Mark 8:22-10:52

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Home > The New Testament > Mark > Chapters 8b-10
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Summary

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Discussion

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Mark 8b-10: Major themes: Jesus as the Christ, and the reader as a disciple

  • In Mark's account of Christ's ministry up to this point, little has happened that could not also be true of a great prophet (excepting the confessions of the unclean spirits that Jesus commands to be silent). Jesus has taught and has performed miracles. But great prophets such as Moses and Elijah also did these things. Here in this transition section of Chapters 8b-10, Mark tells us in clear terms that Jesus is not just a great prophet, but is in fact the "Christ," THE anointed one.
Also in Mark's account of Christ's ministry up to this point, Jesus's teachings have focused on eliminating the many rules that the scribes had imposed upon the people that missed the spirit of the Law of Moses, such as forbidding healing on the Sabbath. But here in this group of chapters Jesus makes several clear statements about the cost of discipleship. This begins with the statement to take up one's cross, and continues with teachings about persecution, wealth, humility and service.
Mark's emphasis on these two themes in Chapters 8b-10, absent from earlier chapters, sets this section apart from what has gone before and serves as a transition that prepares the reader to understand and appreciate what will follow during Passion Week.
This group of chapters both begins and ends with the blind receiving their sight. In Mark, people routinely fail to understand what they see. But in this group of chapters Mark will make it so clear that his readers cannot fail to see.
Next comes Peter's confession. Jesus asks "Who do men say that I am?" The answer is that people think Jesus is one or another of the great prophets. But Jesus than asks "But whom do YE say that I am?" and Peter responds with the answer "Thou art the Christ."
Mark then relates three separate occasion on which Jesus explained to his disciples what it meant for him to the Christ. First, it meant that he would need to go to Jerusalem and die. Second, it meant that he was not a great hero who was to be served, but was in fact a humble servant of all.
Mark also explains, for the first time in these chapters, that there is a cost associated with being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. The rich young man was required to sacrifice his wealth. James and John were required to sacrifice their ambition. And Jesus would sacrifice his life.
Once we reach the end of this section, we are ready to under the events of Passion Week, in which the Jews will destroyed for rejecting not merely a great prophet, but the son of God, and in which Jesus will do things that are beyond the ability of a mere prophet and can only be accomplished by the Christ, namely the atonement and resurrection. Those events of Passion Week make much less sense, or none at all, if the reader skips from the middle of Chapter 8 directly the triumphal entry in Chapter 11.

Mark 8:22-26: Healing a blind man in Bethsaida

Mark 8:27-30: Peter's confession

  • Mark 8:29: Christ. In verse 30 (and elsewhere in the New Testament), the Greek word for "Christ" (christos) means "messiah" or "anointed one."
The word 'Christ' is used to refer to Jesus only five times in the gospel of Mark. So use of the term here is significant. The word appears in the opening verse of the gospel, but then does not appear again until here with Peter's confession in Verse 8:29. Jesus affirms this identity here in these chapters in Verse 9:41 with his explanation "... because ye belong to Christ." The term 'Christ' is then again used to specifically refer to Jesus twice more in his trial before the high priest (14:61) and while he is on the cross (15:32). (The term also appears four times in a non-specific manner in [Verse 12:35 and in the Olivet Discourse in [Verse 13:6, 21-22).
A major theme in Mark is the failure to understand who Jesus is. This is the verse in which Mark sets aside any misunderstanding about whether Jesus is the Christ. And this verse appears at the beginning of Chapters 8b-10 in which mark also explains what it means for Jesus to be the Christ, and what it means for us to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

Mark 8:31-9:1: Jesus foretells his death #1; discipleship is sacrifice

  • Mark 8:34: Deny. The Greek word translated as "deny" (aparneomai) in verse 34 may be stronger than the translation suggests. It is the same word used in places such as Mark 14:30ff, where Peter acts as if he doesn't even know about Jesus.
  • Mark 8:36: Man. The word translated as "man" in verse 36 is anthropos, which includes females.

Mark 9:2-13: Mount of Transfiguration

  • Mark 9:2: Transfigured. The Greek word translated as "transfigured" is metamorphoo (a cousin of the English word "metamorphosis"), which means to change to another form. The word is rare in the New Testament.
  • Mark 9:3: White. The phrase "so as no fuller on earth can white them" is given in modern translations as "whiter than any bleach on earth could make them" or something similar.
  • Mark 9:4: JST. Verse 4 appears in the Joseph Translation thusly: "And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses; and they were talking with Jesus."
  • Mark 9:4: Elijah. Elias is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Elijah.
  • Mark 9:13. Verse 13 is given in the Joseph Smith Translation thusly: "Again I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, but they have done unto him whatsoever they listed; and even as it is written of him; and he bore record of me, and they received him not. Verily this was Elias."

Mark 9:14-29: Casting out an unclean spirit

  • Mark 9:19. Jesus in verse 19 is growing increasingly frustrated. He has performed miracle after miracle, and yet people still don't believe.
  • Mark 9:23: Faith and healing. The theme that healing can come for those who believe has been dominant throughout much of the gospel of Mark to this point. In verse 23, Jesus makes the principle explicit: "all things" are possible for those who believe.
  • Mark 9:28. Verse 9:28 suggests that the disciples, not just Jesus, have been healing people. Their inability to heal the boy in this case apparently wasn't a matter of lack of faith, but a lack of prayer.
  • Mark 9:29: Fasting. Not all Greek manuscripts include the phrase for "and fasting" in verse 29.

