What is the Meaning of Mark 8.11-38

“Do You Really See? Really?”

Mark 8:11-38

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 8.11-38

Mark 8. Topic this morning is spiritual blindness.

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Spiritual blindness is defined by the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology as, “the spiritual condition of persons who are either unable or unwilling to perceive divine revelation.” Spiritual blindness would also include people who know the truth and reject or depart from it. Are people spiritually blind today? Are you spiritually blind today and don’t know it?

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Well, it’s definitely an issue within religions of the world today. All religions are just like the illustration of the elephant. Do you remember that? They’re all these blind men who are feeling the elephant. The one who is touching his leg says that the elephant is a tree. The one touching the tail says that the elephant is a rope. And people say that each religion is like one of these blind men and has some sort of understanding of the truth. But I would like to point out that in that illustration, they are, in fact, all blind. This is spiritual blindness.

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So that’s clearly going on in the world’s religions today. However, is spiritual blindness going on within Christianity today? Now, I’m not asking about Catholicism or those liberal denominations that deny the deity of Christ and the blood atonement and these kinds of things. What I’m asking is, is spiritual blindness found within the confessing broader Evangelical church today? Are people within evangelicalism unable or unwilling to perceive divine revelation?

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Well, many evangelical leaders say “yes.” Just listen to the following book titles written by leaders within evangelicalism.

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  • The coming evangelical crisis: current challenges to the authority of Scripture and the Gospel. Here’s another one…
  • The Compromised Church: The Present Evangelical Crisis.
  • No Place for Truth: Or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theory?
  • David E. Fitch asks in the title of his book, The End of Evangelicalism?
  • Set Apart: Calling a Worldly Church to a Godly Life
  • Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision
  • The Bleeding Of The Evangelical Church
  • Are Evangelicals Born Again?: The Character Traits of True Faith
  • The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?

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I’m reading The Great Evangelical Disaster by Francis Schaeffer, written in the 1980s. Schaeffer was kind of a cultural apologist and did not have kind things to say of the movement of which he was a part. In that book he describes how churches today are compromising on the issue of biblical inerrancy. To do that, he gives this illustration about a watershed. He talks about how he lives near a watershed and how snow builds on this watershed. When it melts, the water on this side goes into this river 500 miles this way and water on this side goes 500 miles this way. The snow seems so close together, but in reality, their position drives them 1000 miles apart.

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What does this illustration have to do with the evangelical world today? [Schaeffer asks…] He says… it would suggest that it is a very accurate description of what is happening. Evangelicals today are facing a watershed concerning the nature of biblical inspiration and authority.”

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Now, we can apply this even further to the church today. Of course, the church at large is still dealing with the issue of biblical inspiration and authority on a number of issues. We could detail all those, but I’d like to hit a little close to home.

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But what’s wrong with our kind of church? Are we spiritually blind? Are we like that snow and we’re falling one way or another? Are we the snow that’s on the biblical side of the issues that’s going into that river or are we on the other side? It seems so close to the scriptural position, but in fact there’s a willful spiritual blindness. And I’m not asking this question to get us off the hook and so we can condemn others. I want to know…I really want to know, “are we spiritually blind? Are you spiritually blind?”

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So, not only is spiritual blindness in the religions of the world, but it’s also among those who name the name of Jesus. And in our passage this morning, we’ll see how that’s true… even the disciples of Jesus didn’t get it. They were spiritually blind. We’ll also see what exactly the disciples didn’t get, that we should. So I would like to preach to you then on “Do you really see? I mean, really?” And within that title, I’m really calling us to do some spiritual examination. Do you see and are you sure? “Do you really see? I mean, really?”

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The Pharisees are spiritually blind (vv.11-13)

First here, the Pharisees are spiritually blind. This is found in verses 11-13.

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Notice how the Pharisees treat Jesus.

Mark 8:11-13 (NASB) 11 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him […here is an attempt to gain control of Jesus], seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.

