The Bible reading group continues to be enjoyable and thought provoking.
The setting for chapter 8 was the Sea of Galilee – Mark 7:31. Somebody remarked that there was a great deal of travel taking place in this chapter and that although one event appeared to follow another, a considerable amount of time must have passed.
We read of a second incident of Jesus feeding a large crowd with a small amount of food. (The first incident was in Mark 6:35-44) the number of people, loaves, fish and baskets of leftovers, were different but the miracle was the same.
Jesus and the disciples then left in a boat, and landed at Magadan on the east coast of the Sea of Galilee. Here there was a brief discussion between some Pharisees and Jesus and Mark 8:13 tells us that he and his disciples boarded a boat again and cross the lake.
While they were sailing, there was an interesting discussion about bread. Jesus warned the disciples about the Pharisees’ attitude (Mark 8:14) and the disciples misunderstood him. Jesus realised this and criticised them for not understanding. We read of a similar situation in chapter 4 when the disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable of the sower. He alluded to the disciples’ lack of understanding and perception. (Mark 8:17). He reminded them of the two miracles of loaves and fishes, quizzing them about the details. The Pharisees lacked understanding because they were intent on finding fault with Jesus despite the great miracles he was able to perform. His own disciples were worrying that Jesus was criticising them for merely forgetting to take bread for the journey when he was really warning them that like the Pharisees, they could miss the point of the Miracles and parables by being distracted by the mundane issues of life.
Mark 8:22-26 shows us another healing, this time some people brought a blind man to Jesus to be healed. We wondered whether he took the man to one side because it was the faith of the companions that moved them to bring the man to Jesus. The healing was, like the healing of the deaf and dumb man in chapter 7, very tactile. Jesus used touch to communicate with them. But this healing took place in two stages which we found strange since Jesus had the power to heal the man instantly.
In Mark 8:27-38, Jesus and his disciples have a deep discussion about his true nature. In Mark 8:29 Peter says” you are the Christ.” Jesus told them not to tell anyone – this was an intimate conversation. When he told them about the events that would lead to he is death and resurrection, Peter couldn’t accept it and rebuked him, but Jesus in turn rebuked Peter accusing saying
“Get behind my Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (Mark 8:33).
In Mark 8:34 the crowd are called to him and he teaches them all the lesson of self sacrifice and devotion to him.
The chapter concludes in Mark 8:38 with the phrase “…when he (Jesus) comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” A promise of something yet to come to pass.