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Bible Commentaries

Derickson's Notes on Selected Books

Mark 8

Verses 1-9

MARK CHAPTER EIGHT

8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Okay now those of you that chomp at the bit when the preacher goes five minutes over time to quit, take special note. These folks listened for three days! Even at the Bible conferences they used to have they would let you go eat from time to time. Well McDonald’s was not quite prolific back then as they are now.

The people had listened to the Lord for three days. We might assume that they took sleep breaks but how many of us would listen that long without a meal? Really, is there anything interesting enough to keep our attention that long without food? We have a hard time giving three hours to the Lord during a week much less three days. I’m sure it would make a difference if it was Christ Himself speaking, but rather suspect we would complain bitterly if he went past latte time.

This account is different than the feeding that we have already seen in Mark. There is a chart that will show this quite clearly.

Mark 6:41 ffMark 8:1 ff
Had come from "His own country (6.1) Southern coast of Sea of Galilee (7.31)
5 loaves - 2 fishes 7 loaves - few small fishes
12 baskets left over bread/fish7 baskets of meat
5000 ate4000 ate
Into a ship for BethsaidaInto a ship for "parts of Dalmanutha"

There is one item of interest. In 8.19 and 20 Jesus used two different terms for basket. The baskets in the first miracle relates to a wicker basket. We are not told the size. The baskets in the second miracle are reed baskets and may have been somewhat smaller since they can relate to a lunch basket. There does not seem to be any real significance other than maybe volume. Christ was probably just speaking of the baskets used rather than meaning some general term.

Bethsaida is on the northeast coast of the Sea of Galilee while Dalmanutha is of uncertain location but most believe it to be on the west coast of the Sea of Galilee in the area of Tiberias. It is also called "Magadan" according to Robertson (Matthew 15:39) In fact Magadon is on somemaps just to the north of Tiberias.

Just a note about the term translated "fasting" might be appropriate. It is not the term that relates to fasting for religious reasons. It is simply a term that relates to going without eating. This is the only time the word is used in the New Testament that I found.

Again we see that the Lord looked upon the people with compassion. He could have been disgusted with them for not bringing their ice chest filled with food,, or their McDonald’s coupons so that they could go get something to eat. He felt pity for them and their situation and wanted to relieve their problem.

I may have mentioned this account before, but bear with me. We had a missionary family for a Sunday’s services. They got up early and drove several hundred miles to make Sunday school. The couple was involved in all services that day so their time with their children was limited.

Having been on deputation for several years I knew some of the rigors of that life and sensed that this family was terribly limited on funds. I also knew that our church always gave their gifts to missionaries by check.

There had been no time for supper so I also knew the kids were going to be hungry ad sensed that there would be no food for the trim home. I went to the grocery store next door and picked up a bunch of snackies and sandwich materials with some pop. I handed the missionary the bags as he climbed into the van and I could see the kids eyes light up with excitement.

I am not saying I had the compassion of Christ but all of us should have compassion and we should be tuned into situations where we might be able to respond to that compassion by filling the needs of others.

How can we be true believers without showing compassion to those around us, whether Christian or lost? We should be ready to assist at any moment and at every opportunity.

Verse six mentions that the Lord prayed or gave thanks before feeding the people. This is our pattern for our own homes. We ought to give thanks for the food that the Lord has provided. We should take this small item from the Lord for a pattern for our homes and be sure to share with your family now and then just why you do it. He is our example and it is our place to follow Him.

Of interest might be the fact that Christ gave the food to the disciples to serve the crowd. He could just as easily given it to twelve from the crowd to distribute, but He chose to have the disciples to serve. Possibly another step in their training one might well assume. Certainly to be used of God one must be able to serve. Many miss this point and feel they should be able to minister to the church rather than serve - the two are one.

The service of the Lord is not only an honor but our duty to Him that has done so much for us. To serve is to do that which the bond slave is to do - the desire of the master.Recently someone on a forum asked pastors what days they took off and one of the replies was that he took Tuesday off because he was not the type of man he would thrust upon his wife for a day. The clear implication was that Sunday put him into a mood other than feeling right and proper.

