For an introduction to this series, click here.
Jan. 24, 2007
After Jesus had just performed this miracle, the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign. Jesus knew that giving in to these people was pointless, that they would never be content no matter what miracle Jesus did. Jesus said very plainly, "No sign shall be given to this generation," (8:12) and left. Jesus had the advantage of omniscience, but He still knew not to waste time on people who were not going to believe. It's hard to follow this example, of course, because we can't read people's hearts, but if this and many other incidents where Jesus brushed off people mean anything at all, it means that we should not waste our time hammering away at people who show no interest in receiving the Gospel. As Jesus Himself said, don't cast your pearls before swine.
Later in this chapter we have a very odd story. Jesus enters Bethsaida (remember Bethsaida was one of the cities Jesus pronounced woe upon in Matthew) and a blind man asks to be healed. Jesus takes the man out of town and heals him. After He healed him, Jesus said, "Do not even enter the village." (8:26) We don't know whether Jesus did this miracle before or after He pronounced judgment on the city, but once again it is clear that Jesus has already left the people behind. How very sad. I wonder if the people were even aware that Jesus had written them off. Unlike many that we saw previously in Mark, this man apparently obeyed when Jesus told him not to tell anyone.
The last section of this chapter is one of the central passages of the New Testament: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (8:34-38, ESV)
This passage speaks for itself.