Friday, January 3, 2014

Don't Miss the Point (Mark 8.1-9.1)

Scripture: Mark 8.1-9.1
Translation: 8.1In those days because there was a huge crowd again and they didn't have anything they could eat, after summoning the followers, He said to them, 2“I feel compassion for the crowd, because for three days they’ve already stayed with Me and not had anything they could eat. 3And if I dismiss them to their homes starving, they will collapse on the way. And some of them are here from far away.” 4And His followers answered Him, “Where can someone [get] bread from to feed these people here in the desert?” 5And He asked them, “How many pieces of bread do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” 6And He told the crowd to sit down for dinner on the ground. And after taking the seven pieces of bread, while giving thanks He broke [the bread] into pieces and gave [it] His followers, so that they could hand [it] out. And they handed [it] out to the crowd. 7And they had a few fish. And after blessing them He said to hand these out too. 8And they ate and were fed full. And they picked up leftovers, seven baskets of the broken pieces. 9And there were about 4000 people. And He dismissed them.
10And immediately after He got into the boat with His followers, He came into the regions of Dalmanutha. 11And the Pharisees came out and began to debate Him, looking for a sign from Heaven from Him, for the purpose of testing Him. 12And groaning loudly with His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation look for a sign? Amen, I say to you, if a sign will be given to this generation!”
13And leaving them, He got in the boat again and went away to the other side [of the sea]. 14And they forgot to take bread and they didn’t have [any] with them in boat except for one piece of bread. And He gave them orders by saying, “Watch out! Look out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” 16And they were discussing with one another that they didn’t have pieces of bread. 17And because He knew, He said to them, “Why are you discussing that you don’t have bread? Don’t you know or understand yet? Do you have hardened hearts? 18Since you have eyes, don’t you see? Since you have ears, don’t you hear? And don’t you remember 19when I broke the 5 pieces of bread for the 5000? How many full baskets of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Twelve.” 20“When [I broke into pieces] the seven [pieces of bread] for the 4000, how many baskets did you pick up, things filled up with broken pieces?” And they said, “Seven.” 21And He said to them, “Don’t you understand yet?”
 22And they came into Bethsaida. And they were bringing to Him a blind guy. And they were urging Him, so that He would touch him. 23And holding the hand of the blind guy, He brought him out outside of the village. And spitting into his eyes, putting His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24And looking up he said, “I see humans that I see like trees walking around. 25Then He put His hands on his eyes again. And he opened his eyes wide and restored and he saw absolutely everything clearly. 26And He sent him into his house saying, “Don’t even go into the village!”
27And Jesus went out along with His followers into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way He questioned His followers saying to them, “Who do the men say that I am?” 28And they spoke to him saying, “‘John the Baptist,’ and others ‘Elijah,’ but others ‘one of the prophets.’” 29And He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” And to answer, Peter said to Him, “You are the Messiah!” 30And He commanded them, so that they would say nothing about Him. 31And He began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and to be rejected as a fake by the elders and the high priests and the scholars and killed and after three days to rise up. 32And He was speaking the message with bold clarity. And taking Him aside, Peter began to reprimand Him. 33But turning around and seeing His followers, He reprimanded Peter and said, “Go behind Me, Satan, because you don’t think the things of God, but the things of humans!”
34And summoning the crowd with His followers, He said to them, “If someone wants to follow behind Me, he had better deny himself and pick up his cross and follow Me! 35Because whoever would want to save his life will destroy it, but whoever will destroy his life for the sake of Me and the Gospel will save it! 36Because what good does it do for a man gain the whole world and lose his life? 37Because what might a human give in exchange for his life? 38Because whoever would be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him, whenever He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels!” 9.1And He said to them, “Amen, I say to you that some are standing here, who most definitely can’t taste death until they would see the Kingdom of God coming with power!”
1.      Structure
a.       Jesus feeds 4000 Gentiles (8.1-9)
b.      Jesus refuses to give a Sign (8.10-12)
c.       Jesus gets frustrated with His followers (8.13-21)
d.      Jesus heals a blind man in two stages (8.22-26)
e.       Jesus asks His followers Who He is on the road (8.27-30)
f.       Jesus teaches His followers what will happen to Him and rebukes Peter (8.31-33)
g.      Jesus explains what being a true follower is all about (8.34-38)
h.      Jesus promises some people will see the Kingdom of God before death (9.1)
2.      Themes
a.       Seeing
                                                              i.      The theme of seeing comes out in different ways in this section
                                                            ii.      It comes out in 8.18 when Jesus says the followers don’t see even though they have eyes
                                                          iii.      Immediately after this, Jesus heals a blind man in two stages, with multiple words for seeing and looking being used (8.22-26)
                                                          iv.      Later Jesus looks at His followers before rebuking Peter in front of them, so that it is clear that Jesus is looking at them and they see what He says to Peter
                                                            v.      Finally, Jesus promises that some will see the Kingdom of God before they die
b.      Bread
                                                              i.      This appears several times in 8.1-9
                                                            ii.      It also appears in 8.13-21, where Jesus’ disciples misunderstand what He is saying, by thinking that He is talking about bread, which then makes Jesus explain one of the points of the His feeding thousands of people.
c.       Discipleship
                                                              i.      This is an undercurrent throughout the whole section
                                                            ii.      Jesus is teaching about discipleship when He feeds the 4000
                                                          iii.      Jesus teaches about discipleship when He refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees
                                                          iv.      Jesus tries to teach about discipleship when He warns His followers about the “yeast of the Pharisees and Herod”
                                                            v.      Jesus teaches about discipleship by explaining one of the implications of His feeding the 5000 and the 4000, and more specifically how the disciples are those who should understand the implications of what He does
                                                          vi.      Jesus when He heals the blind man