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Test here does not mean an objective test to discover the merit of something. As if they were the teacher trying to give Jesus a scholastic test. Test here has reference to putting an obstacle or stumbling block in the way in order to discredit Him. They are trying to get him to stumble in some way.

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The word “test” is used of Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Mk. 1:13) and it also refers in other passages to the opposition of the Pharisees (10:2; 12:15).

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And they are looking for a sign, that is, a confirmation of Jesus’ ministry that it is truly from God himself. They are demanding an “outward compelling proof of His divine authority.” As if He hadn’t already done numerous miracles before; … well, perhaps they realize that miracles in and of themselves are not confirmatory of these kinds of things. We could grant them that, but Jesus doesn’t suggest that their request is valid.

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V.12…

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12 Sighing deeply… [meaning…groaning with dismay] in His spirit, He *said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

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Jesus is divinely frustrated with their willing blindness to the truth. No miraculous sign for this generation! In fact, the way this is constructed in the Greek, seems to indicate Jesus saying… “If a sign shall be given to this generation, may I die!” An emphatic categorical denial.

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What else is there to do then? V.13…

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13 Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.

Wow. Sad commentary. 3 terms compounding the fact that Jesus is all done with them. Jesus leaves them, embarks…gets into the boat, and went away … He goes to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

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TRANS: great, so now it’s just Jesus and the disciples. Whew! Safe and secure in the boat. At least now there’s only pure faith found in the boat, right? The opposition was all left on the shore that day, right? Nope, it’s in the boat. The opposition is in the boat.

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So here we have secondly now in verses 14-21, the disciples are spiritually blind.

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The disciples are spiritually blind (vv.14-21)

Really? The disciples are spiritually blind? In this section, Mark helps us understand that even the disciples are ignorant of the truth.

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Mark 8:14-15 sets up the story.

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Mark 8:14-15 (NASB) 14 And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.

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You can just see 2 of the more well-known disciples, Bartholomew and Thaddeus whispering to each other as they are the last ones to get back into the boat, “Did you get the bread, or no?” I thought it was your job this time? Mine? Ah! I only have 1 loaf.” And so of course as verse 14 indicates, they’ve forgotten to take bread.

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V. 15, Jesus aware of this as he always is says…

15 …. “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

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Interestingly, “watch out” here and the word “beware” are typical words translated…get this…. “to see.” In fact, they are not only found in this verse in this passage. Let’s look at the other occurrences.

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The word for “beware” in v.15 is also the word “see” in Mark 8:18 (NASB) “HAVING EYES, DO YOU NOT SEE? AND HAVING EARS, DO YOU NOT HEAR? And do you not remember?

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As well as v. 23…

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Mark 8:23 (NASB) Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” [that too is the word translated “Beware” in v. 15]

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Verse 24. The word for “beware” in v. 15 is found in the first occurrence of the word ‘see’ in Mark 8:24 (NASB) And he looked up and said, “I see men [that’s the word translated “beware” in v.15], … keep going….

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for I see them like trees, walking around.” The second word “see” there is the same word “watch out” in v.15.

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Now, what’s the point? The point is that Mark is drawing a comparison between physical sight of the blind man to the spiritual sight, insight, and comprehension of the disciples. This is certain. Mark is intentionally drawing the comparison for us this morning. And he’s drawing this comparison by the use of these terms for sight. He’s using them to refer to both spiritual comprehension as well as for physical sight to say “See, I want you think about how spiritual comprehension and physical blindness is similar.”

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Not only this, but he will also pile on the words for sight in the story about the blind man, which we’ll get to in a second.

