Mark 8.22-9.1

Title: Discipleship Defined

Text: 8.22-9.1

Introduction: I’ve told you before that Mark seems to love Triads? Well, observe this set of Triads: a triad of triads.

Cycle of Events
1. Passion Predictions8.319.30f10.32ff
2. Disciples demonstrate a lack of understanding8.329.33f10.35-41
3. True Discipleship8.34-389.35ff10.42-45

Here is an outline and flow to our text this morning: We begin our study with the healing of a blind man at Bethsaida (8:22–26). We’ve now returned to Jewish territory (22). Jesus begins healing the man in private (23), but the man isn’t fully healed (24). So, Jesus continues healing the man. His sight is completely restored (25). Jesus sends him on his way but tells him not to re-enter the village – a sign to keep this miracle a secret (26).

      The Disciples then travel north with Jesus to Caesarea Philippi. (27) While on their Journey, Jesus asks them who people say Jesus is. They give various answers; however, Peter makes the famous declaration: You are the Christ! This is the home of the pagan worship of Pan (½ goat; ½ man); This is where the river Styx entered the underworld (hell); Matthew records the ‘gates of hell’.

      Something very interesting occurs here. Just after Peter makes his most famous declaration, he now commits his biggest faux pas. Jesus begins to clearly teach what the Scriptures have taught all along: that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by religious leaders, who will kill him. But, after three days, he will rise again. (31-32a). For some reason, Peter doesn’t like this negative talk from the master. So, he takes him aside and rebukes him. But, Jesus, seeing his disciples are watching, openly rebukes Peter. (32b-33).

      Jesus then calls the crowd to him and shares with them the high cost of following Christ. The Requirements of Discipleship (8:34–9:1) are listed simply as “Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow.” Then, Jesus defines this task in oxymorons:1) Save your life and lose it. Lose your life and save it; 2) Profit and gain, yet forfeit; 3) Give and return; 4) Shame vs. Glory

Basically, here is how the Scripture flows in Outline form:

  1. An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (8.22-26).
  2. An Example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (8.27-33).
  3. The Reality of Discipleship: you must be like Christ! (8.34-9.1)

Transition: let’s begin with the illustration we finished up with last week.

I. An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (22-26)

exp.: As a way of review, I think this story fits our storyline; the miracle is completed in two stages:

  • 8.23b: and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
  • 8.25: 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

This progression illustrates for us the slow, progressive coming to faith the disciples’ experience; and, especially in today’s passage, Peter’s journey.

app.: Jesus demonstrates that He is The Messiah through the healing of the blind man. He is the answer to the prophecy found in Isaiah 35.5-6. He concludes with the command to keep the Messianic secret: Don’t even enter the village.

t.s.: Mark then gives us an example of Peter’s progression.

II. An example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (27-33)

exp.: I love this: it’s like a snapshot of Peter’s life at this moment… where he lets us see into a certain time frame in Peter’s journey; rd 27a; where are they headed toward? Caesarea Philippi.

Let me digress for a moment – when traveling in Israel back in 2014, we went to Caesarea Philippi. This is the sight of Banias Springs the second tributary of the Jordan. It is actually “Panias” but Arabs cannot say a P and there is no P in Arabic, thus they called it Banias. It is named Panias because they would worship their many gods here (Hence, the word Pan). At the start of this area is where the spring used to be – you can see from the picture that the water carved out a little cave. At the mouth of this spring, the people who worshiped their many gods believed was the entrance to the underworld, Hades, hell. The river that flows through Hades is the river Styx.

Remember that, we’ll come back to that. For now, they’re on their way and Jesus asks them a simple question: who do people say that I am? This is the 2nd time we’ve seen this: 6.14;

6.14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

8.27 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?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

So, the rumor mill is the same; however, Christ wants them to know that he isn’t any of those men. And so he asks them, personally in v 29: “But who do you say that I am?”

  • It appears at first that Peter understands who Jesus is: Q.: Who do you say I am? A.: You are the Christ or Messiah. That’s huge! So, it appears that Peter gets it. He understands.

Let’s stop for a second and add an application: Just because someone says the right words, doesn’t mean they understand what they’re saying. Let that resonate!