Mark 9:30-37: Jesus fortells his death #2; discipleship is humble service

  • Mark 9:34. The disciples' silence in verse 34 suggests that they knew Jesus wouldn't approve of them arguing over who would be the greatest.

Mark 9:38-41: He that is not against us is for us

  • Mark 9:40: Choosing sides. Verse 40 (which says, in essence, that those not against Jesus are on his side) and Matthew 12:30 (which says that those who are not for Jesus are against him) seem like they may be contradictory. But an examination of the context of these two verses indicates that they may be complementary.
One reason we may tend to see the verses as contradictory is because when we say someone is "not for" or "not against" us, we tend to think of people who are more or less neutral. But Jesus in neither case appears to be talking about people who are neutral. In Matthew, the verse comes just before verses where Jesus is talking about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and just after verses where people were attributing Jesus' miracles to Beelzebub. These people weren't just "not for" Jesus; they were antagonistic to his ministry.
In the story in Mark, however, the people being discussed aren't opposing Jesus. They're healing people in his name, apparently without being given authority to do so. There is no indication in Mark that they are doing this in order to harm Jesus' ministry. In fact, it is possible that they were sincere and may have even believed they were doing the work that Jesus wanted them to do. At the very least, according to Jesus' words, they were people that were doing good things and would soon be unable to speak against Jesus. Again, these people in being "not against" Jesus weren't neutral; at the very least, they were leaning toward Jesus and thus could be counted on his side.
For modern Latter-day saints, this passage can serve as a lesson that we shouldn't reject out of hand other Christians who do good things, even heal people, even though they haven't been given direct authority. It is clear from this passage that there are people outside of the church who nevertheless help the mission of Christ and will receive their reward for doing so.

Mark 9:42: Offending little ones

Mark 9:43-50: Cost of discipleship

  • Mark 9:43, 45, 47: Hell. The Greek word for "hell" in verses 43, 45 and 47 is gehenna. The word originally referred to a valley where garbage was burned.
  • Mark 9:48. Not all the Greek manuscripts include verse 48.

Mark 10:1-12: Marriage and divorce

  • Mark 10:2. The Greek verb translated as "tempting" (peirazo) in verse 2 refers not to tempting someone to do evil, but to testing someone, in this case to see if he will give the right answer.

Mark 10:13-16: Receiving heaven as a little child

Mark 10:17-31: The rich young man and wealth

  • Mark 10:25: Pluck out thine eye. Over the centuries, some people have attempted to soften the words of Jesus in verse 25. Some have said that the reference is to the Needle's Eye, an especially tight passageway in Jerusalem; however, there is no evidence that such a passageway existed at the time of Jesus. Furthermore, the disciples' response to Jesus indicates that they understood Jesus to mean exactly what he was saying, and Jesus himself said in verse 27 that for people getting saved is indeed impossible. The point here is that salvation is possible only through God.
  • Mark 10:27: Men. The Greek word translated as "men" in verse 27 is anthropos, which includes women.
  • Mark 10:27: JST. Verse 27 in rendered in the Joseph Smith Translation thusly: "And Jesus, looking upon them, said, With men that trust in riches, it is impossible; but not impossible with men who trust in God and leave all for my sake, for with such all these things are possible."

Mark 10:32-45: Jesus foretells his death #3; discipleship is humble service

  • Mark 10:44: Servant. The Greek word doulos, translated as "servant" in verse 44, is given in some modern translations as "slave," "bondman" or "bondservant." It suggests someone who is totally subject to the wishes of another.
  • Mark 10:45: Ransom. The Greek word lutron, translated in verse 45 as "ransom," appears in the New Testament only here and in a parallel passage in Matthew 20:28. It refers to the price paid to redeem a slave or someone held captive.

Mark 10:46-52: Healing blind Bartimaeus

  • Mark 10:52: Faith and healings. As in previous healings in the gospel of Mark, Jesus connects the healing of the blind man directly with the faith he has shown.

Unanswered questions

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Prompts for life application

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Prompts for further study

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  • Mark 8:22-26. Why does it take two steps to completely restore the man's sight?
  • Mark 8:33. Why does Jesus use such strong language to rebuke Peter?
  • Mark 9:2-13. If Elias here is understood to refer to John the Baptists per the Joseph Smith Translation and this is not an improper use of the term "Elias", then what strong reasons do we have to presume that other accounts of this event are using the word Elias to refer to Elijah? What strong reasons do we have to presume that Elijah was even here?
  • Mark 9:13. When Jesus says (verse 13) that Elias already has come, what is he referring to? The Transfiguration? John the Baptist?
  • Mark 9:13. What connection does this selection have to do, if anything, with D&C 110, where Elijah and Elias are presented as separate people?
  • Mark 10:9. According to this passage, when is divorce wrong?
  • Mark 10:13-16. What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God "as a little child"?
  • Mark 10:17. The rich man asked what he could do to inherit eternal life. In his answer, Jesus told him what he could do to have treasure in heaven (verse 21). Are these the same thing?
  • Mark 10:21. When Christ says take up the cross, what does that phrase mean to this young man when the Savior had not yet been crucified?

Resources

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  • Mark 9:28: Prayer and fasting. See this post at the FPR blog for some discussion of this verse (why Jesus says prayer and fasting is required, but doesn't pray or fast himself).
  • Mark 10:34-35: Secret Gospel of Mark insertion. See this article for an insertion between these verses from the so-called "Secret Gospel of Mark."

Notes

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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