Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Not exempt from death

March 15th, 2009 by Vic

Mark 8

I was reminded again this week at Albert Walch’s funeral and at Sheri’s hospital bed that our bodies were born to die.  We are born physically with a seed that is programmed to die.  The longer we live, the older we get.

Jesus came to reverse this curse of death so that in Christ we can be born again with an imperishable seed.  In Christ the longer we live, the younger we get.  We can’t grow old because there is no time and no end with God.  Christians are not exempt from death or suffering in this world.

Throughout history, Christians have suffered.  The U.S. has been blessed by the Lord for years, but times are changing.  We see all kinds of corruption, greed, foreclosures, unemployment, idols, cults, drunkenness, and many distorted sins.  We as Christians have an opportunity to be salt and light in a dying world.  We know worldly success is not dependent on us, Wall Street, credit cards, or consumers.  Phil 4:19 “My God shall supply all our needs…”

In Mark’s gospel Jesus predicted his coming crucifixion death and resurrection 3 times.  The first is in chapter 8, the 2nd in 9, the 3rd in 10, and the donkey ride is recorded in chapter 11.

Chapter 8 tells us of 6 events: feeding 4,000, Pharisees seek a sign, teaching about leaven, gradual healing, the Christ, and suffering will happen.

This chapter is part of a bigger story.  When Jesus warns disciples about the leaven of Herod and the Pharisees in chapter 8, there is some background behind the warning.  In chapter 6, Jesus was misunderstood in His home church.  He sends out His disciples in pairs with authority.  Herod hears about their ministry and kills John the Baptist.  Jesus plans a staff retreat and teaches compassion by feeding 5,000.  He walks to the disciples on the water.  In chapter 7 the Pharisees criticize the disciples’ failure to practice proper religious rituals.  Jesus taught his disciples about the error of the Pharisee religion and religious traditions.  The commandments of God are simple, not needing the interpretation of a religious hierarchy.  Then He demonstrated the simple power of God by casting out a demon and restoring hearing to a deaf man.

The O.T. had predicted that the Messiah would give hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind.  Jesus was wondering if the disciples were listening.  Were they seeing the signs?  Were they making the connections?

The Herodians were a worldly group of Jews who catered to Herod, accepted the Roman way of life, and saw in Herod and his rule the promised kingdom for the Jewish nation.  If this false teaching got into the hearts and minds of the disciples, it would infect them and pollute the truth Jesus had been teaching them.  Herod could not usher in the kingdom of God.

In Chapter 8, Jesus keeps using events to teach His disciples.  Then as soon as Peter declares He is the Christ, Jesus begins to correct their understanding of the character and roll of the Messiah setting His face toward Jerusalem.

8:1 What is different about the feeding of the 4,000 from the 5,000?  The 5,000 ate in Galilee, primarily Jewish country.  The 4000 ate in the Decapolis, primarily Gentile country.  5 loaves and 2 fish fed the Jews.  7 loaves and a few fish fed the Gentiles.  The Jews listened to Him 1 day, the Gentiles listened 3 days.  The leftovers included 12 small wicker lunch boxes for the Jews and 7 totes, or large hampers for the Gentiles.  Paul was let down over the wall in one of these big baskets.

Jesus has compassion in remote places and impossible situations.  What should the disciples be seeing in Jesus?  What should we be seeing?

8:11 Now he’s back in Jewish country and is met by the religious leaders responsible for protecting the church against heretics.  They wanted to debate with Him and asked Him for a sign, an outward compelling proof of His divine authority.  Actually the word sign means sign, like sign post, like a trail marker.  It is something intended to give you insight into something else.  John does not use the usual word for miracle; he uses the word for signs.  What the other writers call miracles, John sees as events that point people to Christ and the Father.

Jesus lived in a world where everyone was looking for God in the paranormal or abnormal.  Magic, mystery religions, and witchcraft influenced the expectations of religious leaders in Jesus’ day.

These Pharisees did not want some display of power or wonder.  Those magic displays could be seen in pagan temples.  They wanted a proof that God was present in Jesus.  Why didn’t Jesus just take their ears off the side of their head and put them on the back of their hands?  They were ready to argue.  They could explain away anything He did.  It would be demonic magic or power from satan.  They did not believe and could not see.

The world is full of God’s glory and they did not see.  Jesus was Emanuel and they could not see.  The pure in heart see God in everything, not just in stained glass.

Jesus sighed deeply.  He had not been playing hide and seek.  When Thomas demanded a sign after the resurrection, Jesus showed his scars.

8:14 They left without arguing.  Who do you suppose brought the loaf of bread or one power bar?  Peter was a big man.  He probably tucked a snack in his pocket.  He did not want to get hungry.

8:15  Jesus commands them to beware of the leaven of Herod and the Pharisees which is hypocrisy according to Luke 12:1.  In 1 Cor 5:8 Paul says leaven is false teaching.  Galatians 5 says that leaven is false doctrine.  Here the word leaven seems to suggest blindness to the Living Word of God, accepting false doctrine, teaching a distorted gospel message.  Leaven represents corruption.  Beware!

Jesus asks about 9 questions.  The disciples answer 2 that indicate they have a memory, but have they been thinking?  What do they understand about world events?  What do they understand about the direction Jesus is moving?  They do not answer.

8:22 In 6:13 the disciples had been healing many sick people.  Herod testified that the disciples had miraculous powers working in them, but what were the disciples thinking?

Jesus had a reputation that anyone who touched Jesus could be healed.  Some friends courteously brought a blind man to Jesus and asked Him to touch him and heal him.  Only Mark tells us this story and the story of the deaf being healed in 7:32.  Pay attention to what happens to this blind man.  He was not healed in 8:23.  Jesus was leading him by the hand.

Jesus led him by the hand out of town.  Then when Jesus laid both hands on him, he saw a little.  This is the only recorded 2 stage gradual miracle in the N.T.  Jesus heals 7 blind men and no 2 healings are alike.  What does that mean?  Jesus was not giving us a healing manual.

Why was it a gradual healing?  Was this a difficult one for Jesus?  Did the man not have the faith of his friends who brought him?  Were the disciples supposed to learn something from this?

Why does God heal some and not others?

Am I blind to what God is doing?

8:27 Jesus leads the disciples up north for another staff retreat.  “Who do men say that I am?”  There seemed to be some belief in reincarnation.

“But who do you say that I am?”  Peter used the right word, but his definition of Messiah was different from God’s definition.  Before Jesus could tell them about the cross, they needed to understand that Jesus is the Messiah, Emanuel, God come to the world.  So Jesus warned them not to tell anyone until He could finish what He had to do.  He has to be killed and rise from the grave.  He wants to correct their understanding and expectations of Messiah.

8:31 Jesus began stating the facts about the coming events very plainly, but Peter felt compelled to correct His misunderstanding.  You don’t have to die.  God can heal any wounds.  We can be an undying army to establish your kingdom.  You can multiply our provisions.  You don’t have to die.

Jesus recognized Peter’s words as satan’s temptation.  Peter was well intentioned, but not listening to God.  Sometimes satan can speak through a well-intentioned friend.

From this point on the focus of their journey is Jerusalem.  Jesus is walking to His death and resurrection.  He will soon return to heaven with a resurrected body.

Jesus had called these disciples to follow Him.  They knew that whatever happened to Him would happen to them.  If there was a cross in His future, there would be one in their future as well.  They were not ready to die yet.  They had partial sight, but not God’s perspective.

8:34 Deny self (self-surrender), take up his cross (suffering), and follow Me (progress).  Jesus did not come to make life easy, but to make men great.  The world is full of temptations towards profitable dishonesty and comfort.  Yesterday we received a notice in the mail about a Donald Trump seminar that will teach you how to make money in the Real Estate market today.  My dad told me and showed me in his life to never take advantage of someone else’s calamity.  That is what Trump is promoting.

We live in a world that lives for themselves.  They are trying to save their life.  They are trying to add years to their life.  Have you ever noticed that the more you think of yourself, the more miserable you become?  Did you know that no spiritual gift in the Bible was given to build you up?  We need to live for others.  If you want to be happy, as you have opportunity, do good.

Jesus invites us to deny self, take up His cross, and follow in His steps.  That’s God’s plan for success.

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