A ReMARKable Life Series
  • The gospel of Mark is a short, action-packed book that focuses on how Jesus Christ is the Messiah for every man, woman, and child. Christ – fully man, fully God. But Jesus wasn't the rescuer God's people had imagined, and many didn't recognize Jesus as their answer to prayer. We, too, can miss out on what God wants for us if we're only looking for answers that fit our expectations. Join us for this series as we explore Jesus' heart for people and we can change the world by serving one person at a time and helping them connect with God.
6. The Turning Point (Mark 8:22-38)
  • Jesus heals a blind man, and asks the 12 who He is. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Son of God; but Jesus warns them not to tell anyone. He then predicts His death, which marks the turning point in His ministry. He is now to head to Jerusalem and the cross. He preaches that those who follow Him must lose their lives to save them.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • Jesus came to earth to open our spiritual eyes to life in and through Him. (Mark 8:23b, 29)
  • Jesus is indeed the Messiah. (Mark 8:29)
  • Jesus had to suffer rejection and rejection, before rising from the grave to accomplish salvation. (Mark 8:31)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • What do you see with your spiritual eyes?
  • Who do you say that Jesus is?
  • Are you willing to walk the walk of the disciple of Jesus, deny yourself and take up your cross?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What is the purpose of Mark's including the story of the healing of the blind man?
  • Why did Jesus take the blind man aside to heal him? What was the level of the blind man's faith?
  • Why did Jesus ask the 12 what other thought about Him? Describe the answer of the 12 to Jesus' question.
  • Why did Peter answer the way He did when asked what the 12 thought about Jesus? Did Peter know what he was saying?
  • Why did Jesus now begin speaking of His upcoming rejection and death?
  • Why did Peter take Jesus aside to rebuke Him? And why did Jesus rebuke Peter in turn?
  • What is the life of the disciple of Jesus as described by Him? What is the choice each one has to make about Jesus?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • What is your spiritual eyesight like? What do you see when you read the Bible about Jesus?
  • What do others you know say about Jesus and who He is?
  • Who do you say that Jesus is and why?
  • Why did Jesus have to be rejected and die? What would that accomplish?
  • What did Peter and the other 11 not understand about Jesus and why didn't they understand?
  • How much like Peter and the 11 are we and people we know?
  • What is the essence of the life of the follower of Jesus? What is the choice facing you as you consider who Jesus is and how you will answer His question to you of who He is?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
In the prior passages, we've seen over and over the focus of Mark's gospel is the question, “Who is this Jesus?” His ministry, largely in the Galilee region to this point, has presented His message of the gospel, namely that one to repent and seek after the kingdom which is now at hand in the person of Jesus. He has performed miracle after miracle to show who He is. And His teaching is like none other that people have heard from their Jewish leaders and teachers – it is authoritative and challenging, and it cuts through the religious hypocrisy of many of the religious leaders. Indeed, Jesus' teaching is so confrontive of their religious dogma that these religious leaders want to kill Jesus to be rid of Him (Mark 3:6). So, there have been many different responses to Jesus' call: some have followed Him; some seem to have come only to be healed; some seem to be “ho-hum;” some just want Him to go away; some outright reject Him. The 12 He had called follow Him, but don't really understand Him and what He is all about. In the last notes, we left Jesus marveling at the lack of understanding of the 12, even after before their eyes He fed more than 4000 from only a few loaves of bread and several fish. To this point, Jesus has not fully revealed who He is, and in fact has instructed that the news about Himself not be spread (Mark 5:43; 7:36) so that people would not flock after Him for the wrong reasons, including that He would save them from Rome (i.e., be a political Messiah).

In the balance of chapter 8, Mark presents for us the turning point in Jesus' ministry. That turning point begins with a miracle in Bethsaida (a seaside village on the north end of the Sea of Galilee). When Jesus and the 12 came into Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Him and begged Jesus to touch Him, that is, to heal his blindness. Interestingly, Jesus then led the man out of the village to deal with him directly. Was that because He wanted to avoid generating crowds hungry to see another miracle? Was it because He wanted to minister to the man in a one-on-one fashion? It seems perhaps both motives were involved, with perhaps an emphasis on the latter as the man's faith (remember, faith or lack of faith is a common theme thread running through Mark) seems to have been small; after all, it was other people who brought him to Jesus, not the man bringing himself. Jesus is willing to heal the man, and does so in two steps so as to aid the man's faith. In the first step, Jesus put spit on the man's eyes and the man is able to see people but they look like walking trees to him (Mark 8:23) suggesting that the man had once been able to see. Then Jesus put His hands on the man's eyes and he is completely healed. Mark describes it thus: “he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (Mark 8:25) The miracle was total and effective. Jesus told the man to go home and not say anything. The question, “Do you see anything?” (Mark 8:23b) then becomes the key question in Mark's gospel.