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Now, back to our story. Again, Mark 8:15 (NASB) And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

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Now, leaven here…for you men who don’t cook, is yeast. I was always confused by this word leaven. Why can’t we just say it’s yeast? Anyway…

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Now, what does Jesus mean? What does it mean to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod? Well, if you go to the cross references I think it helps us understand Mark’s point. We can go to Matthew and see that in this story they understand that it’s the teaching that is at issue. Or, we go Luke and see that it is the hypocrisy that is the issue. Teaching is the yeast in Matthew; hypocrisy is the yeast in Luke. But if you ask Mark, he leaves it unexplained. Now, we could conclude that it is either or both the Pharisees teaching that Jesus is warning about or it’s the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that Jesus is warning about and try to make a case for that. Or, we could just let Mark tell us! I think we should let the Mark tell us.

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But, wait, Mark does not tell us. And it is within the fact that he doesn’t tell us that we find Mark’s point. So, we really don’t know. And that’s Mark’s point; we don’t know.

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Notice how the disciples respond. They don’t get it either. Mark 8:16 (NASB) They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.” See, they don’t get it either.

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So, it is as if at this point Bartholomew and Thaddeus continue their discussion …. “Oh great,” Bartholomew says, “So sorry guys, I knew it was my turn to get the bread. I can’t believe I forgot it!”  

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But they are unaware of the real issue…and can we blame them? So are we at this point! We don’t think it’s the disciples lack of bread, but we sure don’t know what it is either! We can’t claim we know what Jesus meant by what He said! And because of the very fact that Matthew and Luke both explain it and Mark leaves it unexplained, tells us, that Mark’s point is to leave it unexplained for the reader. And so it is unexplained to us. And so we don’t know what it is and that has an effect. We are sympathetic now to these disciples. And so that causes us to enter into this story and picture ourselves in the boat. And Mark’s point is to say to the reader that you too may be spiritually blind. So, let me say to you then… “you too may be spiritually blind!

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And it’s humorous to read the commentators debate what Jesus could have meant by his statement in v.15 concerning Mark’s point. Then the commentators fault the disciples for not getting it, of course without realizing they didn’t either! That’s why they are having to debate it! And I know we could go into a discussion of what yeast means in Scripture and these kinds of things and attempt to figure it out that way. But we would still have to ask the question… why do Matthew and Luke explain the parallel and Mark does not? That’s what the commentators debate and the way we’ve handled it here answers the question.

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And so, as a reader, I’m no better than the disciples. I don’t get it either. And that’s the point. Mark’s point is to put you in the story to get you to maybe consider yourself as someone who doesn’t get it, either.

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And now, Jesus goes into somewhat of a tirade of questions to help them understand that they are not getting it; they are spiritually blind. V. 17…

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Mark 8:17 (NASB) 17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?

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And here we have the beginning of 7 questions from Jesus. Beginning v. 18, Jesus is quoting a passage we’ve seen before in Mark 4:12. Jesus quotes from Jer 5:21 as well as Eze 12:2. Verse 18…

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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 you picked up?” They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.”

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And the reason Jesus asked them about the feedings of the five and 4000 here are what we found in the feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6 when we studied this together. We found in that story in the broader context of the story is that immediately after the feeding of the 5000, Jesus makes his disciples get into a boat and they go to the other side and a storm comes and Jesus comes to them walking on the sea and they were all scared and he says to them “take courage. I am. Do not be afraid.” And of course Jesus is revealing himself as the great I AM of the Old Testament, Yahweh.

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And now here, after the feeding of the 4000 at the first part of chapter 8, Jesus again is going to make himself more known to his disciples. And we will find that the confession of Peter in vv.27ff. Mark structures the story very similarly.

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Now, v.21…

21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

And the point is, “no you don’t.” I don’t understand what’s going on this passage. I’m supposed to include myself in this passage.

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“Jesus, what do you mean, ‘do I not yet understand?’ Do I not understand what?” And I as a preacher of this passage could tell you, but I will let Mark make the point a little later. Mark’s driving home the fact that perhaps the reader doesn’t understand. The topic of “not understanding” is the whole point: that’s the very reason why the details of the story are debated in the commentaries. It’s intentionally vague to prove the point that you better reflect and see if you really do understand. For now, we’re left with “do I really understand. Well, do you?” So, I’ll ask you then, “Do you understand? Do You Really See? I mean, really, do you?

