Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,5. The Miraculous Feeding of Four Thousand. MARK 8:1–9
(Parallel: Matt. 15:32–39.)
1In those days the multitude being very great,1 and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me2 three days, and have nothing to eat; 3And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6And he commanded3 the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.4 8So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left, seven baskets. 9And they that had eaten5 were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallels in Matthew.—Mark’s second miraculous feeding, with the following events, stands in the same connection as Matthew’s with the mountain travels of our Lord. There is not in the slightest particular a difference between Matthew and Mark. The representations of the second feeding are more than ordinarily alike in both: the beginning and the end, especially, are essentially the same.
Mark 8:7. And he blessed and commanded to set them also.—The Evangelist distinguishes the thanksgiving over the fish as a particular act, with the word εὐλογήσας, while concerning the bread he used εὐχαριστήσας. Both acts of devotion are to be regarded as benedictions of the food. But the prayer of praise (εὐλογεῖν) is related to the prayer of thanksgiving, as praise is related to thanks: it is the same thing carried to its higher pitch. That the thanksgiving becomes here blessing, characterizes the second act of the feeding, the festival anticipatory of the great feast; and it is all the more sublime as being pronounced over the ἰχθύδια ὀλίγα. The following Romanist distinction (Reischl) is without foundation: “Thanksgiving (eucharist) Jesus presents as man (and High-Priest) to the Father; but He Himself, as Lord and God, distributes the blessing of omnipotence.”
Mark 8:8. Seven baskets.—Comp. the explanations on Matthew.
Mark 8:9. About four thousand men.—Matthew adds: besides women and children.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallel passage in Matthew.—The divine side of the second miraculous feeding is presented all the more expressly and clearly by the circumstance, that in the present instance the multitudes of the people were more alien, the scene of it was a place more desolate and remote from human habitation, the excitement of the people more intense; not to mention that Christ had just returned from an extended and fatiguing journey. As it respects the human side of the miracle, and its relation to the measure of faith, we cannot fail to observe the circumstance that a more abundant provision of food is made for a smaller number of the fed. As it regards the difference between the fragments gathered up in the two miracles respectively, we have to notice the distinction between σπυρίδες and κόφινοι: the former seem to have been vessels of larger capacity.
2. STARKE:—Σπλαγχνίζεσθαι means such a feeling of compassion as not only moves the mind, but causes a physical emotion—the rush of blood, yearning of the bowels, &c.—likewise. The word is used several times concerning our Saviour by the three Evangelists. The greater the love of Jesus was, the more susceptible was His sacred humanity of sympathy.
3. The first miraculous feeding took place when the malignity of Herod occasioned the Lord’s departure from Galilee; the second, after He had retired from Galilee before the hierarchical and pharisaic party. Both times, as driven away, and as a refugee, He took upon Himself, forgetting His own sorrow, the needs of all the people.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on Matthew.—Christ’s compassion towards the people was a compassion for their want of bread.—The Lord’s resting-place after long travelling.—Christ does not let His people depart without food.—Where Christ is in the midst, the multitude never go away unfed.—The rebuke contained in the example of the people, who waited on Christ three days, though they had nothing given them to eat.—The impotence of the disciples, and the Lord’s provident care.—Christ’s thanksgiving becomes blessing, whilst the provision is diminishing.—Christ’s royal law for the table.—The second miraculous feeding seemingly less, but in fact more, wonderful than the first. 1. Seemingly less; there was more provision, and a smaller number. 2. Really greater: a. in regard to the Lord (returning from long journey and much labor); b. in regard to the despondency of the disciples; c. in regard to the foreign elements of which the mass of this mountain-people was made up (probably in part Gentiles).—Wells are made, as by the Lord, so by the pilgrims of Zion, passing through the valley of banishment, Ps. 84—The Lord’s heavenly peace in His earthly need: He is Himself as a refugee in great straits, and yet feeds with compassion a host of thousands. 1. The peace of God in the forgetfulness of His own distress. 2. The self-renouncing love of others in this forgetfulness.—To-day He gives the people a feast; to-morrow all sorrows await Him.
