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Bible Commentaries
Mark 8

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-18

31-37 Compare Mat_15:29-31 .

32 The meeting with the Greek woman of Syro-Phoenicia suggests a phase of kingdom service for which Israel, in our Lord's day, was utterly incapable. In Jehovah's day the Lord's word will go forth from Jerusalem. The evangel will be proclaimed in every corner of the earth. The knowledge of Jehovah will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. It will be the greatest missionary program the earth has ever seen, and the first to be fully successful. But the nation of Israel in our Lord's day was no more fitted to proclaim the evangel than a deaf-mute. They did not hear Him themselves, and they would not proclaim His message because they could not hear. This is the setting which suggests itself when they bring the Lord a deaf-mute, and He heals him. The peculiar method of healing has remained quite a mystery to theologians, who are at a loss why He should not heal him with a word, instead of putting His fingers in his ears and touching his tongue. Some have suggested that saliva is a healing agent! But the saliva was not put on his tongue. Little significance can be gathered from His actions unless we interpret their symbolism along rational lines. There are three elements in their preparation for the millennial ministry: His works, His words, His sufferings. His works will force themselves on their attention. This is signified by His thrusting His fingers in the deaf man's ears. His words are signified by the saliva which came out of His mouth, and, accompanied by the touching of his tongue, enable them to talk. He will put His words in their mouths. His groans are the signs of His sufferings. Through them Israel will be saved. And the unrestrainable proclamation was but a small rehearsal of that glorious day when the glad tidings will be heard in every land. The Jews are the great missionary nation. They are now being schooled in the great university of experience for the future evangelization of the world. They are inured to every climate, familiar with every language, at home in every country. Sustained by the authority of the King of kings, they will carry out the first successful world missionary movement.

1-3 Compare Mat_15:32-34 .

1 Why were there two different occasions on which our Lord fed a great company of people? Why five cakes in one instance and seven in the other? Great as is the miracle performed on these two occasions, we are not satisfied until we can read the sign. What did it signify?

Man shall not live on bread only, but on every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. The written and the living Word are the true bread of God. The living Word cannot be divided. But the written word is composed of separate books. These may well be represented by the cakes given to the multitude. These signs are in the wilderness, hence cannot be in the kingdom, but give us His provision for His people before the kingdom comes. The kingdom testimony is divided into two distinct periods, one, in the first century, which is past, and one, still to come, at the end of the eon, which is future. The first sign, where there were five cakes, brings before us the past means of subsistence, of the kingdom saints, the first three "gospels", Acts and Hebrews. (John is intended for the kingdom itself.) It was this spiritual food that sufficed for so many, and left such an abundant surplus. May we not distribute these scraps to the nations, according to the previous sign? Nothing is said of what was done with them, but we know that the nations came in for some blessing, as recorded in the book of Acts. God has made provision for the future wilderness needs of His kingdom people by means of seven epistles, corresponding to the seven cakes in the second sign. These are James, first and second Peter, first, second and third John, and Jude. Though the scraps are not so abundant, we know that there will be some among the nations who will find some crumbs even at that time.

6-10 Compare Mat_15:35-39 .

11-21 Compare Mat_16:1-12 . See Luk_12:1-3 .

12 After giving them this marvelous sign they ask for a sign! His exclamation shows how hopeless He thought them. Suppose He should ? They would not recognize it. It is useless to speak to the deaf or put a picture before the eyes of the blind.

Verses 19-38

19-20 See Mar_6:41-44 ; Mar_8:7-9 .]

19 The comparison here suggested by our Lord is most striking and important. He is seeking to show them that God's blessing comes in inverse ratio to human provision. This is the highest mathematics, and quite beyond the powers of the unspiritual mind. If reasoning could devise a way to satisfy five thousand with five cakes and leave a remainder, then the remainder would be smaller than seven divided among only four thousand. But the opposite is true. Every word used, when carefully translated, emphasizes the great truth that the less of man's work in God's operations the greater the work and the larger the excess. The following list of words will help to fix this on our minds and in our hearts: five cakes seven cakes five thousand four thousand twelve panniers seven hampers packed ( Joh_6:13 ) filled

Let us not be like the apostles who failed to figure out the formula for these equations, and could not apply it in their own experience.

22 Many explanations have been offered for this most peculiar method of healing, all of which seem to be no clearer than the sight of the blind man at first. It is questionable whether any explanation can or ought to be offered on natural grounds. The Lord could have healed him completely in an instant, but He did not choose to do so. It is evidently another sign, and we will find its meaning in the restoration of Israel's spiritual sight. The cure was accomplished by that which proceeded out of His mouth-the word of God. As was so often the case there was an interval. At first the blind man's sight was blurred. Later he saw clearly. So it was with Israel. In the past they saw that there would be a gradual growth, like a tree, until the kingdom. But it will take another application of His hands in the future to restore them. Then they will no longer be puzzled by the course of events. Throughout the past proclamation of the kingdom, especially in the Pentecostal era, the prospect of the kingdom was vague. It will not be so at the time of the end.

27-31 Compare Mat_16:13-21 ; Luk_9:18-22 .

29 Here we find the first sharp distinction between the unbelieving nation and the little band of believers, represented by Peter. This marks the great crisis in His ministry. Henceforth He is no longer concerned with proclaiming the kingdom to the nation, but is teaching His own disciples concerning His sufferings. In fact, He warns them not to tell that He is the Christ. The nation has rejected Him and His proclamation. The kingdom that drew near is now receding. The result of His labors lies in the confession of a few, of whom Peter is the type, who recognize Him as the Messiah, and as the Son of God. Now He begins His new ministry, and, strange to say, His message is immediately opposed by Peter. Notwithstanding all that He taught them concerning His sufferings in the period now begun, it was not till after they were over that the apostles received and believed His words. They wished to persist in proclaiming the kingdom. A similar condition exists today. The kingdom was once more proclaimed during the period covered by the book of Acts, and once more rejected. Still some persist, like Peter, in keeping up its proclamation.

32-33 Compare Mat_16:22-23 .

33 The term "satan", here applied to Peter, is Hebrew for adversary . It is a common noun except when used of him who is otherwise called the Serpent and Slanderer.

34-38 Compare Mat_16:24-27 ; Luk_9:23-26 .

34 Not only does the Lord now look forward to sufferings for Himself, but His followers also must taste of His cup. While proclaiming the kingdom, they anticipated wearing a crown. Now they must renounce all of self and bear a cross.

35 Soul never means life . Life depends on spirit. Soul is the conscious sensation resulting from the union of the body with the spirit. He who wants to save his soul, will seek his own pleasure and comfort and shrink from self denial and cross-bearing. In the kingdom there will be every delight the soul can crave. Hence the disciple that does not suffer for His sake and so loses his place in the kingdom, saves his soul for the time, but loses it in the kingdom. Anyone who should gain the whole world, yet not be able to enjoy it, loses his soul.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 8". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/mark-8.html. 1968.
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