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TRANS: No you don’t. Not on your own at least. No one ever gets it unless he receives a touch from Jesus. And that’s the point of the miracle of the next story. The miracle of this next story serves to illustrate the point that you won’t spiritually see whatever it is Jesus wants you to see unless Jesus opens the eyes of your understanding.

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Jesus gives sight to the blind (vv.22-26)

So in this story in verses 22-26 we have a blind man who has eyes, but he does not yet see. This is similar of course now to the disciples in the previous story who in a spiritual sense had eyes but yet did not see.

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And what we’ll see is that Jesus heals through a process. The first touch – is not sufficient and so Jesus touches him a second time and his sight is fully given to him. And the way that the two stories work together give us hope that Jesus can touch his very own disciples a second time and cause their spiritual sight to be fully given to them. And of course it’s verses 27 and following that give us the full understanding of what it is that we’re supposed to spiritually comprehend.

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This is the second miracle that is only found in Mark’s gospel. The other miracle that is only found in the gospel of Mark is the healing of the deaf mute man in Mark 7:31. Interestingly enough, both of them are healed through saliva and touch. Whereas in chapter 7, Jesus heals a deaf man, here Jesus heals a blind man. But both are through saliva and a touch from Jesus.

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Mark 8:22 and they came to Bethsaida. The only other occurrence of the disciples and Jesus visiting this area is …get this… immediately after the feeding of the 5000. And of course this is very appropriate given that Jesus draws upon the feeding of the five and 4000 in our story this morning. Plus, we just had the feeding of the 4,000 at the beginning of the chapter we’re in! So, now they even have a geographical reminder of what is actually going on. “Don’t you remember what happened the last time we were here!”

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And they bring a blind man to Jesus. “Note exhibit A, you disciples! Remind you of anything? Your spiritual blindness perhaps!” So clearly Mark is attempting to help us understand that the disciples are spiritually blind.

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Let’s read vv22-23. See if you can note the words for sight and blindness.

Mark 8:22-26 (NASB) 22 And they *came to Bethsaida. And they *brought a blind man to Jesus and *implored Him to touch him. 23 Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?”

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Does that question there sound familiar? It’s practically the same question in v.18 to the disciples. “Do you not see?” He says to the disciples. Now verse 23, “do you see anything?” Verse 18 do you not see? Verse 21 do you not understand? Verse 23 to the blind man now do you see anything? You can see how Jesus’ words are flowing together to form a strong correlation between physical and spiritual blindness.

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24 And he looked up [better in Greek here he “regained his sight”] and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

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Did you get all the words for sight and blindness?

Get this, in the Greek here there are eight different words used for nine instances of seeing in just three verses from 8:23–25! Wow! Mark is piling on his point here, I’d say.

You might want to mark these in your Bible.

vv.23: blind, eyes, see.

vv.24: looked up, better translated he regained his sight; see men (the same ‘see’ in v.23); then I “see them like trees” (different word ‘see’);

vv.25: eyes, which is actually a different words for eyes then in v.23; looked intently (an intensification of the word the first word “see” in v.24); “to see” end of v.25 which is a modification of that same Greek word, but a different word technically.

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Wow, Mark! Why all the different references to sight? The over-abundant usage of terms that refer to sight and seeing imparts a powerful effect on the story. It provides a strong correlation between physical blindness in this story and misunderstanding and spiritual blindness in the previous story.

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So we don’t want to get too wrapped up in the actual miracle itself, although it is amazing that Jesus did that; however, Mark wants us to focus on the fact that not only can Jesus do this for physical sight, he can do this for people’s spiritual perception as well.

