Lesson 8Mark Chapter 8
This lesson comprises our study of Mark Chapter 8, and we again travel with Jesus. You will recall that in our last lesson, Jesus was in the Decapolis area, somewhere on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. Our current lesson opens with him once again confronted by large crowds, in the range of 15,000-20,000 people; and, once again, he is performing unheard-of miracles. He and his disciples will travel back across the Sea of Galilee to an area south of Capernaum, where he will once again confront the Pharisees. From there, he will travel across the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee past Capernaum to Bethsaida, and then on up further north to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. You have probably already discovered that you need to have a good map handy as we follow Jesus around the Sea of Galilee. The two photos below show you another view of crossing the Sea of Galillee, as well as a picture that I took in the area of Ceasaria Philippi where, as we will see in this lesson, Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say I am?"
Read through Mark 8 and consider the following questions.
- In Mark 8:1-10, we once again see Jesus feeding a large crowd, i.e., 4,000 men and probably 15,000-20,000 people total, with just seven loaves of bread and a few fish. After reading these verses, I think most of us would be stunned by the disciples comments. How does their situation apply in our lives? What can we learn from this experience that will help our witness and help us live better for Jesus?
- After Jesus fed this large crowd, in fact now having fed two large crowds since the beginning of the book of Mark, Jesus and his disciples leave the area of the Decapolis and sail across the Sea of Galilee to the region of "Dalmanutha." Many scholars believe that this area is also known to us as "Magdala," mentioned in Matthew 15:39. While he is teaching in this area, the Pharisees once again come to question him. This time, they want him to produce a sign from heaven. In response, Jesus gives them a harsh rebuke and leaves. Why do you think he responded in such a way to the Pharisees? (see Mark 8:10-13)
- After reading Mark 8:10-13, one might wonder what would have happened with the Pharisees had Jesus actually given them a sign from heaven? Wouldn’t that have led to a great revival across the land? (see Luke 16:29-31)
- Jesus and his disciples now head northeast across the Sea of Galilee and arrive at Bethsaida. While crossing, something amazing happens: they forget to put bread on board, and they only have one loaf among all of them. Sound familiar? it seems that the disciples are always facing challenges where bread is involved. Jesus, having just admonished the Pharisees, uses the opportunity to teach the disciples an important lesson. What was it, and how did the disciples respond? (see Mark 8:14-21)
- In Mark 8:22-26, we observe Jesus performing what we might call a two-stage, or two-step, miracle. Rather than healing a blind man instantaneously in front of the large crowd, he pulls the blind man aside and out of the village, so that only he and the man are together. He applies his saliva to the man’s eyes; and then, oddly enough, he asks the man what he sees. (Surely, Jesus already knew what the man was seeing!) When the man explains that he can only see images of people, and that he sees nothing clearly; Jesus than places his hands on the blind man, and his sight is fully restored. He can see clearly. Given the uniqueness of this miracle, what do you suppose that Jesus was actually teaching? Do you think that perhaps he was teaching something to his disciples? What would that have been, and what does it teach to us as well? (Why was this miracle placed here by Mark?)
- Jesus and his disciples now begin to travel approximately twenty-five miles north of Bethsaida to Caesarea Philippi. Mark 8:27-30 tells us that, as they traveled, Jesus asked them the question, "Who do people say I am?" To this, Peter answered, "You are the Messiah." Note that Peter calls Jesus the Messiah, but doesn’t fully comprehend what being the Messiah entails. We know this because of Peter’s actions in Mark 8:31-33. Knowing that Jesus was the Messiah, what did Peter do when Jesus tells them he must be killed and in three days rise again? Also read Isaiah 52:13-15 and Isaiah 53:1-12. Wouldn’t Peter have been familiar with these verses, since he was raised from birth as a Jew looking forward to the coming of the Messiah?
- Mark concludes chapter 8 with Jesus teaching about the way of the cross. What specifically is Jesus teaching the crowd, and us, about following him as a disciple? He tells them, and us, to do two things. What are they, and how do they apply to us today? (see Mark 8:34-38)
Our biggest lesson this week is seeing what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. By learning from the mistakes of both the Disciples and the Pharisees, we can grow in our daily walk with him. Denying ourselves and taking up our cross so that we can become true disciples, true followers of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah.
In His Name,