea Philippi, which is the farthest north you could be and still be in Israel, and it was a pagan place as well with a lot of monuments to the emperor.
  • Jesus polls them about what people are saying about Jesus, then elicits the response of faith from Peter.
  • What he says the clearest human confession yet of Jesus’ messiahship.
  • If the book stopped here, with everything you seen so far and ended with Peter’s confession - what is the picture of Jesus you would have?
    • This confession is the hinge of the book, bridging all the demonstrations of power in the first half of the book with all the weakness demonstrated and discussed in the 2nd half of the book.
  • Why does he command them to say nothing? Because they still do not fully see.
  • Here’s what a 1st century Jew who believed in a coming Messiah would expect:

    23(21) Behold, O Lord, and raise up unto them their king, the son of David, At the time in the which Thou seest, O God, that he may reign over Israel Thy servant. 24(22) And gird him with strength, that he may shatter unrighteous rulers, 25 And that he may purge Jerusalem from nations that trample (her) down to destruction. (23) Wisely, righteously 26 he shall thrust out sinners from (the) inheritance, He shall destroy the pride of the sinner as a potter’s vessel. (24) With a rod of iron he shall break in pieces all their substance, 27 He shall destroy the godless nations with the word of his mouth; (25) At his rebuke nations shall flee before him, And he shall reprove sinners for the thoughts of their heart. 28(26) And he shall gather together a holy people, whom he shall lead in righteousness, And he shall judge the tribes of the people that has been sanctified by the Lord his God. 29(27) And he shall not suffer unrighteousness to lodge any more in their midst, Nor shall there dwell with them any man that knoweth wickedness, 30 For he shall know them, that they are all sons of their God. (28) And he shall divide them according to their tribes upon the land, 31 And neither sojourner nor alien shall sojourn with them any more. (29) He shall judge peoples and nations in the wisdom of his righteousness. Selah. 32(30) And he shall have the heathen nations to serve him under his yoke; And he shall glorify the Lord in a place to be seen of (?) all the earth; 33 And he shall purge Jerusalem, making it holy as of old: 34(31) So that nations shall come from the ends of the earth to see his glory, Bringing as gifts her sons who had fainted, 35 And to see the glory of the Lord, wherewith God hath glorified her. (32) And he (shall be) a righteous king, taught of God, over them, 36 And there shall be no unrighteousness in his days in their midst, For all shall be holy and their king the anointed of the Lord. (Charles, R. H., ed. (1913). Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Vol. 2, pp. 649–650). Clarendon Press.)

  • And that Peter sees rightly that he is God’s Messiah is clear from Jesus’ preaching the kingdom, healing and casting out demons, raising the dead, feeding the multitudes.

Between here and the account of the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus in 10:46, we have 3 repeating cycles interspersed in the narrative that contain the same elements:

  1. Jesus teaches clearly about his coming death and resurrection
  2. The disciples say or do something stupid
  3. Jesus uses this to teach about the true nature of being a disciple What will become clear as we move along is that the true meaning of Christ’s messiahship (which Peter clearly confesses) cannot be correctly known until viewed through the prism of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Cycle 1 (8:31-38) Mark 8:31–38 (ESV) — 31 And 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. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

  • Jesus tells them about his coming suffering, speaking plainly and not in parables
    • He says in v31 - the Son of Man must suffer many things - Why the “must” here?
    • He says the Son of Man (which harks back to Daniel 7) but then mentions the suffering (which directs our attention to Isa. 53). The glorious Son of Man and the ignoble suffering servant are one and the same in Jesus.
  • Peter rebukes him and is in turn rebuked by Jesus
    • Peter reveals he is still partially blind despite his great confession. He sees that Jesus is the Messiah, but he doesn’t yet grasp what that means. He has an agenda for Jesus that doesn’t fit Jesus’ own agenda.
    • What are some ways that those in the church today still envision Jesus in their own image?
  • Jesus teaches that following him means willingness to walk the path of suffering and rejection, accepting the shame from this sinful world in exchange for the glory of being united with Christ. On the contrary, pursuing the life of self-gratification leads to the loss of true life.
    • (1) Say no self - What does this mean? What does Christian self-denial look like? What are some false forms?
      • It is not referring to ascetism or living a life of self-denial
      • It’s a denial of autonomy and self-sufficiency (I am not my own)
    • (2) Say yes to their own death - Willingness to lose anything, up to and including life, for the sake of Christ and the gospel.
      • We sometimes use language of “taking up the cross” in a glib way, but the message to the original hearers would have been crystal clear. To bear a cross meant an terrible, humiliating, excruciating death to people in the first century.
      • Why is this the most logical response for a follower of Jesus?
    • (3) Follow Jesus without shame How does this challenge you?

Cycle 2 (9:30-37) Mark 9:30–37 (ESV) — 30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

  • Jesus tells them about his coming suffering
  • They don’t understand, and are arguing with one another about who is the greates
  • Jesus teaches that in his Kingdom, it is the one who is last and the one who is servant of all who is the greatest.

Cycle 3 (10:32-45) Mark 10:32–45 (ESV) — 32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  • Jesus tells them about his coming suffering
  • James and John posture for a position at Jesus right and left hand when he comes into his kingdom
  • Jesus teaches that in the world, the rules lord it over their subjests and great exercises authority over the least, but in Jesus kingdom it is the opposite. Just as he has come not to be served but to serve, so all who would lead in his kingdom must be slaves, giving their lives in service to others.