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At this point, you’re wondering, “what should I understand then? Lord Jesus, what must I comprehend? What is it that I need my eyes opened to see?” Mark is about to tell us through the very words of Jesus. From vv.27-38,you must have insight into 3 things. You must comprehend His person, the requirement of his suffering, and your own response to these 2 facts.

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TRANS: So, once again now in verses 27-38, Jesus gives sight to the blind. Just like Jesus gave sight to the blind man, so also Jesus gives spiritual sight to spiritually blind people.

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Jesus gives sight to the blind (vv.27-38)

Now, as this series allows, I don’t want to get hung up on all the details that are found here. This section kind of gives us the preaching points to apply what we’ve been talking about. And that of course this is Mark’s point. He wants us to understand what it is we must spiritually see. We need to understand what it is that we should not be spiritually blind to. We must comprehend from a spiritual standpoint the things found in verses 27-38. The whole message up to this point and the whole passage up to this point has led us to this section that we might give our hearts to it and be able comprehend it.

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First, in verses 27-30, we must understand that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah.

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Mark 8:27-30 (NASB) 27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

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And it is at this point that we are very encouraged by the disciple’s response. For us who understand this much so far that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, we are thankful that Peter responds this way. But we will be disappointed in Peter in this next section, but for now we may be encouraged. Peter gets one out of three correct here. How many will you get? The first 2 aren’t difficult for us today.

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Now who is Jesus and what does it mean that he is “the Christ” as it’s there in verse 29?

We went over this together in one of our Thursday nights together, so I will not belabor this point in detail here. But the Greek word “Christ” and the Hebrew word “Messiah” referr to the same office. The Greek word Christos translates the Hebrew word Messiac. This is one and the same thing. Both terms mean “the anointed one.” So both of them have reference to an anointing. Under the Old Covenant, it was those who held the office of prophet, priest, or king who were anointed with oil, that is, they had oil poured on them as a ritual to initiate them into the office.

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So we talk about the Messiah being the “anointed one” and what we mean is that the Messiah would fulfill the predictions that He would execute all 3 of those mediatorial offices of the Old Testament that required anointing…He would be the unique one to execute all 3 offices.

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As mediatorial offices, we mean that each office mediates in some way. As a prophet he reveals God and speaks God’s words; as a priest the Messiah both offers a sacrifice to God on our behalf and is himself the sacrifice that is offered; and as king he rules over God’s people the church and over the universe.

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So Peter is testifying that Jesus is this promised individual who would come who would fulfill the office of a prophet, priest, and King. Jesus is the fullness of the “anointed one,” the Messiah. He is the Christ.

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So a spiritually illuminated person who has been enlightened by God would be able to affirm with Peter that Jesus is indeed the Christ. He is the Promised One to come as predicted in the Old Testament. So with someone’s confession that Jesus is indeed the Christ he’s giving powerful credence to the reliability of the Old Testament as well as the divine source of Scripture and is offering trust in Jesus that He is the fulfillment of this individual. So someone’s confession of Jesus being the Christ is a marvelous testimony of faith as it relates to the Scripture, to the person of Jesus, and how Jesus fulfills them. That confession is an all-encompassing confession then.

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TRANS: But that alone is not sufficient. It is not sufficient to merely be able to say and believe that Jesus is the Christ. There are many people in the world today who are confessing this and they are not exercising true biblical faith. We also must believe with Mark has next in verses 31-33.

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  1. Second, we must understand that Jesus had to suffer for sin and be raised from the dead.

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Mark 8:31 (NASB) 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.

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So Jesus taught them here that the Son of Man have to suffer these things as well as be raised again from the dead bodily from the tomb after three days. This is a requirement for the truly spiritually illuminated individual. Someone who rejects the death and resurrection of Jesus is not spiritually illuminated. He would be spiritually blind if he does, is Mark’s point.

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And unfortunately, Peter is spiritually blind.