Matthew 16, records this same story and expounds on it quite a bit. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This place, where they are, is the place these people believe to be the gates to the underworld. Do you see that connection?

Transition: we have the Messianic Secret again in v 30 where he charges them to tell no one. What Peter has said is true, but his time has not yet come. And then, in v 31…

  • Jesus gives a clear picture of the Messiah in his prediction of the passion.

app.: rd v 31-32b; So, just to be sure you understand when you say I’m the Messiah – this is what the Messiah looks like:

– Suffering: Lit.: It is necessary that the Son of Man will suffer much (the word things doesn’t appear in the Gk)

– Rejection: will come by the religious leaders;

– Death: he will be killed

– Resurrection: after 3 days, he will rise again

That’s the Gospel! That’s the whole reason Christ has come! That is the job of the Messiah. That is how he will save his people from their sins – he will pay the penalty for them. Thank you, Mark, for v 32a…

So to review: Jesus asks who they think he is. Peter appears to get it: You the promised Messiah! Jesus says, yes, wonderful. Let me let you in on more of what the Messiah has come to do. He will suffer and be rejected. He will die, and he will rise again.

Transition: and this leads us to the third step in his progression… rd 32b-33

  • It appears that Peter doesn’t understand at all who Jesus is at all.

exp.: Peter makes one of the most beautiful declarations in Scripture! He thinks he knows who Jesus is! It’s kind of like Jesus says Do you know who I am. Peter says: Yes, I do. And Jesus says: uh, no, you don’t.

This is a cycle we’ll see repeated and climax at the end of this cycle of triads.

  • Jesus asks: What do you know or what can you do?
  • Someone answers: I know, or, I can…
  • Jesus basically says: No, you don’t or No, you can’t

Transition: to be sure, Jesus now outlines what it means to be like him… what it means to be a true disciple.

III. The Reality of Discipleship (8.34-9.1)

exp.: rd v 34: Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. You’ve probably noted before that Jesus commands those individuals listening to take up each one’s own cross, but they don’t have the context of Jesus doing the same thing. You and I do! Still, I wonder, if he’s not giving them context here. What I mean is: He just told them he was going to suffer, be rejected, and die. I’m wondering if that is the context for this statement: I’m going to suffer, be rejected, and die. And, if you want to follow me, you’ve got to do the same thing as me (i.e.: take up your cross). You’re going to have to suffer and be rejected and die to yourself on your cross.

Jesus then presents or defines this reality, this task of discipleship with a set of oxymorons: 

1) Save and loose

2) Profit, gain, and forfeit;

  3) Give and return;

4) Shame and Glory

Rd v 35-38;

app.: One author wrote: Jesus presents the choice of following him through a series of dichotomous positions.

t.s.: I wish I could talk like that!

Conclusion: Jesus has just defined for us who the Messiah is and what the Messiah will do. He is not one who comes for conquests but through suffering and rejection. He will die. The good news is, three days later he will rise again. He then turns to the crowd and he speaks to individuals. This is important, don’t miss this – he doesn’t speak to the crowd, but rather individuals in the crowd: If someone wants to follow me, you (sg) must

(1) Deny yourself (reject): That means you’re no longer calling the shots for your life. You surrender what you want to what Jesus wants. And when selfishness rears its ugly head, you reject or deny yourself (daily) and follow after Christ.

(2) Take up your own cross (lift it up and carry it); Have you ever thought about this? What do you do with a cross? You don’t ride them – they don’t take you anywhere? You don’t give them to other people – Jesus makes that clear with the relative personal pronoun he uses. What do you do with a cross? You carry it until you lay it down and climb upon it to die.

(3) Follow him; The paradox of the Christian faith is that by dying to ourselves and following God’s way, we inherit true life. We save it when we lose it. We truly profit and gain it, when we forfeit it.


  1. Jesus wants to clarify misperceptions about him. He is the promised Messiah!
    1. He is not Elijah, John the Baptist or one of the prophets.
    2. He is not a military or political ruler.
    3. He would suffer and be rejected and die on a cross to pay the penalty for sins.
  2. Jesus demonstrates true Christian leadership through sacrifice and service.
  3. And, he calls us to be like him.


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Filed under Calling, Christian Living, Faith, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

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