On Sunday, April 3, it was my privilege to preach Mark 8 at Kenwood Baptist Church, “The Turn to Jerusalem.” To this point in Mark Jesus has been ministering in Jerusalem (Mark 1–7), but after Peter’s confession here in Mark 8, he sets his face toward Jerusalem and teaches his disciples what it means to follow him through chapter 10. Then Jesus will be in Jerusalem throughout Mark 11–16.
Maybe you’re familiar with the way Peter responded when Jesus predicted his death, but can you put yourself in Peter’s shoes? Raised on the hope that the promises to David in the Old Testament would be realized, that a king would arise from the line of David, that God would give him the victory, that he would reign from the river to the ends of the earth, that Israel would be delivered, Jerusalem exalted, nations streaming to Zion to learn Yahweh’s law, desert blooming like Eden, justice for the downtrodden, protection for the orphan and widow, those filthy Romans driven out of the holy land, and that imposter Herod receiving his due. Then not only are hopes realized as the line of David is seen to be intact, with a credible heir arising, this credible heir is a prophet and more: he knows the Torah, he communes with the Lord, he teaches with authority, the unclean spirits obey and flee, the sick are healed, and on top of all that, he starts blowing categories: first he commands the elements and they obey, calming a storm by the power of his voice, then he raises a little girl from the dead, feeds a multitude, and of all things, walks on water. You know he’s from the line of David. You’ve seen the mighty works. You are forced to conclude that even though the establishment is rejecting him, he has to be the Messiah.
How would you respond if he told you he was going to be killed.
You’ve seen the Romans kill people. It’s not the kind of thing people come back from. You’ve never seen anyone survive it. So yeah you heard him say he would rise from the dead, but do you have any precedent for that? Wouldn’t you be expecting triumph not defeat?
I know that you can put yourself in Peter’s shoes, because I know what we all expect to result from the gospel and our attempts to advance it. We expect people to understand that we’re bringing them good news. We expect people to see how reasonable the truth of what we believe is. We expect people to understand that we’re trying to do what’s good for them not what’s bad for them. We expect people to respond positively to us, and we expect success. We expect our churches to grow, our ministries to succeed, God’s name to be exalted in our lives, and people to be grateful for all the good that is coming about as a result of the gospel.
If you’d like to hear my attempt to exposit Mark 8, make these underlined words start talking.