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Mark 8:32 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.

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So here we have Peter being bold as is typical for Peter and he actually rebukes Jesus for saying that Jesus has to suffer and rise again from the dead. Peter would’ve said something like, “no Lord, this shall never happen to you.”

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But v.33…now, we have the last occurrence of the word “to see.” And I wonder if you could draw a point from this. That it is not the disciple’s sight that really matters, it’s Jesus’ sight. Verse 33…

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33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, ….

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And so Jesus turns and he sees his disciples and out of hard love he rebukes Peter in front of all of them. “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Aye!

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Why this reference to Satan in this context of spiritual blindness? Because as 2 Corinthians 4:4 says.… the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

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Not seeing the light of this glorious gospel of the Christ, that Jesus should and must suffer these things at the hands of the elders and chief priests and die and actually rise again from the dead after three days…. Not seeing this all ties back to Satan! Satan blinds the minds of the unbelieving. So when Jesus says to Peter “get behind me Satan” Jesus knows right well that Peter is not Satan, but Jesus also knows what’s behind the spiritual blindness of Peter. Jesus is rebuking Peter because he is spiritually blind. Peter is spiritually blind, because Satan has blinded his mind.

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And we have further insight into the motivation of spiritual blindness when Jesus says what he does after this reference to Satan. Satan blinds the unbelieving through something. He blinds the unbelieving mind by influencing the mind to set its interests on something. Satan blinds unbelievers through tempting them to set their minds on the interests of man to the exclusion of the interests of God.

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So to the degree that we have at heart the interests of man as it contradicts the interests of God, to that degree then, we are spiritually blind. Every time an unbeliever rejects the gospel, it is out of the setting of his mind on the interests of man and not on the interests of God. An unbeliever may reject the gospel on intellectual grounds that rising from the dead is impossible. How can miracles be possible?

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Or the unbeliever may reject the gospel on practical grounds. In other words, he may want to live his life his own way and he knows the teaching on bodily resurrection demands a response and it demands a response of his life. If Jesus has truly been raised from the dead, it changes everything! And he doesn’t want to set his mind on those interests….

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And that’s exactly Jesus next point in vv.34-38.

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  1. Third, we must understand our response.

    Often times for people, it’s not the fact that Jesus is the Christ, and it’s not the fact that Jesus died for our sins and that he was raised again the third day for our sins… Most people in a church service don’t have a problem with that. It’s this third point. The point at issue that really rubs people the wrong way is our response to these facts.

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    If you name the name of Christ and you bear his name and you believe that Jesus died for your sin so that you don’t have to pay the penalty of your sins and if you believe that Jesus actually, literally, bodily was raised from the dead after three days, you want to live like verses 34-38.

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    Mark 8:34 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

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    This is not setting your interests on that of man, but that of God!

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    Note here that Jesus’ first words “to come after me” are similar to his last words of “follow me.” Similarly the two middle phrases are parallel. Denying yourself is illustrated by taking up your cross.

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    We don’t’ get this verse, partly because we have so spiritualized this symbol of the cross. Do you really understand what Jesus is saying here? He is saying that if you are one who desires to come after or follow Jesus, then you must deny yourself. If you want a picture of what it means to deny yourself, the only appropriate picture of this is taking up the cross. Now this does not have reference to some spiritual mystical meaning nor does it have reference to taking up your burden in life and trying to slog your way through life with it. What it means is that you are supposed to take up your execution device. Take your pick.

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    Do you want lethal injection? Perhaps that’s too easy. How about a noose? Perhaps you would like something a little bit more shocking, like an electric chair. Maybe some of you would pick a firing squad. Or perhaps if you lived during the time of the reign of Bloody Mary in England, you would take up stake and fire. Whatever your modern equivalent, it does not even come close to a cross, which is what Jesus demands.

