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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Mark 8

 

 

Verses 1-38

Mark 8:10. He came into the parts of Dalmanutha, situate beyond the Jordan, where Tiberias and Magdala were considerable towns.

Mark 8:12. There shall no sign be given to this generation. Matthew 12:38.

Mark 8:24. I see men, as trees, walking. To other blind men the Lord said, receive your sight, and the blind saw. Here he chose to diversify his manner by a gradual restoration of the powers of vision. From the more private and gradual operation of this miracle, we learn that this man had lost his sight in the course of providence. The town of Bethsaida through unbelief, after rejecting the glorious works recorded in Matthew 11:4; Matthew 11:21 and Luke 10:13, was deemed unworthy to see another miracle. Such are the awful retributions of divine justice. The Lord did not even allow the man restored to sight, to publish the miracle of mercy in such an unworthy place, but sent him away to his own house. It is the same with regard to the gradual illumination of the mind. Some men are suddenly touched and converted; others see their sins; fear to die, try to keep the law, use the means of grace, seek salvation partly by works, partly by grace; but sincere seekers at length see the glory of God in the face of Christ, and exult in the joys of remission.

Mark 8:29. Thou art the Christ. Eusebius, in his demonstration of the gospel, book 3. ch. 7, after reciting the whole of Matthew 16:16-18, notices that Mark simply says, thou art the Christ. Peter having dictated and revised the gospel of this evangelist, could not publish his own praise. For which reason, Mark also passes it by. — This invaluable work of Eusebius I now hold in my hand, while I translate. Ed. Paris, fol. 1528.

Mark 8:31. And after three days rise again. Erasmus, in his critical annotations, reckons these from the commencement of our Saviour’s passion. Beza has also a long note here. He illustrates the phrase as a hebraism, by authorities.

Mark 8:36. If he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul. The riches he shall lose are not his own; but the soul, in regard of intellectual powers, moral endowments, and immortality, as we have remarked on Genesis 2:7, may be said to be truly his own, or rather himself. And when the Judge shall retaliate, and be ashamed of temporizing characters, their souls are lost for ever. The last words decide that the immortal spirit in man is here understood.

REFLECTIONS.

We have at the end of this chapter, one of the most impressive passages of our Saviour’s ministry. Drawing towards the close of life he began to fortify his disciples, and the whole multitude, against temporizing with religion in that adulterous age. He was now in Judea, where many believed on him, but did not confess him openly for fear of the jews. Their judgment was informed, and they admired his person and the glory of his works, but secretly said we must run no risk. We must abide in the synagogue, we have wives and children, and we must preserve our shops, our lands, and our lives. Hence we think those who confess him openly warmer than wise. Now, against this wily policy the Lord set a firm face, and directed the thunderbolt of his word. He declared that those wary men were not sufficiently wise; that in the issue they should both lose their lives and their riches; and that the simple hearted who owned the truth, and left the consequences to the care of providence, should save their lives. And this prophecy was most strikingly realized in the siege of Jerusalem. The prudent temporizers took refuge in the city, and perished; but the simple hearted fled beyond the Jordan, and were preserved.

From those most striking occurrences we learn our call to make an honest and open profession of religion. In all places, and in all companies, let us carry the mark of God in our forehead. Let us serve him openly, for he has openly loaded us with benefits; and shall we ever be ashamed of redeeming love? How else shall we dare to see his face? How else, but by example, shall the unregenerate be emboldened to forsake the world, and confess the Lord. And though we should in ruder times be called to exile, to sufferings or to martyrdom, we are still to confess the Lord.

This profession must be voluntary. Whosoever will come after me, said Jesus. Whatever we do for God must be a freewill offering through faith. We may say of the believer’s consent, as of Christ’s death, by the which will we are all sanctified.

It must be accompanied with self-denial. All unlawful pleasures must be abandoned, all carnal court and homage to the world must cease; for it is still the world which crucified the Lord, stoned the prophets, and martyred the saints. Yea, and our own will must be so lost in the will of God, as spiritually to be dead with Christ, and crucified to the world. The taking up of our daily cross in the spirit and temper of our Redeemer is also implied here.

In this honest profession of religion our faith must be founded on argument. What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world. Here the worth of the soul is opposed to worldly gain. And what can the world do for those shrewd and plodding men who have realized a fortune. Can it give them health in sickness? Can it produce peace of conscience; and can it shelter them in the day of visitation? Nay, the rich are then the most exposed, and the least resigned to die. But, oh the soul, the immortal soul, so godlike in its powers, and so divine in its capacity of happiness; shall it be entombed in sensual love, and earthly desire? Shall it be lost, irrecoverably lost, for the momentary smiles of earth? Think, oh man, that this case is put in the form of an interrogation; for so the scriptures do when the case is unutterable. Hence those piercing questions, How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation. If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear.

Our Saviour came to a full issue, and clinched the nail with temporizers. He declared that all who were thus finally ashamed of him in that adulterous age, should not only lose their lives and their gain in Jerusalem, but lose their souls in the day of judgment. He would be ashamed of them before his Father and his holy angels. How striking are the retributions of justice: how equal are the ways of God!

We must admire the openness and candour of our blessed Lord as a preacher. He never trifled, he never amused his hearers. He avowed the terms of salvation with a high voice; and fully apprized his followers from the beginning with the rigours of the cross, and the usage they must expect from the world. And happy is the man who unconditionally puts his soul under his yoke; for his commandments are not grievous.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 8:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/mark-8.html. 1835.

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Saturday, January 25th, 2020
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