Mark 8: Jesus’ Core Teaching

He called the crowd to him, with his disciples.  “If any of you want to come the way I’m going,” he said, “you must say no to your own selves, pick up your cross, and follow me.  Yes: if you want to save your life, you’ll lose it; but if you lose your life because of me and the message you’ll save it.  After all, what use is it to win the world and lose your life?” (8:34-36)

This one just has to be the passage highlighted today.  They are not comfortable or easy words, but this saying of Jesus is the most often stated saying in the gospels.  It appears six times in some form or another.  Not John 3:16.  This one about self-denial.  Interesting!

What caught your eye today?

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Mark 8: Jesus’ Core Teaching

  1. In verse 34, what the meaning of word “cross”. Is it cross necklace, or cross embed, something like charm, cross that being used to crucified.

    Actually, how Christian read Bible fully word to word? Is there any guidelines? I have become confuse.
    Do you read like a philosophy books, history, stories, science?

  2. You are doing really well. You have often figured out the right meanings, and when you are confused you ask questions. This is great! It may take me time, but I will be glad to answer those questions. Maybe others here will as well.

    The NT is filled with several genres of literature: history, stories, parables, morality stories, sayings, philosophy, letters, sermons, and highly symbolic/cryptic prophecies. Look at it like an anthology of several kinds of literature. There isn’t one right way to read the NT; you have to pay attention to the genre of the passage you are in.

    For instance, we are supposed to read the feeding of the 4000 as a realistic story, almost like history — this is what happened. Yesterday’s passage about food and uncleanliness was more like philosophy and you some times have to understand analogies metaphorically — it isn’t food that makes a person unclean it is the attitudes and actions that spring from our will or “heart” that alienate us from God. Today’s passage about taking up a cross is like that too. It is symbolic as well. Jesus literally carried a literal cross and literally died on it. We are supposed to follow his example by “putting to death” our own will or agenda or desires. We are supposed to make God’s will/agenda/desires more important. It is as if we are crucifying on a cross our will, killing it. And if we do this, everyday as we go through the day (say, by telling ourselves what we want today is not most important) we will have “lost” our lives but we will find freedom and real life that is better and more fulfilling. This would be a more philosophical passage that is highly symbolic. In Mark, imagine you are reading a memoir about a historical figure named Jesus who likes to say deep, philosophical things that are often symbolic or metaphorical.

    The cross in today’s passage is not a real cross. We don’t have to carry around an actual cross. We don’t have to wear a cross necklace, though some people do as a symbolic reminder because of this passage. But everyday, every devout Christian needs to wake up and say “Not my will be done, God, but yours.”

    Hope that helps a bit.

  3. Leanna

    As I realized while teaching this verse to my students, this statement begins with a conditional phrase and the conditional word “if.” There are many who want to be followers of Jesus, but they want to declare their own terms or their own degree of dedication. Jesus is fairly brutal here in his conditions and level of commitment. Such a simple statement with so much to learn from.

  4. Georgia Stafford

    I didn’t really understand the conversation happening between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in chapter 7. Can anyone give me insight?

  5. Trent Williamson

    I believe Jesus is saying that the “children” are the lost sheet of Israel or the Jews and the “dogs” are non-Jews (kind of a harsh depiction that I don’t fully understand either). Jesus’ point may have been that the gospel was to be given first to the Jews. The reply of the woman (settling for the “crumbs”) and Jesus’ reply seems to indicate that the gospel would be made available to ALL. Not a Bible scholar – but that is what the note in my Bible says 🙂

    Why did Jason have to choose the denial of self and carrying of the cross – come on man!! Given his concern for the Pharisees and teachers of the law in chapter 7 – this is a natural response. I was struck with the question “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?” Don’t we do that today? Aren’t we always wanting something else to substantiate our belief? With the empty tomb and evidence of Scripture – what else do we need????

  6. Trent Williamson

    SHEEP of Isael – not sheet – sorry!

    • Georgia Stafford

      Thanks for the response. That makes sense. 🙂

      There is a kid at school today that is literally walking down the halls carrying a wooden cross on his back. When I asked him if it was a school project, he responded, “No. I’ve just read some verses in the Bible that make me really want to remember what I am suppose to do.”

      What a blessing to read about taking up my cross and following Jesus the very morning I see a young man trying to remind himself to do the same thing! God is good!

  7. Georgia: That would be one of my students! Love that guy’s heart! : )

    Anytime I have read this passage with Jesus and the woman I have always wondered along with what Trent correctly describes if he isn’t also baiting her. Like he wants to see what kind of faith she has. How much she wants something from him. Will she wilt under pressure or show tenacity a true “cross-bearing” follower has to have? Clearly from the demoniac in chapter 5 who was likely a Gentile, Jesus is prepared to reach out to the “dogs” too.

    Tough words today, but as Leanna says, this is the brutal reality of what Jesus is calling us to. It is also where the blessing is.

  8. “Don’t you get it at all?” (8:18). “Do you still not get it?” (8:21). “He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it” (8:31).

    It is easy to wonder why the disciples don’t get it. Of course, we have the benefit of hindsight, in a sense. But I am reminded time and time again how often I don’t get it. Oh, I get it in my head or as a fact. But in the heat of the moment how I forget and act like I surely don’t get it.

  9. I fell asleep before posting yesterday, but verse 21 jumped out at me, too, Jason. I’m wondering what it is that I’m “not getting” these days.

  10. “Peter spoke up, saying, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!'” (8:29)
    Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, ‘Get out of my sight, Satan!'” (8:33)

    I don’t think I ever realized these two interactions are only a handful of verses away from each other, in the same chapter.

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