Christ said that He would build His church and we know that He is the Master thus why would the servant take on the pressure of responsibility for what takes place on Sunday morning? He is not the Master, he is not the boss, he is the servant of almighty God and God is the one that is responsible for how Sunday goes or does not go.

Too many men take upon themselves too much when they consider their ministry. If there is growth it is of the Lord, if there is loss it is of the Lord, it is up to the servant to minister to the people whether many or few. The responsibility of the servant is to show up and do as good a job as possible, and it is up to the master to bless that work according to His desires and plans in the lives of the people.

Verses 10-12

8:10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.

It is recorded that the Pharisees came questioning Him, but Mark records that there was temptation for the Lord. They sought a sign, He could have called lightening from the sky to singe their whiskers, but He refrained from doing so and simply sighed and responded that there would be no sign for them.

It is not clear what sort of a sign the men wanted. They had heard of His miracles and most likely had witnessed some of them personally yet they wanted more evidence of who He was. The Lord’s reaction would indicate that they had all the information that they needed to know who He was. He was not shy about doing miracles to those that needed further information about His being, so not giving the sign would indicate that He knew they had all the information that they needed to make their decision about Him.

The fact that He told them He would give them no sign further enhances this line of thought. He did further miracles in His ministry, just not for this generation of Pharisees.

The term translated "sign" is used of something that distinguishes one from others, it is a token or a sign that they are who they say they are. The Pharisees were looking for a political Messiah thus they probably were not interested in miracles or claims of being God, but most likely wanted some sign that He was the political Messiah that they were waiting for. They wanted some indication that He was not one of the many "wanna bes" that most likely were around the countryside.

On the other hand they wanted a "sign from heaven" which would indicate something on thespectacular side. I’m not sure how much more spectacular than walking on water, multiplying food, healing the sick, controlling demonic activity etc. you can get but they wanted it.

Not unlike many human beings that keep wanting more and more indication of God’s existence and power. It boils down to the questioning of God and His revelation to the person. Man today has the Word of God that they can read, they have the testimony of many martyrs through the last 2000 years as well as the testimony of millions of believers that have walked with them. Yet they want more from God to convince them that He is real and that He truly exists.

Many years ago my wife and I met a young intellectual type that questioned everything. His idea of eternity was that as you go out into space and go fast enough time will slow down. This was the crux of one of Einstein’s theories. Eternity then was the fact that if you went fast enough you could stop and turn around and see yourself coming. Now, I would never trust my after life to such thinking but he did.

As we talked about spiritual things he would ask a question and we would show him Scripture. He would argue, we would show him Scripture. He realized that what the Word was telling him was the truth yet he just kept plowing forward with his skepticism and would not stop. After a couple of hours he buried his head in his hands, let out a huge sign and said "You have me totally confused." I told him it was not the wife and me, but the Lord and His Word.

The response to our time together was him asking me to read and comment on one of his philosophical books. He saw the power of God that evening and still wanted some further sign before he would admit his need of something outside of himself. He never accepted the Lord that we know of, but I am sure if he is still lost the Lord will have some questions for him one day.

Also of interest is the fact that the Pharisees seemed to know that the sign should come from heaven. Or more to the point maybe they were challenging the Lord about His claim to be God. There might have been some sarcasm in their request.

Robertson observed, and most likely very correctly, that the Pharisees may have been taking jabs at the Lord when requesting a sign from heaven. They may have been intimating that His miracles were due to natural causes rather than divine or maybe even that they were by the power of the Devil as He was accused of elsewhere in the New Testament.

The Pharisees were not and would not be satisfied with the signs already done, and Christ told them even further that there would be no further sign. Why continue to give signs if they are just going to reject the information and want more.

Just a thought to dwell on about the God that you serve. God loves all His creation, but will not allow man to reject Him forever - the Scripture mentions that He hardens their hearts after a certain time of rejection.

Recall that Christ has shown compassion a couple of times in this book. This same person thathad compassion is the one that was required by His character and nature to tell these men that were loved that there would be no sign for them.

Yes, God loves His creatures, yes, God has compassion, but He also is just and must act justly and righteously. Might there be another attribute of God mixed in there amongst the love and justice, between the compassion and righteousness. Not that the items can be mixed but there might be some attribute of frustration with His creatures, or attribute of sorrow over the loss of the respect/love from His creations?

Mark records that "he sighed deeply" indicating that in His human side at the very least there was angst over the situation and in my opinion that angst may well have been the response of the divine as well.

Christ via the Holy Spirit basically announced judgment upon these men and their inability to accept Him for what He was. He pronounced their ultimate eternal punishment at that point though it was not spoken of in those terms.

Some might wonder at the idea that "this generation" will have no sign. What does the term "generation" refer to, the entire generation? No, for we know some of them became disciples and followers, thus we must take it to mean something else. The most logical would be to take it to mean the lost of that generation, and indeed Matthew shows this to be a correct assumption. Matthew 16:4 "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas."

Christ spoke to the lost Christ rejecters of His own time. He also added that there would be the sign of Jonas - the coming death, burial and resurrection was to be the only further sign to that unrighteous group of people and we know from the Gospel record that they rejected that sign as well. Thus, Christ was correct in that there was no further sign for them at the time of His speaking to them.

Verses 13-18

13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

Verses 19-20

8:19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

Oh my what frustration there must have been for Christ, to have called these men, to have taught these men and demonstrated His power to these men and yet they have no idea of His power capabilities or being. They have seen him feed two crowds on two different occasions with verylittle food and they think He is talking about bread.

Even though they have no understanding or perception, He thought they sould at least have remembered what He had done in the previous two occasions of feeding thousands of people.

A word about perception and understanding might be appropriate. Understanding is having knowledge and grasping the meaning of that knowledge. Perception would relate to gaining that knowledge or perceiving it. You can perceive something but not understand it. You can see the complexities of life and perceive that knowledge, but not necessarily understand it.

This may be part of the problem with the demons and angels. They may see and perceive the facts of what is going on in the universe, but not understand it all. They may not understand the complexities of the human mind and experience.

This may also relate somewhat to lost people. They may read the Word, they may hear the Word and they may have proper perception, but not understand it.

Do believers truly understand all that they perceive? They also read and hear the Word, but often do not understand it to the point of changing their lives. Knowing facts does not make one a useful believer. If you do not understand what you have perceived you will not be following that which you have perceived.

Much of what is learned in churches today seems to be the perceived knowledge but little understanding of how it all relates to the Christian life. We were sinner, now we are redeemed. A simple truth perceived by all, but few understand that there is a change that is supposed to happen between the two. Many believers today remain lifestyle wise as they were before redemption.

This may be the reason the church seems to be just like the world - yes that is my perception AND understanding.

Now to the point of the Lord’s comment. 15 "And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod."

Thayer mentions of "leaven" "metaphorically of inveterate mental and moral corruption, viewed in its tendency to infect others." The Lord tells them that the Pharisees and King Herod are corrupt and that they are to be avoided lest they be corrupted.

How do you suppose that would settle with pastors today if someone started telling congregations that their leadership was corrupt. It hurts to say it but many of today’s leaders are corrupt. They are self-absorbed men/women that are seeking worldly blessing and riches not caring who they hurt nor what they do to gain their worldly riches and attention.

Many men are way more interested in the pay package offered than the ministry possibilities thatGod has set before them. Men are turning down churches because there is not enough money offered while others are jealous when their friends get a bigger and better pay package than they were able to dig up.

Is it too "spiritual" to ask God where He would have you serve? Is it too "spiritual" to allow God to supply the need that is lacking in the pay package - or more to the point, learn to live on less?

