Mark 8:1-10 Another great crowd of 4,000 men gathered, not including women and children. Jesus had compassion on them, for they had gone three days with nothing to eat. Jesus’ disciples questioned how they were going to feed them. When asked by Jesus, the disciples replied that they had seven loaves of bread. Jesus once again blessed the bread and the few fish they had. He instructed His disciples to give them to the people. They all ate. The leftovers were put into seven huge, Gentile style baskets. After Jesus dismissed the crowd, He and His disciples got into a boat and went to the district of Dalmanuth (Magadan or Magdala).
Notes: The feeding of the 4,000 shows that Jesus is the living bread for Gentiles, since it likely occurred in Gentile territory. Some find the disciples’ question incredible in light of the earlier feeding of the 5,000. But it was consistent with their spiritual dullness and lack of understanding. Baskets here refers to large baskets (large enough to hold a man, Acts 9:25) used by Gentiles. The number of the men only, not including the women and children. This could indicate at least 16,000 people.
Mark 8:11-13 The Pharisees came and argued with Jesus that He should show them a astronomical sign in the heavens that He had the authority from God to say and do all that He did (contrary to the religious leaders customs and traditions). Jesus sighed and said no sign would be given because of their unbelief. Jesus and His disciples got back into the boat and went to the other side.
Notes: Their demand for a sign, however, excludes the one essential demand that Jesus required: a fundamental change of heart. An open heart, together with Jesus’ demonstrations of divine authority, should be more than enough for seeing that he truly is the Messiah. The supreme sign verifying his claim to be the Son of God and Messiah was to be his resurrection. The “leaven” of the Pharisees included both their false teaching and their hypocritical behavior.
Mark 8:14-21 In the boat, Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. The disciples were thinking of physical bread, for leaven was used to make dough rise. It reminded them that they only had one loaf of bread onboard the ship. They completely missed the spiritual meaning of what Jesus said. Jesus rebuked them for they still lacked understanding. He told them that even though they had eyes and ears, they were not using them to understand spiritual matters because their hearts were hard. He asked them how many left over baskets they had after the two times that He fed the large crowds. The disciples answered correctly, but still, they did not put two and two together and come to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah.
Notes: Leaven is a figurative description of the self-centered self-reliance of both the Pharisees and Herod Antipas. Jesus warns his disciples against such an attitude. In other words, the disciples were not to follow the way and teachings of the Pharisees and Herod Antipas.
Mark 8:23-26 When they arrived in Bethsaida, a blind man was brought to Jesus for healing. Jesus led the blind man out of the village (No witnesses) to heal him. Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and asked if he could see. The man could see light, but everything was blurry. He mistakened the people walking around as trees. Jesus laid His hands on the man’s eyes and completed the healing. Jesus sent the man home and warned him not to return to the village, apparently so he would not tell everyone that Jesus healed him.
Notes: Jesus led the blind man out of the village, perhaps to be away from elements of unbelief and hostility. Do you see anything? In the context of 7:31–8:26, and especially in light of Jesus’ focus on the disciples’ lack of understanding, the man’s answer may be analogous to their limited apprehension of Jesus. They see him vaguely, just as the blind man now sees people merely like trees, walking. Jesus’ healing of the man in two stages may have been intended to emphasize this fact.
Mark 8:27-33 On their way to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the disciples who people thought that He was. They said they thought him to be John the Baptist, Elijah, or a great prophet. He asked them who they thought He was. Peter spoke up and said he believed Jesus to be the Messiah or the Christ (Greek). Jesus did not deny the title and warned the disciples to tell no one. Now that the truth was revealed to them, Jesus went on to explain that the “Son of Man” would suffer, be rejected by the elders, chief priests, scribes, and eventually the people, be put to death, and would rise after three days. The disciples understood that Jesus was talking about Himself, but they did not understand what rising in three days meant. The Jews understood the title “Son of Man” to denote mankind generally in contrast to deity or godhead, with special reference to the human weakness and frailty. Also, the Jewish people understood that everyone would rise from the dead at the end of time. No one anticipated that the Messiah would first come to suffer and die and rise first before the end of time.
Peter, not thinking spiritually or understanding that Jesus MUST die, tried to talk Jesus out of letting it happen. They wanted Jesus to declare Himself King NOW, kick out the Romans, and rule on the throne of David. Jesus rebuked Peter in front of the other disciples when He said, “Get behind me Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Jesus wasn’t calling Peter “Satan”, but meant that Satan was speaking through Peter, for Satan’s will was that Jesus NOT die on the cross which was the Father’s plan from the beginning time to save mankind.
Notes: But who do you say that I am? After they reported the prevailing erroneous views about Jesus, he asked the disciples to give their own evaluation of who he was. The answer every person gives to this question will determine his or her eternal destiny.
tell no one. Jesus’ messianic mission cannot be understood apart from the cross, which the disciples did not yet understand.
Jesus corrects the disciples’ messianic expectation by stressing that the Son of Man must be killed and rise again. Christ’s death is necessary because the eternal, messianic rule of God begins with atonement for sin, i.e., the sacrifice that will bring about reconciliation between God and man.
Mark 8:34-38 Calling together His disciples and the crowd that was around Him, Jesus told them that anyone that tried to save their lives their own way, would lose eternal life. All those who forsook their own way and follow Jesus’ way, would gain eternal life. In order to follow Jesus’ way, they had to forsake their own way, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus. Jesus said that even if a man gained the whole world, it wasn’t worth the losing of one’s soul eternally. The soul’s worth is beyond anything that man could physically possess. If you are not willing to follow Jesus, then you are ashamed of Him, for Jesus, after He returns to the earth with His holy angels, will be ashamed of you and exclude you from eternal life. All those that are not Christ’s when He returns to the earth, will immediately be killed by Him.
Notes: Call to Discipleship. The cost of discipleship includes being able to follow Jesus and to confess him courageously. Self-denial means letting go of self-determination and replacing it with obedience to and dependence on the Messiah. Jesus’ paradoxical statement demands two different senses of the word “life”: whoever lives a self-centered life focused on this present world (i.e., would save his life) will not find eternal life with God (will lose it); whoever gives up his self-centered life of rebellion against God (loses his life) for the sake of Christ and the gospel will find everlasting communion with God will save it.
soul. The real person, who will live forever in heaven or hell. To have all that the world has to offer yet not have Christ is to be eternally bankrupt; all the world’s goods will not compensate for losing one’s soul eternally.
ashamed of me and of my words. Those who reject the demands of discipleship prove themselves to be ashamed of Jesus Christ and the truth he taught, thus not redeemed from sin at all.