                                                        vii.      Jesus tests the discipleship of His disciples when He asks Who they think He is
                                                      viii.      Jesus teaches on discipleship when He rejects Peter’s correction, by say that really discipleship is about having God’s aims and understandings control one’s actions and words and not those of humans
                                                          ix.      Jesus teaches on discipleship when He explains that following Him means following Him to the death, that there is high cost, but avoiding risk to save your life will get you killed
                                                            x.      Jesus also explains that following Him means not being ashamed of Him, but He also promises that the sacrifice of following Him will be worth it, because it will give us life as well as affirmation before God by Jesus when Jesus comes
d.      Understanding
                                                              i.      Jesus talks about understanding mainly when He is interacting with His closest followers
                                                            ii.      Jesus expects them to understand the implications of His actions and His words, but they don’t always do that
                                                          iii.      He also expects them to understand that God’s priorities and methods take precedence over human priorities and methods, but they don’t always get that either, in particular when it comes to Jesus’ Mission to suffer and die and rise from the dead
                                                          iv.      But what the disciples do understand that is at the core of being a true disciple is that Jesus is the Messiah
e.       Rebuke/reprimand
                                                              i.      This is a key word/idea in vv.27-33, where Jesus first reprimands/commands His disciples not to talk about Him as the Messiah.
                                                            ii.      Then Peter reprimands Jesus for saying He is going to suffer and die and rise
                                                          iii.      Then Jesus reprimands Peter for reprimanding Him
f.       Healing
                                                              i.      Jesus is clearly a healer and as He heals the blind man, He reinforces the truth that He is Lord over the human body, Lord over blindness
g.      Feeding
                                                              i.      Jesus again cares firstly about their souls, since it would appear that He spent 3 days teaching and probably healing and exorcising before feeding their bodies
                                                            ii.      When disciples misunderstand one of the implications of Jesus’ feeding the 5000 and 4000 people crowds, Jesus point is that He can feed people whenever He wants, He doesn’t need more than enough bread
h.      Compassion
                                                              i.      Jesus’ again reveals His compassion by explicitly saying that He felt for the crowd and that it was for that reason that He wanted to feed them
i.        Life
                                                              i.      This theme appears in both the negative (death, loss of life) and the positive (resurrection, gaining of life)
                                                            ii.      For the negative, it starts with Jesus prophesying His suffering, mock trial, and death, but it continues in His explanation that following Him means death and losing one’s life, and that gain means little if you lose your life
                                                          iii.      In the positive, Jesus promises His resurrection, He promises life to those willing to die for Him, and later Jesus promises no death will come to some before they see the Kingdom of God
j.        Rejection
                                                              i.      The Pharisees reject Jesus by asking for a sign
                                                            ii.      The disciples reject Jesus’ mission of suffering, death, and resurrection
                                                          iii.      And Jesus warns of rejecting Him in society by being ashamed, which comes with the threat of Jesus later rejecting those who rejected him in shame
k.      Following
                                                              i.      Jesus explains that following Him means following His lead, following His pattern of life, and following Him to the end, despite the costs
3.      Doctrines
a.       Jesus is the Messiah
b.      Jesus is Lord over food, feeding, hunger
c.       Jesus is Lord over His Ministry/Mission
d.      Jesus is Lord over His Followers
e.       Jesus is Lord over the Crowd
f.       Jesus is Lord over Blindness
4.      Notes
a.       Jesus’ first prediction of His suffering, death, and resurrection is in 8.31-33
b.      Jesus’ promise that some wouldn’t die till they saw the kingdom of heaven in 9.1 probably refers to what will happen right after that in ch.9, specifically the Transfiguration
c.       The 4000 are probably gentiles
d.      Jesus predicts that He will come back from Heaven one day, He is Yahweh
1.      Jesus really can provide all of our needs!
2.      Jesus really can do the impossible!
3.      We dare not have a “prove it” attitude with Jesus!
4.      One of the biggest dangers we face is missing the whole point of these stories that we are reading, of missing the implications of the stories. Of course, this means that we will have to be thinking about these stories and rereading these stories and having these stories actually mean something to us!
a.       One of the reasons I’m not going to just tell you this is the only way this applies to your life or my life is because the significance of the story is more than even a hundred sermons could explain
b.      It is so easy to be spiritually blind, while physically fine; But Jesus can and will open the spiritual eyes of those He chooses to be His true followers
5.      The application of course is to trust that the Lord of All is Lord of all and knows what He is doing! But moreover, the point is to follow Jesus, the point is to die, the point is to not be ashamed in our schools, in our families, in our communities, in our areas, in our stores, in our group of friends, in our coffee shops and workplaces, on our trains, planes, and sidewalks. Are we willing to be shamed? Are we willing to die? Jesus is not saying it will be easy, He is saying it will cost you, but He is also saying that following Him boldly and selflessly will one day pay off big time!
6.      One of the reasons Jesus gets so upset with Peter is that 1) Peter is trying to Jesus what His Mission from God is, 2) Jesus knows that if Peter doesn’t get His mission, He won’t get Him; and 3) Jesus knows that if we don’t get Jesus’ mission, then we won’t get our mission from Him following Him!
7.      Jesus is calling us to let God’s things control our thinking and not human things!

8.      Following Jesus really is like walking behind Him on the road, we have to go where He goes, do what He does, lose what He lost, if we want to gain what cannot be lost, Jesus’ Himself. The end of our journey with Jesus is Jesus, our long road ahead of us full of death and self-denial ends with us entering into a big hug from Jesus and into the rewards He has for us with Him, His Kingdom of God! 

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