I know the rhetoric that is forthcoming from the preceding radical statements. It has all been said before in forums, Internet boards and board rooms - we are called to be responsible, we are responsible to provide for our families - we are called to serve God at His pleasure as bond slaves. Nowhere in the Scripture are we told that we are to be rich, to be famous, or to be some super preacher that commands a high price. We are called to servant hood - if God makes you all of those things then that is His business and you are responsible to be a good steward of what He has given you.

"Beware" has to do with seeing with the eye and discerning - open your eyes and be very careful of what you see. This is a warning that the church has not listened to in our day. They have been looking for their "thing" and jumping from church to church till they find what they like, not necessarily where God might want them to serve. Self-serving seems to be the mind-set of most in the church today.

Nausea is the result when I hear people telling me that they just are not being ministered to. If you are a mature believer you are to be ministering to, not being ministered to. God has gifted each one of us to minister to the body of Christ. He has not gifted a handful to minister to the congregation.

While on the subject the gifts of the Spirit are clearly listed in the New Testament and they do not include the gift of swing, nor the gift of sway, nor the gift of tape deck running, nor the gift of bounce, nor the gift of I will be the loudest, nor the gift of swoon, nor the gift of repeating of words - music is to make sense not put everyone in a trance. We are present to worship the LIVING God, not meditate ourselves into oblivion for fifty-five minutes a week.

Rant complete.

Verses 22-26

8:22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

And we have an illustration for the apostles. We spoke of a couple of items in the previous section - to perceive and understand. This blind man perceived when Christ first touched his eyes, but only after the second touch did he have proper understanding. Christ was almost sick in his humor when teaching His disciples.This was not a miracle gone bad, it was a two step process to show the disciples that there was perception and that there was understanding.

So what is the spitting in the eyes all about. Again in that day spit was thought to have medicinal value. We are not told by the commentaries just how this was thought to be true, only that it was the thought of the day. Whether this is related to the question or not we do not know. I suspect that it was as with the deaf and dumb man - something drawing his attention to what Christ was doing or about to do.

Christ again was on the secretive side taking the man away from the crowd and telling him to tell no one. As a semi Calvinist, I often wonder at some of the miracles. Were these individuals just a few that were not run of the mill people that God was bestowing His grace upon - people that had responded to revelation to the point that they needed further revelation to come to a full knowledge of God. I suspect this might be the case. No other explanation has come to mind for the numerous occurrences of individual grace and attention.

Bethsaida was on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Most of Christ’s travels can be mapped out and have been by many authors over the years. Normally his ministry on earth is broken up into the geographical areas where He worked. These divisions can be seen in the outlines presented and there are charts available on maps to show His movements if anyone is interested in seeing the many trips that are mentioned in the Gospels.

The term translated "spit" is simply spit. There is nothing unique about this word nor its meaning. It is used of spitting in the face in the Septuagint and John uses the same word when Christ spit on the ground and made clay to anoint another blind man’s eyes (John 9:6).

The fact that Christ did not want the man to tell anyone, not even to go to town so that others might notice that he could see, pictures just how quiet He wanted to keep his ministry at the time.

He most likely knew of the time of His betrayal and knew that if the Jews found opportunity that they would cause trouble for him. His crucifixion was to occur at a precise time in history and He did not want the Jews interfering in that correct and precise moment. One can only imagine the conflict going on in the spiritual plain. The Devil knowing his time was short, and God knowing that His plan would not be compromised.

The utter audacity and foolishness of the Devil has always caused me to wonder at his aspirations to usurp Almighty God his creator. How could a created being find it within himself to think that he could overturn the plans of his Creator? It does not make a lot of sense but then some of the things men do are on a plain of similar ignorance in my mind.

