Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mark 8 - Feeding the 4,000 and "You are the Christ"
LINK: Mark 8


105. Jesus feeds 4,000: Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-10

This occurs in the predominantly Gentile region of Decapolis (#10 on the map). The inclusion of the Gentile world in God's plan of salvation is again reinforced at the feeding of the 4,000. The 5,000 were mostly Jews, but the 4,000 were located in a Gentile region of Palestine.

106. Leaders demand a miraculous sign: Matthew 16:1-4, Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were opposed to each other in many ways. The Sadducees believed only in the books of Moses (Genesis - Deuteronomy) and did not believe in life after death. The Pharisees believed in all Scripture and obeying all their added on religious rules and traditions. They also believed in the resurrection of the dead.

Although they were often opposed, they united against their common enemy, Jesus. Despite all the miracles Jesus had performed, they wanted more signs. They had already missed all the spiritual signs that pointed to Jesus as the Christ. Would one more make any difference? Jesus knew it would not bring them to believe. 

By the way, now we know that the origin of this saying is from the Bible:

Red sky at night: Sailor's delight. 
Red sky at morn: Sailor's warn.

107. Jesus warns against wrong teaching: Matthew 16:5-12, Mark 8:14-21

Jesus had already fed the 5,000 and 4,000, and the disciples were worried about not having enough bread? They did not get it!

This time the "yeast/leaven" of the Pharisees refers to evil or false doctrine that had corrupted the whole nation.  Evil sometimes can be small and hidden like leaven, but it spreads and infects everything. Leaven is also given as a picture of false doctrine (Galatians 5:1-9), sin that is not dealt with in the church (1 Corinthians 5), and hypocrisy (Luke 12:1) in other places in the New Testament. 

108. Jesus restores sight to a blind man: Mark 8:22-26

This miracle is only recorded in the book of Mark, and it is gradual, as opposed to how quickly the blind man is healed in Mark 10:46-52. Isaiah 35:5-6 was fulfilled in Jesus!

Jesus instructed the man not to go to unbelieving Bethsaida, where He had already been rejected. 

109. Peter says Jesus is the Messiah: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-20

This event marks a new phase of Jesus' ministry. He withdrew more from Jewish dominated regions to predominantly Gentile ones in order to avoid large crowds and Jewish opposition and concentrate more on investing in the disciples who would carry on His work. Caesarea-Philippi (#13 on the map) was ruled by Herod Philip who was a more just ruler than his half brothers Archelaus and Antipas, and he had no reason to be suspicious like Antipas (see Event #95). 

Before He begins this more intense investment for the future, He makes sure they understand who He is! Peter responds that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah; "the anointed One." The Old Testament made clear that the Messiah was God (Isaiah 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2). This is an amazing declaration by Peter, and was the green light for Jesus to proceed with His plan!

Peter (Petros, masculine in Greek) was strong like a rock. Jesus said that "on this rock (petra, feminine in Greek) He would build His church. Jesus praised Peter for understanding that He was the Messiah, and He introduced His work of building the church (first occurrence of this word in the New Testament) with Himself as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). He proceeded to tell the disciples that not even his physical death would prevent the building of the church. 

The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Revelation 1:18, Revelation 3:7) can be understood as Jesus giving Peter authority like a master would give the key to his treasures to his faithful steward. Peter and the disciples were given the authority to steward and carry on the work of spreading the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. 

"Binding and loosing" was a common phrase to the Jews and means "forbidding or permitting."  The religious leaders thought they had the "keys" (authority) to forbid and permit, but Jesus gave that authority to the disciples! It would not be according to unreasonable, man-made traditions but according to the will and word of God. 

110. Jesus predicts his death the first time: Matthew 16:21-28, Mark 8:31-9:1, Luke 9:21-27

The next section confirms that Peter could NOT be the "rock" of the church that many interpreters believe because he challenged Jesus prediction of His death and resurrection! Jesus rebuked him for it! 

Now that the disciples have an idea of who Jesus is and what would come in the future. He invited them into the life of costly discipleship: denying self, taking up one's cross, and following Him.  It was a life of complete devotion!

The end of this section indicates that they will see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom before they taste death. Since all the disciples died before Christ's return, this is either referring to the transfiguration in the next chapter or Pentecost (Acts 2) where certain disciples were eyewitnesses to Christ's power and glory!


I had no inspiration for a reflection today until I read this in The Daily Walk:
In the case of the blind man of Bethsaida, Jesus led the man out of town, spit on his eyes, and placed His hands on the man's face twice before his sight was fully restored. With Bartimaeus of Jericho (Mark 10:46-52), full healing came with just the speaking of a word. 
So it is with spiritual lessons God may want to teach you. In your friend's life, God may teach dependence through financial problems. You learn the same lesson through illness. Another Christian learns to walk by faith in affluence; you learn in poverty. One person learns patience through being single; you learn through having a spouse. In each case, the danger is to compare -- rather than commit to -- God's perfect curriculum for you. Every time you see an "Under Construction" sign next to a building or highway this month, let it remind you that God is not finished with you yet. 
(October 13,2008, p.18)

Lord, we commit to the sometimes slow process of transformation and conforming to Your likeness. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. 
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