STARKE:—True brotherly love does not look so much at the worthiness of the person as at his need and misery.—Believers may sometimes fall, even though Jesus be near, into temporal difficulties and need; but they do not and cannot come to harm or perish, Rom. 8:35–39.—The Lord knows our need earlier and better than our complaints can tell Him.—OSIANDER:—How different from these people are some Christians amongst us, who can scarcely tarry one hour with Christ’s servants, hearing the divine word!—Preachers should care not only for the souls, but also for the bodies, of their hearers.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—When we truly love Jesus, we think little of the length or hardship of the way; we care nothing for want and weariness; but wait with Him, and prefer the kingdom of God to all other things.—Our unbelieving heart hangs on the means, and will believe nothing that it does not see, Matt. 6:25–30.—We should thank God for everything, even for our scanty provision; He is bound to us for nothing.—(The breaking of bread.) When God puts anything into our hands, we should not keep it unbroken for ourselves alone, but break and dispense abundantly to others.—CANSTEIN:—Preachers should dispense the food of God’s word among the people; but they should give to the multitude nothing which God has not first put in their mouth and in their heart.—The meek shall eat and be satisfied, Ps. 22:26.—The gifts of God satisfy the heart.—In every fragment there is God’s blessing: therefore it is right to gather up the fragments.—With God it is all the same whether there be little or much.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—He kept them near Him, and distributed spiritual gifts; nor did He remember their earthly need until He had found that they were filled with desires that extended much further. And this is the divine order, in this connection, between the spiritual and the temporal. All earthly things, so far as they go beyond necessity, have value only so far as they are connected with the spiritual.
HEUBNER:—Perseverance in hearing the word of God.—The design of Providence in letting us encounter earthly need.—Have we sought diligently, and first of all, heavenly things?—Trust in God when the season of scarcity comes.—The prevenient providence of God, and His anticipating care.—The Christian’s attention to his neighbor’s need.—God can bring help by small means.—Giving is better than receiving.—Christ’s miracle as a figure of the miracle of divine sustentation.—Jesus as Householder.—The Christian householder after the pattern of Jesus: 1. Watchfulness, and attention to all needs; 2. love and sympathy for the distress of each; 3. trust in God when the question is, Whence shall we get? (Do the best: God will do the rest in His own way); 4. spiritual care of all who belong to Him.—How our partaking of food may be sanctified.—RAMBACH:—How may the Christian give God His honor in the enjoyment of his daily food?—MARHEINEKE:—The Christian should always see a higher significance in the means of his daily sustentation.—HARMS:—Instruction concerning table-worship.—DIETSCH:—The miracle in our nourishment.—HUFFELL:—The divine blessing on our food.—MEHLISS:—The glorifying of God in the care of His creatures.—REINHARD:—The connection between the necessity of nourishment in order to the sustentation of our bodies, and the growth and nourishment of our souls.—VALERIUS HERBERGER:—How should the guests at God’s table comport themselves?—HEUBNER:—Jesus the people’s holy Friend.—BURK:—Jesus Christ supplies all our need out of His riches in glory.—STIER:—The miraculous blessing of God’s power, as shown, 1. in the domain of nature, and 2. in the kingdom of grace.—ULBER:—The meal blessed by prayer.—The compassionate heart of Jesus moaning over all our misery.—COUARD:—Reproof of the prevalent complaint over hard times.—REINHARD:—Christian benevolence at a time of general need.—BAUER:—When Christ’s blessing rests on anything, it becomes infinitely more than it was in the hands of men.
Mark 8:1.—Instead of παμπόλλου, B., D., G., L., M., Δ., [Vulgate, Coptic, Gothic, Lachmann, Tischendorf,] read πάλιν πολλοῦ.—The ὁ ’Ιησοῦς is probably an explanatory interpolation.
Mark 8:2.—Μοι is wanting in B., D., [Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.]
Mark 8:6.—B., D., L., Δ., [Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer:] παραγγέλλει.
Mark 8:7.—Καὶ εὐλογήσας αὔτὰ εἶπεν καὶ ταῦτα παρατιθέναι. B., L., Δ., [Meyer.]
Mark 8:9.—οὶ φαγόντες wanting in B., L., Δ., [Tischendorf, Meyer;] following Mark 6:44.
And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.EIGHTH SECTION
THE DECISIVE CONFLICT OF JESUS WITH THE PHARISEES IN GALILEE, AND HIS RETURN TO THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE SEA. PREPARATIONS FOR THE NEW CHURCH
1. Return to the Galilean Shore. Conflict; Return; the Leaven of the Pharisees and the Leaven of Herod. MARK 8:10–21
(Parallel: Matt. 16:1–12)
10 And straightway lie entered into a [the] ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13And he left them, and entering into the 14ship again,6 departed to the other side. Now [And] the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16And they reasoned among themselves, saying,7 It is because we have no bread. 17And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye because ye have no bread? perceive ye not, neither understand? have ye your heart yet8 hardened? 18Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember, 19When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21And he said unto them, How9 is it that ye do not understand?
