Mark Chapter 8: Feeding Multitudes, Healing Blind Man, Peter Rebukes, Admonitions

Jan 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Mark, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Mark 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,

Mark 8:2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:

Mark 8:3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.

Jesus had compassion on the “very great” multitude that had been with him for three days with nothing to eat. Some had come from quite a distance, and he did not want these to faint or perish on the way home. To have a three-day attention span without food means not only that they slept on the ground but that Jesus’ personality was charismatic and their interest was more than the usual.

Some of the later 500 disciples from this region may well have been among this gathering. Why? Because to stay three days without food cost them something. They were not mere curiosity seekers.

Comment: There were women and children as well as the 4,000 men (verse 9). It is remarkable that the children did not murmur or make a disturbance.

Mark 8:4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

Already the apostles had forgotten the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. The retention of knowledge and interest is important, not just knowledge. In the wilderness, the Israelites forgot the miracles—they forgot what God had done for them. Such examples prove that knowledge alone in the Kingdom will not save anyone.

Mark 8:5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.

Mark 8:6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

Mark 8:7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

Mark 8:8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

As Jesus broke the bread, it just kept multiplying. Leftover fragments filled seven baskets. With the 5,000, there remained twelve baskets, and one day was involved. Here with the 4,000, three days were involved. The twelve apostles (twelve baskets) were on the scene one day. The seven messengers (seven baskets) were on the scene three days. The twelve baskets (apostles) preceded the seven baskets (messengers to the Church). Food is served to Christians through both the apostles and the seven messengers.

In review, the Church (Little Flock) is shown by the multiplication: 7 + 2 + 5 + 2 = 16 5,000 + 4,000 = 9,000 9,000 x 16 = 144,000

Incidentally, the multitudes would not have washed their hands before they ate. So much for the scribes and Pharisees!

Comment: The people were so hungry that it seems the magnitude of the miracle did not penetrate. No comments are recorded.

Reply: Even the apostles were oblivious of the portent of the miracle. Probably the apostles had not eaten either.

Mark 8:9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Mark 8:10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha is an alternate name for Magdala or a village near Magdala.

Mark 8:11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.

It was poor manners for the Pharisees to ask Jesus for a sign from heaven, but they were trying to find something he could not do and thus lower the esteem the people had for him. Their actions show the smallness of their hearts and minds.

Mark 8:12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

Jesus said no sign would be given. On another occasion, he said there would be no sign except “the sign of the prophet Jonas” being in the whale’s belly for parts of three days and three nights (Matt. 12:39,40).

The Pharisees did not view Jesus as God but as one who blasphemed God because of claiming to be His Son. Jesus is the Son promised in Genesis 3:15, the Son of the man (Adam). The seed of woman will bruise the serpent’s head.

Jesus sighed deeply in disappointment over the shallowness of the character of mankind, generally speaking. His emotions went in deep on him. It would seem that surely they would recognize him as Messiah because he spoke and acted as no other man—and considering the volume of miracles! But he went unrecognized by the nation.

In John 6:30-35, the people asked for a sign, saying that their fathers had received manna in the desert, “bread from heaven.” Jesus replied that he was “the true bread from heaven.” In other words, Jesus himself was the sign they kept rejecting.

Mark 8:13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

Jesus left the Pharisees and went back across the Sea of Galilee, going diagonally (northeast) to Bethsaida.

Mark 8:14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

Mark 8:15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

Mark 8:16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.

Mark 8:17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

Mark 8:18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

Mark 8:19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.

Mark 8:20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.

Mark 8:21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

Jesus was trying to raise their thinking to a higher level. The supplied food represented his message, his words, but even the apostles did not have a depth of understanding until Pentecost when they got the Holy Spirit, the spirit of remembrance. Then the meaning of Jesus’ words dawned on them.

The apostles were so foggy at this time that Jesus treated them almost like little children.

“Don’t you understand what has been happening? Have you been in a daze?” These verses confirm that the leftover 12 + 7 baskets  represented the spiritual food served by the 12 apostles and the 7 messengers, respectively.

Here is an example where Jesus criticized even his own disciples—but constructively. Another time (Luke 9:44) Jesus said, “Let what you just heard sink down deep into your ears. Do not hear superficially, or you will forget.” His words should sink into our hearts, the seat of our emotions.

Comment: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” means, “Beware of the false doctrine of the religious and civil establishment.”

Mark 8:22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.

Mark 8:23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught.

Why did Jesus lead the blind man out of town to heal him? Bethsaida had already been the scene of many healings and blessings, but the people were not worthy of further favor. Jesus said in effect, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, Capernaum, and Sidon” (Matt. 11:21-24).

Thus he was reluctant to perform a miracle in the presence of those who were not favorably disposed to him. Not only did insincere curiosity seekers not have ears to hear, but they caused an atmosphere that was not conducive to healing. In other words, a negative influence impedes the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ leaving town was a tacit rebuke to those of Bethsaida.

Jesus took the blind man by the hand—how touching! Others had led the blind man to him, and now he was personally leading the blind man. Jesus spit ceremonially on the blind man’s eyes.

At first the sight was only partially restored.

Others besought Jesus to heal the blind man, and Jesus healed him in two stages. Thus others had the faith here, and not necessarily the blind man himself (although the account does not say). Sometimes faith on behalf of others is rewarded for the one weak in faith.

Comment: This is a picture of the Kingdom where people (the sheep class in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats) will be expected to pray for and help others.

Mark 8:24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.

After Jesus spit on the blind man’s eyes, put his hands on him, and asked what he saw, the man said, “Men as trees, walking.”

Mark 8:25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

The restoration process was repeated; here it was a two-step process. The healing was a sevenstep process with Naaman the leper, who washed seven times in the Jordan River, and with the Shunammite’s son, who sneezed seven times when Elisha raised him to life (2 Kings 4:32-35; 5:9-14).

