Mark 8

Chapter eight is another compendium of several events, much like the first few chapters. Immediately following the miracles in Gentile territory in chapter seven, Jesus did another one. Much like the feeding of the five thousand Jews in chapter six, Jesus provided lunch for four thousand this time (Mark 8:1-10). He had hoped his disciples would remember his power from before and believe in him, but they still doubted his ability to feed that many people. Although the events are similar, and some may confuse them, the location, number of people, and amount of initial food are different from the previous feeding. Additionally, when Jesus confronted the disciples about their unbelief, he referred to the two feedings as separate events (Mark 8:14-21).

The disciples were not the only ones who still did not believe. Mark included a short account of some Pharisees who claimed they would not believe without another sign (Mark 8:11-12). Even though Mark did not often include certain details, he did note that Jesus was becoming exasperated with the constant unbelief. In this case, he sighed “deeply in his spirit” when he refused to do any more “tricks” for their amusement. This confrontation led to yet another trip across the lake (Mark 8:13).

Firmly back in Israel, Jesus was approached by people with a blind man. In a similar way to the deaf/mute in Mark 7:33, Jesus chose to heal this man privately instead of in the middle of the crowd (Mark 8:22-25). For a reason that is never given, Jesus healed this man in two steps rather than just one, the way he normally did. After the first step, the man could see shapes but could not make out the detail. Only after the second step was he healed completely.

Jesus, then, took the disciples to a remote area for a period of intense teaching. He needed to begin preparing them for what was to come with respect to his death and resurrection (Mark 8:31). Before he did this, though, he wanted to be sure his disciples were clear on his identity and mission (Mark 8:27-30), so he asked them who people thought he was. Following their responses, he asked for their opinion. Famously, Peter replied, “You are the Christ.” This apparently caused Peter to think that he had a new level of relationship with Jesus, because when Jesus spoke of his impending death, Peter attempted to rebuke him (Mark 8:32). Instead, Jesus had to rebuke Peter for acting like the devil himself – saying all the right words without the core belief supporting them (Mark 8:33). If Jesus really was the Christ, Peter was standing against God.

The final section focuses on Jesus’ call for more followers (Mark 8:34-38). More than just walking around with him, a true follower must be willing to give up anything which interferes with Jesus as his top priority.