Mark 8:22-33 – Sermon Manuscript

-Have you ever accidentally run into someone famous, but you weren’t sure it was them? Airport, coffee shop, dropping your kid of at preschool.

-A few months ago, I was tasked with bringing Calvin to his preschool. Bunch of moms and me waiting in line to check our kids in. 

-Didn’t recognize someone, but thought I had seen him before

-Disciples are finally at the point today where they say Jesus’ nametag, as it were. They recognize who He is, but not completely.

READ/PRAY (pg. 492)

-Everything in this Gospel has been building up to this week’s text!

  1. Seeing But Not Seeing (22-26)

-Bethsaida – moving North from where we were last week. Last week, most likely somewhere near Magdala. As they were sailing they had the conversation about leaven, so then they apparently were aiming for Bethsaida on the northernmost side of the lake. Remember: most of Jesus ministry so far has been focused on the Galilean territory. He’s done some traveling to other areas nearby, but He’s about to shift His focus.

-In Luke’s account of this story, he states that after many of the events we just read about, Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)

-All the Gospel’s can be summarized as “extended passion narratives” They all spend a significant amount of time on the last week of Jesus’ life, everything else just serves to demonstrate who Jesus is.

-Once again, people find Him, can’t get away. Seems the only time He gets with His disciples is when He’s in the boat! 

-Makes sense: His fame is spreading, we’ve already read a story of Herod (ruler of Galilee) hearing about Jesus and wanting to meet Him, the news has been traveling about what to expect from Jesus: healings! 

-If any of you have watched The Chosen, there’s 1 episode from season 2 that stood out to me, titled “Matthew 4:24” which says “24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.” Think about what the significance of that would be! And this is describing the beginning of Jesus’ ministry! It says people brought ALL the sick! It was a fascinating look at what a day of ministry in the life of Jesus would look like. The disciples took shifts managing the line, helping people stay organized, and Jesus got no breaks. He came into camp at the end of the day and collapsed into His tent. No downtime, no breaks, just continually serving those in need. No wonder we have a story of Jesus falling asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm!

-Just as Jesus has healed many people, as His fame and notoriety has continued to spread, the people Bethsaida knew exactly what they needed to do. 

-“Some people” can reasonably guess that this is describing the blind man’s friends. The friends begged Jesus to touch this blind man. Generally it’s the person with the issue who approaches Jesus begging, but in this case the blind man has friends. (The importance of having and being a friend)

-Why touching? Just a couple weeks ago we read a story of a Gentile woman who was healed by Jesus merely speaking. Touching is generally viewed as the way healings happen! It takes a lot more faith to believe God can heal by speaking (as Jesus has demonstrated He can do!) 

-Jesus brings the man out of the village by themselves (most likely with his friends and the disciples still watching)

-Why the secrecy? Yet another issue that has come up repeatedly in this book so far! 2 weeks ago we studied the healing of a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and just as read about here, that man was taken away privately. Don’t forget: the healings aren’t the primary ministry! Teaching is! The healings merely serve as demonstrations that what Jesus is saying is true, the kingdom of God is at hand and everything that has been broken is starting to be fixed again.

-It’s also a reminder that Jesus saves people individually. This fits in really well with our common ideas and perspectives as 21st cent. Americans: every single one of us needs to be saved! We can’t rely on the faith of our parents, can’t rely on the faith of our neighbor, can’t rely on the faith of our spouse! Every single one of us needs to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world in order to be saved. What’s amazing about that is as soon as we believe in Jesus, we’re brought into a family called the Church! (which is what 21st cent. Americans don’t like at admit) Before that we’re alone, living in isolation, separated from God and others, but as soon as you believe in Jesus that all changes. Think of the way Peter (same Peter who we read about today) describes us in a later letter: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that together we can proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light! Jesus looks for and reaches out to have relationship with individuals, but then through His work on the cross He brings them into His family. Praise God for salvation!

