Gospel Wednesday | Mark 8

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 7, where we saw Jesus directly rebuked the Pharisees for their false teaching and their misunderstanding of sin and what defiles a man. Jesus declared all foods clean and identified the heart of man as the root of our defilement. We are sinners who sin, not good people who are defiled by what we eat or what touches us.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 8 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 8:1-10 (ESV) | Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them,“How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

Once again, Jesus feeds the crowd miraculously in the wilderness. When we were working through Mark 6 we looked at how the feeding of the multitude served as a testimony of Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. On this occasion, I’d like to focus more on how this points ahead to the New Covenant, particularly communion. We see here Jesus begins by declaring His compassion on the crowd, and that they have been with Him now 3 days. Immediately what comes to mind is John 3:16-17 (ESV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” It was because of God’s compassion on us that He gave His Son to die on the cross, bearing the full wrath of our sin, and resurrecting on the third day that we might be saved through Him. 

I love how Jesus then says that if He sends them away without feeding them, they’ll faint on the way. In our modern-day churches, so often the gathering of the saints closes without the congregation being fed the Gospel so that they might not faint on their way home. My Lutheran readers will assume I’m speaking of not taking communion at the end of the service, but that is not all I’m speaking about. Not every Lutheran church partakes of the bread and the cup weekly. For my non-Lutheran readers, I understand that many do not immediately think of communion when I mentioned “being fed the Gospel”… but you might be wondering if I’m suggesting every service should end in an altar-call. I assure, I am not. I’m talking about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Our sermons have become quite law-heavy (and not always biblical Law) where our focus in preaching has somehow become fixated on the need to preach the law and give principles or advice in how to better keep the Law. Brothers, we are sinners who are incapable of keeping the Law… therefore, we need to be fed the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer to our sin, that we might live and not faint on our way home. The letter of the Law kills, and our sinful flesh needs to be killed by the Law… but that’s not what sustains you on your way home, throughout the week until the next opportunity to hear the Word Preached… it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that gives life, that grants faith, that sustains us in a fallen world. Matthew 4:4 (ESV) …“It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Mark 8:11-13 (ESV) | The Pharisees Demand a Sign

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Mark 8:14-21 (ESV) | The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

The Pharisees demanded a sign, but it was to test Him, not to Believe in Him. They had already ignored every sign performed testifying of Him. No one seeks after God, no not one. There are no seekers of Truth among the unbelievers, they only lay traps. The disciples are confused at this point, distracted by their own works. They misunderstood Jesus’ teaching regarding the leaven of the Pharisees because they were looking for ways they could have served Christ better, maybe they should have planned ahead for more food. Entirely missing the point Jesus made in the miracle and in the warning of the Pharisees. This was all about Faith in Christ Jesus, not in the works of men. It is Christ who paid the price, Christ who defeated sin, death and the grave, and it is Christ who forgives, regenerates, and sustains the believer. Christ does the work. He does all of the work. His righteousness is imputed to us. He is the bread of Life that sustains us in the wilderness.

Mark 8:22-26 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Mark gives us a narrative account of this particular healing. The only indicative here is the instruction gives to the man, “Do not even enter the village”. I think command was given in similar fashion to His instructions to others “tell no one of this”… only in this case Jesus is telling the man not to even enter the village.

That this account of a gradual healing is related to us between the account of Jesus feeding the crowd and the confession of Jesus as the Christ leads me (personal opinion here) to think on the human condition and our slowness to understand the things of God. Christ regenerates us, opens our ears, grants us Faith, saves us from the death of sin… but we are so slow and hard of heart to understand. We join in Christ’s death in water baptism, but we struggle to leave the flesh behind… we are tempted to feed the desires of the flesh and so sin and are in need of repentance and forgiveness, again. We gather with the saints week after week, to hear the Law of God preached as it exposes our sin and crushes us unto repentance, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may once again heal us, soothe us, restore us, and grant us Peace. Christ is ever merciful to us, granting us healing and forgiveness… He is Faithful and Just to do so. Lord, in your Mercy, hear our prayer.

Mark 8:27-30 (ESV) | Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Mark 8:31-38 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “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 soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? 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.”

Peter had been granted Faith to believe in Jesus as the Christ. Like the man who had been granted sight, Peter didn’t not yet see clearly that the Christ must suffer and die at the hands of evil men, bearing the weight of our sin, becoming sin in our place on the cross, that we might be Saved through Him. Peter’s eyes were opened, but his vision still clouded by his sinful nature. Jesus rebukes his sin, his unbelief, his lack of faith. A tough rebuke, but a necessary one. I thank God for Peter, and the account we have of his growth in the Faith.


Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 26:1-29

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 25.