When a pastor begins to take over a church and set himself up as dictator instead of allowing Christ to be the Head. When a man begins setting himself up as dictator of his family instead of allowing Christ to be the Head. When a wife begins setting herself up as ruler of the house instead of her husband and Christ. Maybe we are not so different than the Devil in the arrogance audacity and foolishness department.8:27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Caesarea Philippi is north and a little east of the Sea of Galilee. Not a short walk across town. I would guess it to have been about a twenty mile trek from the looks of the maps. There are two towns named Caesarea, one of which is identified as Caesarea of Philippi. There are also small villages around that Caesarea, thus it is the general area around Caesarea Philippi that Christ was visiting. Gill mentions "...into the towns Caesarea Philippi; in the jurisdiction of Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis; for this Caesarea was rebuilt by him and called so in honour of Tiberius Caesar; and the towns and villages adjacent to it are here intended:"

Christ asked the apostles two questions. First he wondered at the publics perception of Him and then of the apostles perception.

"Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets."

Mark 6:14 was an account of Herod and his thinking about Christ. The two accounts are very similar and one might wonder if the apostles knew of Herod’s thinking or if it was just the common thinking of the people and they were tuned into how the people were reacting to the Lord. "And king Herod heard [of him]; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets."

The thinking of the people was that He was a spook. He was someone raised from the dead even though they did not know who He was. To be able to do these miracles He had to be from the spirit world.

This should give us some indication of the common man’s thoughts on the afterlife. There must have been a prevailing view that the dead continued on in existence and further that they could return to this life with miraculous powers.

One might wonder if this was the common mindset, if they did not wonder at the why of this spooks entrance into their time and space.

I might mention that this may be part of the feeling of some of the early church false doctrine which suggested that Christ was a spook and that he left no foot prints. The false doctrine is seen to be false in the teaching of Paul in his letter to the Colossians and his refutation of the Gnostics.

My thoughts off the top would be that if the disciples had followed Christ over so many dusty roads would not they have seen that He left no footprints and do you not think that one of themwould have mentioned this in one of their books? You would think so.

"But whom say ye that I am?" Oh this is the question that is important, not what the people say but what do you say. This is a personal question for you my select followers.

Oh how important this is for the reader as well. It is your answer to this question that will forever seal your position in either heaven or hell. It does not matter what you mother thought nor what your father thought, nor your boy/girl friend/spounse thought, it is what you do with Christ personally that will be the basis for your judgment. Only you can answer this question and only you will be held responsible for this question.

Is this the Christ, the Lamb of God that came to die for your sins or is He just another fake that was trying to make a buck. If the latter He failed miserably for He died with no fortune and He lived with none either.

"And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ." Peter’s declaration was right on the money though we do not know if he had bought that concept yet or not. "Christ" is the Greek word "christos" which means annointed one. Gill mentions "the Messiah that was long ago promised and so often prophesied of in the books of Moses and the prophets; and whom the Jews have so much and long expected." Matthew 16:16 adds "son of the living God." Why Mark dropped this full statement is not clear. To Matthew’s Jewish readers the full phrase would have had much more meaning that for Mark’s readers. The reader of Mark’s book would be simply interested in the Messiah, the one that would conquer all for His people.

"And he charged them that they should tell no man of him." Christ has been telling different people to keep quiet about Him for some time now, but here he charges the apostles to keep it mum. The word translated "charged" is a strong word relating to forbid or censure, He really did not want them to speak to others about Him.

Now, this is not a verse that we in this time should apply to ourselves. We are charged with taking the Gospel to the world, not to keep His saving grace quiet and secure within the walls of the church. We are to declare the Gospel! Yet, at this time in Christ’s life He needed the apostles to be quiet about Him.

Again, this likely relates to the need of time control. He knew that the time of the Passover was the time of his betrail and death, and He did not want that timing to be upset.

Verses 31-33

8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

Christ begins to inform the apostles of the coming doom and gloom. Peter rebukes Him for such talk but Christ knows the verbal rebuke comes from the Devil in that Peter has not grasped thatChrist is the Messiah, but that He is a suffering Messiah, not a political one. Peter, like the rest of the Jews, thought that Messiah was going to take care of all the ills of this life, and they did not grasp that He was here to deal with much graver problems than the world can offer. He was here to deal with the need of man for the perfect sacrifice to shed His blood for all believers of all times.