-Jesus’ method of healing seems odd, and it’s the second time we’ve seen it, Jesus also used spit in his healing of the deaf & speech impediment man. Believe it or not, this was a common healing practice in the 1stcent. 

-Pliny the Elder (published Natural History in 77 AD) where he extolled the virtues of spitting! They would spit on someone suffering from epilepsy, spit to ward off bad luck, spit in their right shoe before putting it on for good luck. Who knew the healing virtues of saliva? Jesus is demonstrating that healing will be coming, because it wasn’t just spitting taking place, it also says Jesus laid His hands on the man.

-First time Jesus asked if he was healed, couldn’t be for uncertainty since He knows everything. Why do you think He asked?

-We’ve seen throughout the healing accounts that healing is connected to faith, do you think maybe Jesus is inviting the man to acknowledge Jesus’ provision in His life? 

-At first glance, it seems like a healing didn’t work.

-He can see, but not clearly. Spider-Man 1 (OG Toby Maguire) glasses to non glasses

-He can see, but He can’t really see. He can see shapes and figures nearby him, which could be because this man was once able to see, so he knows what trees are, or it could just be that people have described trees to him and he’d felt them, regardless, things aren’t quite in focus. He’s starting to be able to see, but not completely. Things are blurry and out of focus.

-Jesus touches him a second time, then Mark bends over backwards to communicate the healing: opened, restored, clearly.

-Notice that Jesus doesn’t spit this time – it’s all Jesus! Spit just served to signify what Jesus was going to do, it wasn’t the cure, it wasn’t needed, because Jesus is enough.

-Is this descriptive of real life? You’ll have to ask Dr. Keith Carlson about the validity of this, but I’ve read stories of those who have had surgery whose eyes take a while to be able to recover or focus. This time it took no time! Hate to break it to Keith, but Jesus is even better with eyes than you are! 

-We’re so close to Jesus revealing himself, but it’s still not time for His identity to be revealed. This man is encouraged to go home, don’t go to the village, don’t spread the word, live your life.

-One of the things I mentioned a number of weeks ago when I preached on Mark 5 was the idea that miracles are meant to serve as living parables: living examples of something more significant

-Example to the disciples of their lack of being able to focus. They can see, but they can’t really see. If you’ve ever seen someone start squinting to try to see what they’re staring at that’s what the disciples are like. Jesus is right in front of them, they see the miracles, they’ve watched the healings, they’ve heard the teaching, a shape is starting to form in their minds, but it hasn’t fully developed yet.

-Timely, because this is exactly what happens to the disciples in the next section!

  • Knowing But Not Knowing (27-30)

-Moved about 20 miles north to the villages/area of Caesarea Philippi. On the way made small talk: what’s the latest news about me? What are you hearing?

-This is the theme of the book: remember how it begins: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” No question in Marks’ mind about who Jesus is! Then there’s the recognition of the Father after Jesus’ baptism in 11, and a plethora of demons who know exactly who He is. Even after calming a storming sea, the disciples ask “Who is this, that the wind and sea obey him!” They’ve been dancing around this idea for a while now, and they’ve heard what others have said!

-John the Baptist. Same as Herod thought! Can’t keep a good man down! The prophet has come back from the dead to begin judging others.

-Elijah. Prophecy from Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Elijah by the 1st cent. Became associated with God’s final judgment. If Jesus is Elijah coming back, it means the end of time has come!

-And others wouldn’t put Jesus quite as high as Elijah, He’s just one of the prophets. God is speaking once again (after centuries of waiting), and it’s true that Jesus spoke on behalf of God, but He’s far more than JUST a prophet.

-None of these are even close! It’s also surprising that no one anticipates that Jesus is the Messiah! Peter is intentionally supposed to be the first one to recognize this reality.

-That’s all well and good, but what do YOU think? They’ve been following, living, sleeping, eating with Him but do they know who He is?