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    The cross was not only extremely painful for many hours, but it was also humiliating. Victims would suffer with pain in their hands and feet as well as the suffering through an inability to breathe. At least with all of these others devices they cause a quick death. Many victims could last for days on their, with no clothes. Humiliating.

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    So Jesus’ statement here of requiring of us we take up our cross is a very graphic statement. And so it graphically illustrates the previous phrase of denying ourselves.

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    And the question is, “denying ourselves of what?” The answer is denying you. You therefore my friend as a follower of Christ are to be dead! You are to be dead to sin and alive to God! You are to give yourself and all of your mental, physical, spiritual resources over to Christ.

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    Just like Jesus’ last statement, in verse 35 we have similar structure.

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    35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

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    The first part is parallel to the last part as seen in the word “saved.” For whoever wishes to save his life” as well as at the end of verse “will save it.”

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    Okay so …..question…. what does it take to save your life? Bad question. Because if you wish to save your life you will lose it. But, if you purposefully lose your life for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of his death burial and resurrection and what all that means for lost humanity, it is at that point, that you will save it.

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    Now, this is all structured as a further explanation of the previous verse. We know that with the word “for” at the beginning of verse 35. So we have here in verse 35 four statements that give us more information on what it means to deny self.

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    To deny yourself first of all does not mean that you want to save yourself. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it. So in your pursuit of denying yourself, it is not for the purpose of saving yourself. Denying yourself is not a work that you do in order to save your own soul.

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    If you have that mindset you will lose your life. This is repentance is it not? You must be done doing it your own way. You cannot save yourself. There is no self-denying work that you can do that will save your own life.

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    But if you want to know how salvation works, it is through what Jesus says there that you must lose your life. Denying yourself in the sense that Jesus means it is that you lose your life for Jesus and for the sake of the gospel.

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    What that means is that all of your plans your ambitions and wishes are subjected to the person and work of Christ. Everything about you your desires your material possessions your plans for the future your family, all of you and what you are, out of love is subjected to Jesus and his gospel of salvation for a lost and dying world.

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    People who have this mindset are not asking questions like, “what can I do in this world and love about this world and still be okay with Jesus?” Bad question.  These people lose their lives. And that’s pretty much the question that Jesus asks in verse 36-37.

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    36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

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    CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 8.11-38

    See, there are certain people who are willing to ride the fence that has this placard on it “gaining the whole world and forfeiting their souls.” They ride this fence. Are you riding this fence? Many people are not willing to come down on one side or the other and by doing so they’re forfeiting their lives.

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    So true a disciple is willing to give up his life and lose his life and deny his own self and plans and ambitions and wishes and lose his life for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of Jesus Christ and his mission on the Earth.

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    And often times people are willing to ride that fence and by doing so they don’t deny themselves, or lose their lives, and what they end up doing is found in verse 38 and they are ashamed of Jesus and his words.

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    38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

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    And you don’t want to be caught in that crowd. So, repent! Turn from this adulterous and sinful generation and this sinful generation of people who even name the name of Christ. If you don’t and you follow along what is commonly termed as “Christianity” today, you are likely headed for an eternity that has as a placard “Ashamed of Jesus!” When the Son of Man comes, will you be ashamed?

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    Wake up! Do the first works! Repent, turn from your love affair with the world, and seek Christ.

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    Oh how I need this myself! So easy to get turned aside and think of the things of this world. Let us lose our own selves for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s.

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    Let’s bow for a moment silent prayer.

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    Let’s sing 312. In keeping with our theme of spiritual blindness, let’s saying turn your eyes upon Jesus. The things of this world sparkle with a seeming attraction that can satisfy. But if we would turn our eyes upon Jesus we wouldn’t see it that way.

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    Notice the first stanza. Are you weary and troubled? Doesn’t seem like you have light in the darkness. So the refrain their turn your eyes upon Jesus…let’s stand…

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Go to Mark Main Page

Go To New Testament Books

Go To BibleTrove Home Page

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