Christ mentioned that he must suffer rejection of the elders, chief priests and the scribes. The Jewish leadership in other words would totally reject Him and His work on the behalf of Israel.

Here we see his first mention of being raised in three days. There is much discussion as to what three days might mean. Some think it means only a few hours, others see it as three 24-hour days. There is a study on my web site if anyone would like to study this further. I hold to a three 24-hour period position.

He tells the apostles of his coming rejection, death, and resurrection. Now, that would have been heavy stuff for them to hear and evaluate. They saw Him as the political Messiah and He is telling them He will be rejected and that he will die, but then He just mentions that little part of the resurrection. Rejection they would have understood, and death they could have understood but being raised from the dead might have been difficult to digest.

The main discussion is whether Christ was speaking to Peter or looking past him to the Devil in his doubting. Some would hold that he spoke of Peter as being the Devil while others would suggest that Christ spoke to the Devil’s attempt to stop Him via his own apostle.

Peter, in essence, doubted Christ and His message by rejecting it and trying to stop Him from speaking of the subject. This is the one that had just given a strong declaration of who Christ was and now he is trying to quiet His comments about the coming days.

How often do church goers try to quiet their pastor and his telling of the truth? How often have pastors left the truth. One of the "SEEKER SENSITIVE" churches that was in the forefront of the movement for decades has just gone through a four year evaluation to see if they had been successful. Their evaluation said no they had not been effective in the purpose of the church - edification of the saints.

They concluded that they were going to begin teaching a more complete and in depth curriculum to attempt to mature the saints. They had concluded that their congregation was full of mature people that wanted depth to their spiritual lives.

The sad part is it took them four years of effort to come to that conclusion. Their detractors had been saying that for decades and could have told them that if a few moments had they listened.

Go placed the completed Word of God in our hands to bring us to maturity. He has equiped the congregation with people to assist in the edification yet so often churches opt for what is easier and that is quieter, something that will not upset the masses and bring people in.

Verses 34-38

8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

This is most likely a part of Christ’s response to the reaction of Peter. Christ called all together and declared several truths.

A. Anyone that will deny himself is to take up his cross and follow Christ. If you deny yourself you automatically are burdened with problems, losses and missed opportunities for friendships reward and wealth. This seems to be in Christ’s mind a cross to bear. Nothing about suffering death with Him or anything that spiritual, just taking upon oneself the burden of doing without.

When we went off to Bible College we did so with no money and no prospects of finances supplied. In my young Christian life I was under the impression that Christ meant what He said in the Gospels about denying yourself, trusting in Him for supply and all those out-of-date items that we do not talk about anymore in our churches.

We arrived far from home with no job, no place to live and little money to find an apartment. It is odd. God did supply the need. I found a job within a day or two, and that was after we had found an apartment in fairly short order. No, we had no frills, our life was on the order of poverty, but we had what we needed and God provided at just the right time.

Most of our married life we have most likely qualified for a number of welfare programs but were never on any of them because God was providing nicely without the help of government. Actually looking back on those days I am not sure I could consider it a cross. Christ died on one of those for me, why should I not do all I can for Him? Simple philosophy of life I suppose, but it seems to have worked for me and my house.

Consider denying yourself for His gain. That is what it its - giving Him the gain that you could have had. A simple method of trying to repay the debt that you owe.

Many are the illustrations of Christ’s simple request - J. Hudson Taylor, William Carey, and other early missionaries. Pick up one of their life stories and give it a read and see what some have done for their Lord. Deny yourself, it can only produce eternal gain for both you and your Lord.

B. If you save your life you will loose it. In short if you choose to serve yourself you will save your life for your own living, for your own purposes and your own gain, but in truth you will loose the joy of having served the Lord your God.

Indeed, there may be an even more serious part to this. John 15:1-27 seems to show that God removesunproductive believers from this life. Add to that the lack of rewards at the judgment seat of Christ and you will have a good picture of the possible loss.

