A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 8:22-38 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study

Introduction

Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 8:22-38

What a valuable thing it is to hear about what Jesus did on earth and to read His words! That is what Mark’s Gospel is all about and so far we have seen enough to have a picture of Jesus in our minds. True man, yet strangely powerful. Able to resist opposition and yet compassionate toward the weak. Wise in every way, humble, but willing to receive honour and worship. All points to His claim to be divine, equal with God the Father. Today we see more of His deeds and hear more of His teaching.

Jesus healing a blind man
Jesus healing a blind man. 2009. Canvas, oil. Artist Andrey Mironov

Verses 22-24 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

Jesus healed a number of blind men in His ministry. This one we read about only in Mark. It is different in that the healing was not instantaneous. Why, we don’t know. Nor do we know why spittle was involved. We can see that faith is required on the part of the blind man and that power was available to restore his sight. Maybe it took a moment or two for him to get his eyes into focus. No doubt he knew something about trees and people because of touch.

Verses 25 & 26 Once more Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village.”

But then came the distinct appearance of everything in view. No doubt an experience of great joy. Perhaps Jesus thought it better for him to go home and share his joy than to cause commotion in the village—which would increase publicity that Jesus did not want at that time.

Verses 27 & 28 Jesus and His disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

Jesus and His followers were journeying to the north part of the country. The answer to Jesus’ question shows that there was confusion in the thinking of many about the identity of Jesus. John the Baptist had been beheaded, so some must have believed he had risen. Elijah was an outstanding prophet from Old Testament days. All guesswork. Notice that Jesus wasn’t thought of as an ordinary man.

Verses 29 & 30 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him.

In saying this, Peter showed that he was convinced Jesus was the long-promised Messiah. The word ‘Christ’ means ‘The Anointed One’—the one who was to be the Saviour of mankind. Apparently, Jesus did not want too much exposure at this time. He knew that He was a wanted man. The Jewish hierarchy was plotting against Him.

Verse 31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.

Jesus referred to Himself as “Son of Man”, a title with Old Testament significance. He knew what was to befall Him in Jerusalem and He knew it was inevitable. He had come into the world to die and to rise again. This was the plan of God. He wanted His disciples to get a grasp of this.

Verses 32 & 33 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. “Out of my sight, Satan!” He said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.

What Jesus said was quite clear. Yet the disciples did not understand very clearly at all.
Peter’s reaction was to try to persuade Jesus not to go ahead with it. Jesus answered him sharply, showing that Peter was out of place, speaking unwisely. Jesus knew it was all going to be a great trial, but there was no alternative.

Verses 34 & 35 Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.

Jesus here is spelling out the conditions of discipleship. To follow Christ is costly. To the point that it seems like giving your life away to be loyal to another. The cross, of course, speaks of sacrifice which is part of the disciple’s life. So there is the choice to keep life as safe and comfortable as possible, or to risk it for the sake of Christ.

Verses 36 & 37 For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

These are questions with no answer. If a man prefers his own way and even gains the whole world, does he have a bargain if he is a lost soul? Our life, which goes on even after death, is precious and nothing could possibly buy it. It is priceless. How challenging are these words!

Verse 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.

This is a reference made by Jesus to His second coming. It is obvious from Scripture that when Christ returns, things will be very different. His presence will be known and felt. He will not act meekly and quietly. His judgements will be strong, overthrowing earthly powers. Those people who have been ashamed to stand out and belong to Christ will feel the power of His judgments. These are the issues that divide humanity. Either we are Christ’s or we are not. Either we will be ready to meet Him or we will not.

CONCLUSION

As we progress through this book we can see how Jesus is preparing His disciples for the testing times ahead of them. He wants nothing less than full commitment on their part. When He leaves this scene the work of the gospel must go on and these men are the ones who will lead the way. They yet have much to learn.

These words also speak to our hearts. How do we respond to the call of Christ to be disciples of His? The same conditions apply in our day as they did then. There is no escape from the challenge. We will choose one way or the other.

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