What do the two steps represent? This is probably a Kingdom picture. The “spittle” pictures the Lord’s Word. “Trees,” representing human beings, are a symbol of maturity and growth when contrasted with grass. The two steps picture the enlightenment of the people during the Kingdom. Blind humanity will be brought up to a level of maturity, but another step will be needed after they are “trees, walking.” While going through the process, mankind will not as clearly understand, but those who pass the final test of the Little Season will look back and see fully what has happened. Incidentally, there is a learning process in the Gospel Age too.

God’s Wisdom is the last attribute to be seen. It will be seen when His plan is complete—after the Little Season when the incorrigible have been removed. All who get life will know God.

Jesus said in Gethsemane, “This is life eternal … [to] know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ”; that is, life eternal is equated with knowing God and Jesus (John 17:3).

All who get life will know God in a true and understanding sense, not just in an intellectual sense or in having a general familiarity with the plan. Our blessing will be proportional as we develop our hearts accordingly. Hence there is a danger in just speaking about the plan—or in praising certain individuals. Jesus is to be praised, and the Father above all. Those who properly obey God will know Him in that sense. Jesus praised God all the time at his First Advent because he knew God from his preexistence. He had a heart affinity for God and His ways. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many” (Isa. 53:11). Jesus’ preexistent knowledge carried him through the agony of the Cross.

It is a life work for us to know God and His Son. “More love to thee, O Christ” and to the Father!

Mark 8:26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

We should not tell everything, for only a fool tells all he knows (Prov. 10:19; 29:11). A fool’s mouth rattles as a chatterbox. Reserve is sometimes proper. Jesus told the blind man not to go into town or tell anyone. Sometimes it is propitious not to tell a matter. Jesus took the man out of town to cure him because of the antipathy in Bethsaida. Also, the man may have lived in a suburb, so he was to return to his own home and could tell his family.

Mark 8:27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

Caesarea Philippi is a region about 25 to 30 miles north of Bethsaida, in the area of Mount Hermon.

Mark 8:28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.

Mark 8:29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.

Jesus asked: (1) “Who do men say that I am?” (2) “Who do you say that I am?” In other words, “Never mind what the others think. Aren’t you able to discern the matter?” It was encouraging that Peter burst out with the affirmation “Thou art the Christ!”

Mark 8:30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Q: In addition to the previous reasoning as to why the cured blind man was not to tell about the miracle in the town, wouldn’t a subsidiary reason be that it prepared the disciples for not telling what Peter now confessed, because again Jesus said not to tell?

A: Yes, and there were other reasons as well. Jesus did not want his popularity to grow too soon, for his death had to occur at a precise time.

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

Mark 8:33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

Peter began to rebuke the Lord. He forgot himself. But Jesus disclosed the real source of that suggestion in his rebuke to Peter, namely, the Adversary.

Comment: Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was even more remarkable because the same apostle had just said, “Thou art the Christ!”

Reply: When channeled by the Holy Spirit, an impulsive nature makes a more disciplined soldier of the Cross than the gentle ones. Love and justice should be blended.

The information about Jesus’ death was sober news that none of the disciples wanted to hear.

Peter’s words were a stratagem of Satan to make Jesus falter in his purpose, and Jesus realized this. Satan was more interested in Jesus than in Peter, but Satan used Peter to try to influence Jesus and divert the focus of his attention.

Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his  disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

The “people” were potential disciples. They and those who were already disciples needed this advice. Cross bearing, a higher step than self-denial, is needed to be of the Little Flock. Selfdenial is more the characteristic of the Great Company, who fail to take up their cross sufficiently. We are reminded of the Lord’s goat versus the scapegoat. The Lord’s goat died sacrificially on the altar, whereas the scapegoat had to be forced to sacrifice.

Luke 9:23 adds “daily”—“Let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily.” We are to live our consecration daily!

Mark 8:35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

This serious admonition applies even to the Great Company. Some have renounced their faith under great pressure and then had second thoughts and died courageously. The point is NOT TO DENY THE LORD! Human flesh cringes from suffering and death, but the test for life is severe.

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The implication is that some Christians have turned back to the world and gotten great rewards from the world’s standpoint. One aspect of the verse should be sober news to successful evangelists. As they prosper and multiply, they should remember that their “security” does not depend on the number of conversions. If it is true that at one time, the present pope (John Paul) was familiar with the Harvest message and then allowed himself to accept that title and be worshipped, a serious fate awaits him. Popularity is scary—it is a great temptation!

Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

The “Son of man” is Jesus, and whoever is ashamed of him and his words, of him shall Jesus be ashamed when he comes “in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” We are “ashamed” of Jesus if we are ashamed of our brethren. (The exception would be when a brother has grievously sinned. For example, we should not go to visit a brother in prison who is guilty of child molestation, thinking that we are showing our love for him. Common sense must be used.) If a brother is not learned and we are ashamed of him for this reason, we are guilty.

Indeed the illiterate can love the Lord, and their love should make us stand up for them, even though they lack education, money, manners, etc. We would be guilty if we were ashamed of one the Lord loved dearly. On the other hand, we reap treasures in heaven if we support those whom the Lord especially loves, sometimes even bringing suffering on ourselves.

The Scriptures caution us not to speak evil of “dignities,” and “dignities” in the Lord’s sight may not even be elders (2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 8). Moreover, we should not wish a person Godspeed too hastily. As the Apostle Paul said, “Lay hands suddenly on no man” (1 Tim. 5:22).

Comment: We should pray for elders, for when Satan gets to an elder, he can get to a whole class.

Reply: Satan especially wants to influence those who have influence. Conduct and doctrine are areas of attack.

 

(1993–1994 Study)

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