SELFISH INTERESTS

Mark 8:31-9:1

BRIEF INTRO: Throughout this chapter, we have witnessed a build-up of tension regarding who Jesus is. Actually, that tension began with the disciple’s lack of understanding regarding how the kingdom is built (Mark 4:13) and escalated into what we saw in our last study in chapter 8 -“who do you say that I am” (v. 29)?

With such a bold, honest confession by Peter, we would be led to think that the disciples finally understand fully who Jesus truly is and what He came to do. Their role to play in the immediate future after His ascension.

But, in this study, we will observe that this is not the case. So boldly, Peter’s confession quickly betrays his still-lagging understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead32 And He was stating the matter plainly.

FOCUS ONE: The self-denial of Jesus

After that fantastic confession from Peter (v. 29), Jesus begins to explain what that means. The main avenue of thinking in Christ’s day regarding the messiah was that He would come and overthrow Rome and establish an earthly messianic kingdom. What Jesus teaches these men is contrary to that vain of thought! Instead of a mighty, warrior-like earthly king conquering armies in battle, He declared that the Son of man must suffer many things, be killed, and rise again in victory (Isaiah 52:13). This was a different perspective of Christ’s mission then they were used to, and most likely not prepared for. 

“Though Peter identified Him as “the Christ” (8:29), Jesus did not discuss the title or the issue of His identity.Rather, He focused on His mission, and used the designation ‘the Son of Man’.” Mark uses this title to show the importance of an event for his Christian readers (Mark 2:10, 28).

How significant an event is this? Extremely significant! Only through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus can anyone be declared forgiven, justified, cleansed, and redeemed (Romans 5:8-10)! The resurrection is our assurance that God the Father was pleased with and accepted the sacrifice of His Son in place of sinners. 

Our text reveals that Jesus was not speaking in parables or using some form of illustration. Instead, He “stated the matter plainly” (v. 32). This statement marks (no pun intended) out for us a new shift in Christ’s focus from this point forward. Jesus wants these men who will continue the mission of “proclaiming” such good news, to understand His purpose for coming and what that means for all who believe in Him. He wants them to be encouraged by the fact that His coming death will not be the last word; rather, they will see Him again in Galilee!

And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 

FOCUS TWO: The self-centeredness of Peter

Contrary to Christ’s self-lessness, we find Peter again focusing on the physical aspect of things rather than the spiritual. Peter did not fully comprehend who Jesus was; I would imagine he would not have felt bold enough to rebuke Him!

Peter does exhibit some sense of décor in that he takes Jesus aside for a more private chat, away from the others. “Peter clearly understood Jesus’s words but could not reconcile his view of the ‘Messiah’ with the suffering and death Jesus predicted. So, Peter began to rebuke Him for His defeatist approach.”

We will observe something rather uncomfortable in our next focus point. We will witness Peter becoming an unwitting spokesman for Satan.

3 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on [a] God’s purposes, but on man’s.”

FOCUS THREE: The self-denial of true disciples

That first sentence powerfully affects me. In my mind, I envision our Lord, standing beside Peter, who had just pulled Him aside in rebuke, turning His head for a moment and seeing the rest of the twelve close by, confused and wondering what Peter was saying to Him. 

Jesus, seeing His disciples, returns the favor and rebukes Peter in their hearing! Why wouldn’t he try to be more discreet about it like Peter was? Because Peter, along with the others, needed to understand that these things must come to pass. They needed to understand what He was telling them because what He was saying was a big part of their preparation for ministry after He ascended to be with the Father. This is the Father’s will for the Son to complete, resulting in salvation for those who are lost.

34 And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save his [a]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?37 For what could a person give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

FOCUS FOUR: The willing submission of Christ’s followers

Jesus’s previous teaching regarding His death and resurrection in fulfillment of God’s divine plan ought to lead those who benefit from it into a life of self-less-ness or self-denial. The cross and empty tomb should be a GREAT encouragement to those who have been forgiven much. No sacrifice is too great because we know we can NEVER out-sacrifice Jesus!

Faithful followers of Jesus will count the cost of following Him and deem it worth whatever it costs. They will be willing to obey His commands and receive His counsel. They must not be living for this life and its temporary pleasures BUT for the kingdom of their Lord who reigns forever and ever!

Faithful followers of Jesus Christ understand that death is not the end, only the beginning! They need not fear it because “to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:3).

Such a life is possible but plausible when a follower of Jesus picks up their cross (the burdens, afflictions, and persecutions that come from following) and follows Him.

These words “relate to a situation in which Christians faced the alternatives of confessing Christ or denying Him. Jesus warns that by denying Him, one’s physical life may be saved; but one’s eschatological life- i.e., his eternal life, will be lost. Conversely, to lose one’s physical life by remaining true to Christ-i.e., by confessing Him under duress-is to be assured of eternal life and salvation.” 

Some thoughts to consider:

  1. 1. Is your understanding of the gospel accurate? Why would God the Father give His ONLY Son as a substitute for sinners?
  2. 2. How important is the resurrection in God’s salvation plan?
  3. 3. Is your life one of self-interest or self-denial?
  4. 4. What picture of Jesus do we get in this text?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary

The Expositors Bible Commentary

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