C. If you lose your life you shall have it. On the other side of things if you lose your life or give it back to the one that bought it for service you will have a life worth having.

After a long life of service I have often looked back and wondered what I might have done with my life if the Lord had not called me to his work. I am left with a complete blank. I was a near high school dropout, drinking and swearing like a sailor which I was, going nowhere very quickly.

Had God not stepped into my life I probably would have done nothing with my life. He has done what He wanted to do with my life and that is adequate for me.

D. And what price is the soul, can you buy it back with your worldly profits, seems to be the thought. If you lose your life you will certainly never be able to beg, barter or buy it back again.

My father-in-law was a godly man but in the end when he faced terminal cancer he realized that he could have done so much more for the Lord and the regrets were great. From the prognosis on he was witnessing to every friend and family that entered his room. He had lived a good life before the Lord but he knew he could have done better. Do not face this sort of regret in the end begin now to serve the Lord as you ought.

E. If you gain the world you may well lose your soul. This does not mean that you will lose your eternal destination, but you will lose your life here on earth. Your history, your worth, your meaning to the Lord will be of total loss. You may be rich, you may be popular and you may have great meaning for the world but to God you will be lose.

Yesterday they announced that Senator Kennedy had a malignant brain tumor. I began to pray for the man on the spot, but had no idea of how to pray for him. Most likely not a believer, he has committed his entire life to pleasure and politics - serving his fellow man. He has great worth to the world as evidenced by the outpouring of concern by fellow congressmen and the media.

My when I am that age I trust this is not true of me for it would prove to all that are witness that I have served other than my Lord Jesus Christ all my life. Serving man is noble, but what is it on the grand stage of God’s plan and decree? Nothing but lose.

This is not meant to detract from Senator Kennedy’s accomplishments for they are many. But it is to say, even though I disagreed with most of what he stood for and what he did, he was a powerful man for the world and indeed devoted to those things most meaningful to him.

F. If you are ashamed of Christ and His in this generation then He will be ashamed of you when He comes.One must wonder at just what spiritual condition one might be in to find himself ashamed of Christ. How far must one backslide to find an association with Him to be distasteful?

This generation is our job, our task, our responsibility to evangelize, just how well are we doing?

Are we speaking to our own generation about the Lord? Are we vocal for the one that died for our sins?

On the other hand picture yourself when He comes - you have brought Him to be ashamed of you by your actions in this life. How will you handle that one? Will there be any answer that you can give Him? Who or what will you blame or will you be up front and admit that it was your self-service that was the problem?

He also marked His own generation as adulterous and sinful. One must wonder what He would call our present generation. We take all of His generation and shove it into every home on a cable or a wire and call it television and the Internet. It is available in nearly every room to any that can throw a power switch.

I personally am appalled at some of the television shows believers watch. Shows that are full of terrible language, shows that are filled with terrible violence and shows full of terrible subject matter. I have no idea how people relate those viewing habits to Philippians 4:8-9 "8 Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

Our focus in this life should be Him and His desires, plans and work, not our own pleasures to satisfy self.

As an overall application of this last passage I would like to relate a question asked of me once. I was interviewing for a position in a large church in CA and one of the board members asked me the question "How do you live your life to gain the reward that you want in eternity?"

I must say that the question shocked me due to the fact that I had never considered the idea of "doing" here for "reward" there. I thought for a few moments to see if I was missing something then answered along the lines that I had never considered how I should live in relation to rewards, nor had I considered what rewards I might gain, much less in relation to what I have or have not done in this life.

I related that Christ died on the cross for me so anything and everything I can do in this life could never make up for that sacrifice made on my behalf. As to rewards I told him that I had never considered what I might gain. Being in heaven with the Lord is enough for me and that due not one whit with what I have done.

Doing for the Lord should be our goal, our life and our gain, everything else that comes along isjust so much more grace from Him that died for us.

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Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 8". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/mark-8.html.