Last week’s look at Matthew 25 ended with Jesus closing out His answer to the disciples’ question, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3b). The disciples had come to Jesus privately for this lesson. Jesus wasn’t speaking to the multitudes here.

Matthew 26 (ESV)

Matthew 26 (ESV) | The Plot to Kill Jesus

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Jesus tells the disciples plainly that He would be delivered up to be crucified. Now, maybe the disciples struggled to understand how or why the Romans would crucify Jesus on account of the chief priests and the elders. Maybe they couldn’t see the chief priests going for a Roman style of execution for an offense to them. We don’t know because it’s not written in here. We do know that despite all of His warnings and statements, they weren’t intellectually or emotionally prepared for what was about to take place. I praise God that Faith is not dependent upon our intellect or emotions. God knows their hearts… and He preserves them through the storm they are about to experience.

Beginning in verse 3, we have a scene change in Matthew’s writing. We move away from Jesus and His disciples and we are let in on the plotting of the chief priests and elders. Now, Jesus told His disciples that He was to be crucified. The plot is to secretly arrest and kill Him. They decide to wait until the end of the Passover to enact their plan.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.

Okay, so here to get a sense of what was going on at this event, we need to do some cross-referencing. Mark’s account adds some details but mostly follows Matthew’s account here. Biblical scholars attribute Mark’s account to those of the Apostle Peter’s teachings. The account found in John focuses a little more on the woman and her actions than Mark and Matthew. John also gives some insight into the motivations of one who was most offended by the act.

John 12:1-8 (ESV) 12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

A couple of notes here, the tracking of time looks like a conflict between John and Matthew (six days vs two days), but in neither account do we have an exact reference point to when the “passage of time” clause comes in. We know Passover. John says that Jesus entered Bethany six days out and Matthew says that Jesus told them He would be crucified “after two days the Passover is coming”. Neither account is slavishly following a chronological timeline. We don’t need it here, since we know the Passover and we have what is being taught by the events we have recorded. As for the anointing of the Head vice the anointing of the Feet of Jesus, it was most likely both. It was customary to anoint the head with oil, yet in those accounts we see Jesus referring to her act as anointing His body. A pound of ointment is a lot of oil. The difference in John’s account, I think, is because this act of humble worship isn’t the norm. We see throughout John’s account of the Gospel the focus on the Deity of Jesus and the heart of worship. John gives us the purpose of his account of the Gospel in John 20:20-31:

John 20:30-31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John’s account begins with the Deity of Christ and carries that not throughout. Mary was indeed anointing His body for burial, but she also worshiped at His feet. John’s gospel was probably written much later than Matthew’s, and to an audience that is less Jewish and more Gentile Believers. We return to Matthew’s account now, where we’ve been operating under the notion that his target audience was primarily Jewish Believers.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Judas to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | The Passover with the Disciples

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I,Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Matthew’s account makes a bit of an aside letting us know that Judas had gone to the chief priests offering to betray the LORD for a fee. When the time comes to reveal Judas to the other disciples as His betrayer, notice we see a similarity to Matt 18:7 (ESV), “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”  Here, Jesus affirms that whatever transpires next will be according to the Will of God, what has already been Written of Him… but the vessel or agent of this betrayal is doomed. The pronouncement of judgement against Judas is striking. Judas doesn’t stand as the example of one who is shaken in the faith, or overcome with fear, doubt, or anxiety… we’ll see that later. No, Judas is the example of the false teacher, the false prophet who teaches for shameful gain what should not be taught.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Institution of the Lord’s Supper

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

There is a tendency these days for Christians to think that the Passover (Exodus 12) Meal became the Lord’s Supper. That is not what is happening here. The Passover points to Jesus Christ. They were indeed gathered for the Passover Meal. During that meal, Jesus then institutes something new. The New Covenant of the Blood of Jesus. This covenant is superior to the Old Covenant, of which the Passover was a major part. The New Covenant had done away with the need for yearly sacrifice, for Christ is the Perfect and Final sacrifice (Hebrews 8-9). I would love to discuss this institution of the Lord’s Supper further, but doing so would cut along denominational lines (Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Methodist) so I leave this to you to search out and discuss with your Pastors/Elders. For now, let us close by looking at what is taught in Hebrews 8-9.

Hebrews 8 (ESV) | Jesus, High Priest of a Better Covenant

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 9 (ESV) | The Earthly Holy Place

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Redemption Through the Blood of Christ

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of Matthew 26. As we closed today with the Gospel, we will also close next week’s study with the Gospel. We are working through some of the toughest passages of the Gospel According to Matthew. It seems we will be pressing into the Advent season by the time we close out our study of Matthew. Until next week, remain in the Word and stand firm in the Faith.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,