See Matthew 16:24-28, Luke 9:23-27, and associated notes. Mark includes the detail that this teaching was presented not just to the disciples but the... Read more
See Matthew 16:24-28, Luke 9:23-27, and associated notes. Mark includes the detail that this teaching was presented not just to the disciples but the crowd. Given that many in the crowd were following Jesus in the hope that He would become the warrior-king they wanted and free them of the Romans, it was necessary that they should be disillusioned of their false hopes and presented with the truth of what He had come to do. The door remained open to any who wished to truly become disciples, but the warning was now given that the road ahead was not one that led to a visible kingdom and temporal glory but to self-sacrifice and death.
Jesus also warned that there was no escaping the necessity of choosing between the approval of the cosmos, the world system dominated by Satan, and His. A man can gain not merely material goods but the world's approval by treating Jesus and His words as something to be ashamed of, but at the cost of His approval and acceptance when He comes in judgment. Read less
Mark is the only one of the Gospel writers that records this miracle, which perhaps was of particular significance to Peter because Bethsaida was his ... Read more
Mark is the only one of the Gospel writers that records this miracle, which perhaps was of particular significance to Peter because Bethsaida was his hometown. As with the healing of the deaf man recounted in Mark 7:31-37, Jesus' method on this occasion was unique. Many eye diseases which can cause blindness also cause runny or gummy eyes, so Jesus may simply have used His saliva to loosen and remove secretions which were keeping the man's eyes glued shut. The reason why the man's healing took place in stages has been debated among commentators; perhaps it reflected the measure of his faith at first and the growth of his faith as he apprehended what Jesus had done. But another possibility is that if the man had been blind from infancy, he may have literally had to learn to comprehend and use his restored sense, a phenomenon explored in Marius von Senden's book Space and Sight. If that was the case, Jesus' first laying on of hands may have restored the physical function of the eyes, while His second gave the man the ability to interpret and use what he was seeing.
In von Senden's work, which is summarized in the chapter "The Way In" from the book In His Image (Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand), von Senden found that those who had received sight as adults (typically following the removal of cataracts) had to learn a whole new way of interpreting the world. Accustomed to recognizing objects and measuring distance by touch and muscle sensations, they now had to learn to process and use visual cues to judge depth and distance, perceive motion, and recognize shapes, objects, and faces – all skills that those who are sighted from birth use without ever thinking about it. For most of von Senden's patients, it took months or even years of intense training to master these abilities. The spiritual parallel is breathtaking: to receive salvation and to move from spiritual death to life opens up a whole new way of seeing and perceiving which is at once completely marvelous and at the same time very difficult. It is not natural to our old ways to learn to see ourselves, our neighbors, and our world as God does, but that is exactly what we must learn to do to follow Him. Fortunately, we are not left to ourselves in this process; just as von Senden's patients had the help of skilled therapists, we have the help of the Holy Spirit and more experienced Christians in learning to see with the eyes of faith.
Jesus' insistence on privacy for this miracle and His injunction to the formerly blind man not to go and noise it about in the village may well have had a judicial aspect, for the village of Bethsaida had already been generally condemned for its unbelief in the face of the miracles which Jesus had already performed there (Matthew 11:20-24). As in other circumstances in which a group of people had been consigned to judgment, Jesus was still willing to receive individuals of that group who came to Him in faith but would not provide any further testimony to those who had already rejected Him and His message. Read less
See Matthew 16:5-12 and associated notes. Mark omits Jesus' caution against the “leaven” of the Sadducees but includes a warning against that of Hero... Read more
See Matthew 16:5-12 and associated notes. Mark omits Jesus' caution against the “leaven” of the Sadducees but includes a warning against that of Herod. As the Herods, one and all, were power-hungry politicians, the warning would seem to be against grasping for temporal power, especially to achieve spiritual ends. Christians are not forbidden to serve in secular government and may even be called to such service, but they must be very careful of their motives and not seek public office either for self-aggrandizement or to force a “Christian” agenda on the community at large. Read less
See Matthew 16:1-4 and associated notes. As Mark records this encounter, Jesus was making it plain that those then living and questioning Him would n... Read more
See Matthew 16:1-4 and associated notes. As Mark records this encounter, Jesus was making it plain that those then living and questioning Him would not receive any new demonstration of His credentials; Matthew expands on His statement to show Him pointing back to what they had already been given and chose not to understand. Read less