Monday, October 08, 2018

Devotional: Right and Wrong at the Same Time Mark 8:22-9:1

Mark 8.23-9.1 outline

The rest of chapter completes the transition section to Jesus’ revelation to his disciples that, as Messiah, he would have to go to the cross, die and rise from the dead to open the way for the world to experience the blessings of God’s kingdom. This teaching was completely unexpected by the disciples who expected Jesus to defeat the enemies of their nation and bring in the glorious kingdom of God right away. Peter’s confession and subsequent rebuke by Jesus represented the view of all the disciples who recognized who Jesus was but failed to understand how the kingdom was to come and what their part in it would be. Thus, they needed further teaching and exposure to Jesus before they were ready to begin what would be their mission: the founding of the church community and taking the message of the gospel to the world. This teaching section (8:22-10:45) is bracketed by the healings of two blind men to show that the disciples’ blindness to Jesus and his mission needed to be fixed before they were ready for this mission.

The healing of the blind man at Bethsaida concludes the previous section (the revelation of Jesus as God’s Son) and begins this next teaching section. Jesus heals the blind man by spitting in his eye and laying his hands on him. The healing takes place in stages. After the healing Jesus tells the man to keep it quiet. The details seem strange, but they are a picture of what Jesus is about to do for the disciples. After the first stage of the healing the man says, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking” (Mark 8:24 ESV). This pictures the disciples’ understanding of Jesus.. They needed further experience of him and exposure to his teaching before they were ready to do what God had called them to do. At the end of this section, the healing of Bartimaeus (10:52) will be immediate and Jesus will command him to “go.”

Peter’s confession is like the blind man’s sight when he sees people as trees. He gets the label right, Messiah, but totally misunderstands what it means and what being part of God's kingdom is all about. Jesus rebukes Peter (he will strongly rebuke the disciples four times in this section) because he makes the same mistake as the Pharisees. He wants a Jesus who conforms to his own selfish agenda, “the things of man,” but Jesus will only bless on his terms. For the first time in Mark, Jesus reveals that the kingdom must go through the cross and resurrection and that His disciples must deny themselves and take up His cross of suffering to follow Him. He promises glory. but the cross and self-denial must come first. To teach anything else is to be a "satan."

Like Peter, and the rest of the disciples, we need regular exposure to the touch and word of Jesus to enable us to rise above our own selfish agendas and change our bad theology (wrong ideas about the character of God and the mission he calls us to do). The disciples listened, gave their lives and did their job and left us with a legacy and a body of faith to follow. We build on that foundation as we listen to the Spirit and apply Jesus’ word to our daily life and work. Jesus calls us to pick up his cross and follow his agenda for the day which may be difficult, but is only the only way to “glory” and “to gain the whole world.” The disciples were about to get a glimpse of that glory (9:1).

No comments: