Mark 8

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Jesus Foretells His Death

This is one of three times in Marks' gospel where Jesus predicts his own death and resurrection. This section is about explaining that it really means to be the Messiah, and what it means to be a follower (Lane 293).


Verse 31: He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. (NIV)

  • The use of “began” to teach indicates that this is a new teaching (Brooks 136).
  • ”Son of Man” is a term that Jesus uses quite often to describe himself.
    • Scripturally, it originally came from Daniel 2, though Jesus expanded this greatly.
    • There is also evidence that the term is a literal translation of an Aramaic phrase that was used simply as a substitute for “I” (Lane 297), so that while Jesus meant more, the disciples didn't need to understand anything special about the term at first.
  • The word translated here as “must” means “it is necessary.”
  • This does not say that he must be rejected by the people, but only by the leaders.
    • Chief priests is plural, which is not literally accurate. It probably means former chief priests, the current chief priest, and members of important families in the priesthood, according to Josephus (Brooks 136).
    • ”Teachers of the Law” are generally understood as scribes.
    • Together, these groups made up the Sanhedrin, the chief source of power in Jewish culture at the time. Thus this is about the unrecognized Messiah (France 335).
  • By placing “kill” in the passive voice, Jesus is keeping it very vague who would kill him.
    • He could have said “and they must kill him” but he didn't.
    • Part of this might be so that we don't place blame on any one group.
    • Another reason could be to keep in mind that Jesus lay down his life. He was killed, but no one took his life from him.
  • It is common in the Bible to use euphemisms for death, or to talk about death as “destruction,” but not here. This is the simple word for “kill.”
  • Mark is unique among the gospels for saying “after three days,” retaining the more Jewish phrasing. Mathew and Luke say “on the third day” (France 336).


Verse 32: He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (NIV)

  • The word translated as ”openly” is about being open, truthful, even frank with people. This carries with it a secondary connotation of courage and boldness (Arndt 630).
  • ”Rebuke” carries with it not just the idea that saying something was bad, but also contains an element of censure and trying to stop an action from taking place (Arndt 303). This was partly about Peter trying to tell God not to say something.
  • There is no indication of exactly why Peter wanted Jesus not to say these things.
    • Perhaps because it was scaring people, but probably because Peter felt that it wasn't the role of the Messiah to die.
    • Another option is that Peter felt this was part of what Jesus had just told them not to talk about in verse 29.


Verse 33: But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (NIV)

  • Jesus uses the same word for “rebuking” Peter as Peter had used on him.
  • Jesus waited until he had turned around and seen the other disciples to rebuke Peter.
    • It is unlikely Jesus wanted to wait and make Peter's rebuking more public.
    • One explanation is that Jesus was tempted to keep quiet for a moment, until he saw again why he was doing this.
  • ”Get behind me” probably is a literal statement since Jesus had turned around at that point. But it carries connotations of not tempting him anymore.
  • Referring to Peter as “Satan” brings back images of the temptation of Jesus earlier in Mark, giving strength to the view that Jesus was really tempted to keep quiet here.
  • ”Satan” does not here have an article attached, which would make it definite and probably refer to Satan as a person.
    • Satan is a transliteration of the Greek word (from the Aramaic) “Satanas” which means “adversary” (Louw 1:144). This was a standard word in use in the language.
    • By not calling Peter “the Satan,” Jesus is probably using the word in its' generic sense of deceiver, with special reference to being tempted to do something wrong.
  • There is no indication or implication that Peter was possessed or being influenced by Satan. This is not saying that Peter is Satan so much as that Peter is speaking just as Satan would.
  • Jesus does not rebuke is not that Peter was challenging Jesus, or that Peter was wrong. It was simply that he had his mind on the wrong things.
  • ”Have in mind” is more literally, “you think” and involves not just having thoughts, but having understanding, being wise about something (Liddell 872), or setting your mind on something (Arndt 866). Peter is letting himself be driven and be wise about the things of the world.


Verse 34: Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (NIV)

  • It is very telling that Jesus just went through a trying moment in his life, and instead of lingering over it, or covering it up, Jesus publicly starts talking about the root problem.
  • By widening the circle of who hears this, Mark is making a point of showing that this was a major announcement. More importantly, it also places the following requirements as things for all followers, not just the twelve (France 339).
  • The cross was not seen at the time as an instrument of suffering or sacrifice. It was a symbol of death. This is literally a call to die, given to a crowd of people, almost all of whom died that kept following Jesus.


Verse 35: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. (NIV)

  • ”Lose” is a very weak translation of a word that means “destroy.”
    • This isn't an accidental loss, but that if we seek to save our own souls we will only destroy ourselves.
    • The reverse is more problematic, however. It is unclear how we can destroy our own souls for Jesus. That is why many translations use the word “life.”
  • The word translated as “life” here more commonly refers to “soul” and is the same word translated as such in verses 36 and 37.
    • In this verse it does appear to refer more to the physical life than the soul, but the next verse soul fits best.
    • This term is used in the Hebrew sense of a holistic person, as one unit (Brooks 138). This is about everything that makes up a person.
    • In this context, it is about both the physical life and the true life that comes after (France 341). Clinging to this life forfeits true life.


Verse 36: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (NIV)

  • ”Forfeit” is a word meaning to suffer the loss of something, sometimes as punishment (Arndt 338). There is a contrast here between “gaining” world and “losing” the soul as the cost of that.
  • ”Soul” is the same word as the one translated “life” in the previous verse.


Verse 37: Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (NIV)

  • This is basically a rephrasing of the previous verse. The implication is that nothing we can earn on this world is something we can exchange for our souls.


Verse 38: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” (NIV)

  • ”Me” is emphatic here. Jesus is emphasizing that this isn't a generic shame, but is personal.
  • ”And my words” is missing from some manuscripts (France 332).
  • Here Jesus mentions two things that people should be ashamed, sin and adultery.
    • These things are then contrasted with Jesus, with whom we have nothing to be ashamed about.
    • The idea is that if we are ashamed about Jesus and not about the truly shameful things that are taking over our generation, then God is ashamed of us, and rightly so.
  • Being ashamed of Jesus also has the association of persecution and martyrdom in the early Church.
  • Adultery is not just a physical fornication. It often represented God's people falling away from God (France 342).
  • This coming is not necessarily the second coming, but a change in status of the son of man to king, as Daniel 7:13 talks about (France 342).


Message Ideas/Scripts/Liturgy That Use This Chapter

 VerseDirectionTopicAudienceOccasionCategory
Compassionate Hearts Curriculum1-10Connect with “compassionate hearts” a Christian education curriculum to promote a child’s moral and spiritual development. Engage in a practical curriculum that is applicable for Christian leaders and teachers in the church or school environment.CompassionChildren and Youth, Young AdultsGeneralMessage Idea
Everyone needs Compassion{{{verse}}}CompassionCompassionGeneralGeneralMessage Idea
Peter Enthusiastically Proclaims Jesus as the Christ27-30Even as a grown man, Peter had a child-like faith in Jesus and proclaimed Him to be the Christ.FaithfulnessGeneralGeneralMessage Idea