-Peter speaks on behalf of the whole group: The Christ – Messiah, The Anointed One. Someone who has been set apart for service of God. Remember, Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name: it’s a title!

-1st cent. Expectations of the Messiah who would come, summarized well by a pseudepigraphal (not written by him) 1st cent. BC book called the Psalms of Solomon. This was what everyone expected the Messiah to look like! A political savior who would overthrow the terrible Romans and place Israel back in her place of prominence on the global stage! After all, they were God’s chosen people! But that wasn’t God’s plan. 

-Peter passed this test with flying colors! Way to go Peter! But if you start to think He’s got everything figured out, let’s just keep going:

  • Hearing But Not Hearing (31-33)

-Now that they have confessed who Jesus really is, Jesus needs to teach them what that means. Right now they’re seeing, but they can’t really see it, so they need to listen to what Jesus teaches. But what does He teach?

-Son of Man: what is that title? Jesus’ favorite description of Himself, fulfills a prophecy from Dan. 7:25-27. At this point, they’re sure they’ve got it right! If Jesus is the Son of Man, look at what his kingdom will look like! 

-But that’s not what Jesus says, He says He MUST: suffer, be rejected, killed, rise again. That doesn’t fit into all the ideas the disciples have about the Messiah!

-Plainly: no parable, no allegory, no story, just explicitly stating what needed to happen. This REALLY isn’t fitting in with what God’s Messiah is SUPPOSED to look like!

-Peter, who passed his first test, decides he’s tired of being on the honor role, and decides to rebuke Jesus.

-First of all, REALLY bad idea to rebuke Jesus. Once again, speaking on behalf of all the disciples. 

-I know we have a tendency to laugh at Peter, but what if Peter thinks Jesus is questioning His calling? All of us have gone through seasons questioning what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives! Maybe Peter’s trying to give him a pep talk: “Come on man, you can do it! You know that’s not what it means to be the Messiah. We totally believe in you! Nothing can get in our way! Let’s take over the world!” Unfortunately for Peter, that’s EXACTLY what it means.

-Jesus needs to correct all the disciples’ misconceptions about what the Messiah is supposed to be like.

-The disciples had sacrificed everything to be with Jesus. Given up their jobs, their families, Peter left his wife, all to become apprentices to Jesus, their hopeful Messiah. They’d studied the Torah, they’d been taught by the Rabbis, they knew what the Messiah would look like, or did they? 

-From Expositors Commentary: “Jesus cannot be pressed…into a 

predetermined spiritual box.” Pictures of cats fitting in weird places, Jesus starts by doing that, but then breaks the box. Our human minds can’t contain what Jesus is supposed to be! If Jesus ONLY came to free the nation of Israel, that wouldn’t be enough to deal with all the broken relationships from the fall (God, self, others, rest of creation). Jesus needed to deal with sin, which is WAY harder to take care of! An insurrection wouldn’t have dealt with enough, a political savior is far too small.

-Just like the blind man in the previous story, the disciples saw who Jesus was, but they didn’t really see. They viewed Jesus purely from a human lens instead of seeing what it would take to begin a true and lasting insurrection in the spiritual realm. The shapes were in place, they were starting to make some connections, but to say Jesus just came to bring political change is like calling people walking trees!

-Jesus rebukes all the disciples (Peter just saying what everyone else was thinking). Where Peter thinks Jesus is being tempted by Satan, Peter is the one speaking on behalf of Satan. 

-What does it mean to set your mind on the things of man?

-Power, recognition, prestige.

-Connects to story from This American Life of the Jews who saw God as a bigger dad  

-Calvin: “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” Peter, and the disciples, followed Jesus as a way to get their human needs met, but Jesus came to fill their spiritual needs, and only when our spiritual needs are met can we have hope of getting our spiritual needs met. In order to truly know ourselves, we need to know the God who created us, who sustains us, and who continues upholding all of creation with His mighty hand. 

-Who do you say that Jesus is?

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