The Way - Day 099 (Mark 8)

Daily Reading:
Mark 8
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read vv.32-38 again in full context.  Look at the language to Peter, to all.  How does Jesus look up those who do not deny themselves?  What about those who are ashamed of Him?  How might this change your perception of yourself in God's eye?  What are some changes you are being led to make?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 33:4-5
OPTION 2: Proverbs 14:34
OPTION 3: Matthew 5:40-42
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Mark 8 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Mark 8:1-21
In Mark 6:32-44 we read about Jesus' feeding of the 5,000 men (probably 20,000 people total) and how He took five loaves and two small fish and miraculously provided food for all. Again, we find Jesus in the same predicament but now He is speaking to a crowd of approximately 15,000 people (4,000 men) who have been without food for three days (8:2). Jesus calls His disciples to Him and kind of hints at the dilemma. They were present when Jesus had fed the other multitude, so you might think one of them would speak up and declare that Jesus can perform another miracle. Instead, they answer Jesus by asking, "How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?" They still didn't get that Jesus was God and He could do anything. This time Jesus grabs seven loaves of bread and a couple fish and asks the people to be seated. "He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set then before the they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments" (8:6-8). Not only did Jesus provide food for the multitude, but He also had some left over. He could do the impossible!

Jesus and the disciples then go by boat to the region of Dalmanutha where Jesus encounters the negativity of the Pharisees. They wanted Him to do bigger miracles to prove He was truly sent from God, but Jesus would not meet their demands (8:11-12). Ultimately, His resurrection would be the greatest miracle, but they still would not believe. So, Jesus and His disciples hop into the boat again and go toward the region of Bethsaida. On their way, the disciples discovered that they were almost out of bread. Jesus took this opportunity to teach them about the false teaching and hypocritical nature of the Pharisees, but the disciples thought He was getting on their case about their lack of bread (8:14-16). Then Jesus decides to confront them about the unbelief which was not only in the Pharisees, but also in their own hearts. He reminds them about His feeding of the five thousand and the fact that there were twelve baskets of fragments left over (8:19). Next, Jesus points out the miracle He had just performed in feeding the four thousand and the seven extra baskets of food remaining (8:20). Jesus reacts by asking them a pointed question, "How is it you do not understand?" The disciples had hardened hearts and failed to believe that Jesus could provide for their every need. They had personally observed the miraculous, but did not personally believe He could do the same for them.

You and I worship the same God of the disciples and we must see His ability to provide for us. When times of trouble come, we must trust that He can evidence His control over the situation. Our God can do what seems impossible to us!

Mark 8:22-33
Following Jesus' feeding of the four thousand (8:1-10) and His candid conversation with the disciples (8:14-21), Jesus comes to Bethsaida where Mark recounts the healing of a blind man (8:22-26). They leave Bethsaida and journey toward Caesarea Philippi. On their way, Jesus asks His disciples a profound question, "Who do men say that I am?" Of course, the answer to this question is something all of us must answer, but at the heart of this question was whether or not people thought Jesus was the One truly sent from God to deliver the people. Although most Jews pictured a political and military deliverer, Jesus was neither of those. Instead, His ultimate mission was to suffer death for the sins of all men and deliver them from eternal separation from God. Back to the disciples' answer to the question, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets" (8:28). Then, Jesus makes this question personal and asks, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter is quick to speak up by answering, "You are the Christ" (8:29). This statement was their confession of belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the chosen One of God. Jesus "began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again" (8:31). Peter did not like the fact that Jesus was saying that He was going to die, but Jesus rebukes him and explains that He is doing the will of God the Father (8:32-33). It truly was difficult for the disciples to understand God's plan and that Jesus must suffer death. They could not fathom being without Him; however, they also failed to acknowledge Jesus' promise to come back from the grave three days after His death. We have the fortunate opportunity to look back and see all of the pieces, but the disciples were hearing this for the first time. The disciples had a great love for Jesus and did not want to lose Him. They were just confused.

This account of Mark should encourage us to evaluate our hearts in regards to the identity of Jesus. Is He the Son of God or is He just another prophet sent from God? Ultimately your answer to that question will determine the foundation of your life. If Jesus is the Messiah, you must by faith repent of sin and turn your life over to Him? If you do not believe Jesus was the chosen One of God, you are rejecting His claims and placing your trust in your own system of beliefs. Which will it be?

Mark 8:34-38
Matthew and Luke also record this particular saying of Jesus, so we must view it as something which was a very common thread in His ministry. Here Jesus calls the people to Himself and begins teaching them what it means to truly follow Him. Jesus says, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (8:34). In His statement here, Jesus is asking two things from those who want to walk in His ways: denial of self and submission to God's will. When Jesus says that a person must "deny himself," He is commanding that a person rid themselves of self-centeredness and all efforts that cause their life to revolve around their own passions. He is not stripping people of their personality and possessions, but rather a selfish heart which makes every decision based on personal gain. Jesus also commands that a person "take up his cross." This phrase would evoke vivid images in the heart of Jews living under Roman rule. Carrying one's cross "brought to mind the sight of a condemned man who was forced to demonstrate his submission to Rome by carrying part of his cross through the city to his place of execution. Thus...was to demonstrate publicly one's submission/obedience to the authority against which he had previously rebelled" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, p. 141) In essence, Jesus was seeking the surrender of self to the authority of God. Instead of pursuing their own plans, they would now follow the commands of God and build their life around His ways.

Jesus continues His teaching saying, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (8:35-36) The person who pursues his own interests will ultimately lose his soul and all the world's money will not be able to buy his soul from eternal destruction. However, the one who chooses to lose his life for the pursuit of Christ and the gospel will be saved (eternal reward). Which will you choose?

Dear God, I desire to pursue Your ways over my ways. Give me a passion to be filled with obedience and love for You.