The question is really a variation on the question, “Who do you say that I am?” As Jesus and the 12 proceeded to Caesarea Philippi, a city about 25 miles north of Bethsaida, located at the source of the Jordan River near the base of Mount Hermon, on the way Jesus focuses the question on the 12, asking them who others say He is. Their reply echoes what has already been spoken by the crowds (Mark 6:14 & 15), namely that He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or a prophet. We know John was a messenger and a forerunner to the Messiah, and people had witnessed his ministry. It was common belief among Jews that Elijah would return (Malachi 4:5). The lowest view of the three is the last, that Jesus is just another prophet. Note that no one is saying that Jesus is the Messiah; so the “crowd” of followers remains spiritually blind, the spiritual likeness of the blind man of Bethsaida. The crowd doesn't know Jesus. So Jesus asks the 12, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29a, emphasis added) The reply from Peter, speaking for all the 12, is referred to as the great confession; he says, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29b) Peter got it right; Jesus is indeed the Messiah. That word, “Christos” in Greek and “masiah” in Hebrew, means “anointed one” (cf.Daniel 9:25 & 26), and Jewish people generally believed that the anointed one from God, literally the Messiah, would be political (to be a King) and national (to be King of the Jews and set up the Jewish nation again and return it to its former greatness). So Peter's confession is accurate as far as it goes, but it it is incomplete as it does not reflect the full picture of the true Messiah. Therefore, Jesus told the 12 not to tell anyone who He was because their understanding was not complete and would be misleading as it would only feed the common conception of a political and national Messiah. The time was not yet for His declaration of who He really was, as that would come later in Jerusalem, where He is ultimately headed.

The turning point has been reached; Mark has told us that Jesus is the Messiah, and that the 12, who are the ones most equipped to know Jesus having traveled with Him day after day as His disciples, have had their spiritual eyes partially opened. Now, however, Jesus must teach them who the Messiah really is, and His message to them therefore changes starting at verse 31 when He begins to teach them that one, He must suffer many things, two He must be rejected by the religious authorities (the members of the Sanhedrin, the highest judicial council of the Jews), three, He must be killed, and four, He will rise again after three days (Mark 8:31). Why the word “must?” Because Jesus came to earth to accomplish the salvation purpose and mission of God, and that mission could only be accomplished by His death for the sin of man and His resurrection to secure eternal life for those who believe in Him. (cf. Isaiah 53:4-12; Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:35b, 77). Thus, His death is imperative and necessary. However, this idea was not part of the concept of Messiah, and was such an anathema that Peter took Jesus aside and (amazingly!) rebuked Him for saying that. Jesus, in turn, intentionally in the hearing of the other 11, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mark 8:33) Why this strong message? Because a Messiah who did not suffer death and then be raised again was not the true Messiah, and to think otherwise was no different than the temptation of Satan that Jesus not carry out His mission of salvation (cf. Matthew 4:5-10). In short, the common view of the Messiah as reflected by Peter and the 11 was man's view, not God's view (Mark 8:33b); they must be disavowed of that view.

Turning to the crowd, then, Jesus began to teach them the way of the follower of the Son of Man, the Messiah, and that way was complete submission of self to Him and the willingness to let self die. Anything less than that was insufficient; one must lose his or her life to gain life, and there is no middle ground, no having both the world and the kingdom. Indeed, Jesus says that to chose the world will bring judgment from the Son of Man when He returns in glory. Wow! Certainly Jesus' message has now changed. Note that Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man” as opposed to the title, Messiah. He conspicuously avoided the latter to side-step the misconception. The title, Son of Man, derives from the Scripture (our Old Testament), principally from Daniel 7:13 & 14 and refers to the Messiah as Sovereign King and Lord and the eschatological (end times) import of the title. Jesus was indeed the glorious King, but His path includes suffering, death and resurrection before He returns in glory. And the path of those who follow Him also includes loss, namely the loss of self and pride in order to be born again into eternal life. 

So who do you say that Jesus is? That is the question for every human being to answer. Through Mark's gospel, we learn that He is indeed the Messiah, the anointed one of God, and that He came to earth to bring about salvation in the appointed way at the appointed time. The way meant the way of suffering and death as a result of His rejection, but would lead to His resurrection as the first born of many. How one answers that question, we learn further, is a matter of eternal consequence. To follow Jesus is to give one's life to Him, lock, stock and barrel; death to self. To follow Jesus is to turn from the way of the world where one is at the center of one's world. There is no middle ground; rather there is a deciding point … will you follow Jesus or not. If you follow Jesus, there is life; if you do not follow Jesus, there will be rejection by the Son of Man. To follow Jesus requires faith in who He is and what He did to purchase life for those who would follow Him. Whether or not to follow Jesus is therefore theturning point in each individual's life. What is your decision? Do you choose life in Jesus including a life of discipleship under His Lordship, or do you choose death by way of self-centeredness and a world that excludes Jesus? That is the choice … that is your choice. What will it be for you?