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on Matthew.—What follows is here closely and certainly connected with the preceding; and in this Matthew and Mark concur, as also in the essentials of the whole. Mark passes over the rebuke of Christ in relation to the Pharisees’ knowledge of the weather, and also the sign of Jonas. On the other hand, he mentions the Lord’s deep sighing. He notices the circumstance that the disciples had with them in the ship one loaf. Instead of the leaven of the Sadducees, he has the leaven of Herod; and he gives most keenly the Lord’s rebuke of the unbelief of the disciples.
Mark 8:10. Dalmanutha was a small place, not otherwise known; it lay probably in the district of Magdala, where, according to Matthew, Jesus landed. Robinson (3:514) leaves it undecided whether or not the present village of Delhemija is its modern representative. The specifications of locality by the two Evangelists, respectively, are not to be referred to any hypothesis of earlier and later accounts: Matthew’s narrative has a more general cast, and Mark’s a more special, in these respects. The landing was manifestly in a desert and unfrequented place; and the reason of this was, that the Galilean party of Pharisees were on the alert to seize Jesus, in order to bring Him under a judicical process; for this purpose having many spies abroad. The first illustration of this is found in Mark 2:6; the second, Mark 3:22; the third (in connection with Mark 6:29–31), Mark 7:1. That allegation touching neglect of purifyings, which the Pharisees, in connection with the scribes from Jerusalem, made against Him, is carried out here into its last issues.
Mark 8:11. And the Pharisees came forth.—Meyer: “Out of their dwellings in that country.” People generally come out of their dwellings; but these men came forth as spies out of a hiding-place; and their coming was proof that the most extreme care as to the circumstances of the landing of Jesus, in a quiet place and in the dead of night, could no longer protect the Lord from their eyes (see on Matthew and Leben Jesu, 2:875). On the western side of the sea there might be, here and there, rich mansions, belonging to Herodian courtiers, which were well adapted to be loopholes of observance for the political and hierarchical party. According to Matt. 16:1, 2, the Sadducees were leagued with them. The act, therefore, was not merely an act of the Pharisaic school, but the act of the priests and politicians. Mark merges the Sadducees in the Pharisees; for they hypocritically played the Pharisee, inasmuch as they demanded a sign from heaven, although they believed in no such thing.—And began.—They had made their arrangements for a decisive contest, which began with the demand of the sign from heaven. For this sign, see on Matthew, p. 287.
Sighed deeply in His spirit.—Comp. Mark 7:34. He sighed so deeply, not merely in general sorrow for the hardened unbelief of these men, but also in the feeling that the decisive crisis of severance from the predominant party had come. For the demand of a sign from heaven was a demand that He should, as the Messiah of their expectation, accredit Himself by a great miracle; thus it was fundamentally similar to the temptation in the wilderness, which He had repelled and overcome. But His deep sigh also signifies here the holding in of His judicial power, the silent resolution to enter upon the path of tribulation. Hence the refusal of the sign is immediate, and in the form of an affirmation most strongly uttered. It is to be observed that, the article being wanting, the nature of the sign from heaven is left free to Him: He was to perform a sign from heaven, which should be acknowledged as the sign from heaven.
Mark 8:15. And the leaven of Herod.—See on Matthew; and for the combination of Pharisees and Herodians, compare the notes on Mark 3:6. The one passage depends on the other; and it is observable how Mark both times gives marked prominence to this hypocritical and malignant combination of extreme parties. Meyer concludes from Matt. 14:2 that Herod was no Sadducee. But that passage must not be pressed too far. Herod certainly coincided with the anti-scriptural, anti-Messianic, Hellenizing universalism of the Sadducees, although he did not adhere to their party in its dogmatic views and coloring. Thus we have here only two aspects of the same idea. The Jewish dependence upon traditions and human ordinances, and the Jewish free-thinking, form in their respective principles the two kinds of leaven which the disciples were to guard against. Compare on Matthew.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallel in Matthew.—The debasing effects of party spirit. The Sadducees must here submit to the Pharisees, and be merged in them.
2. As it regards the desired sign from heaven, it is to be observed further: 1. As they asked for a sign from heaven, they demanded the decisively attesting sign expected from heaven. 2. The consequence of this authentication would have been, that Christ must have come forward as a Messiah in their sense. Hence it is said that they tempted Him. The demand of a sign from heaven was like the temptation in the wilderness. The Lord had hitherto, since that time, escaped any such demand. If He now refused it, His death was certain. 3. The demand was so far not absolutely hostile, as they were still disposed to accept Christ, if He would adapt Himself to their views, and become a party instrument for their purposes. (See on Matthew.) 4. The sign from heaven which Christ denied to the Pharisees, stood in close relation with the sign of Jonas. The denial of the one was the announcement of the other. 5. What He denied to the Pharisees, He provided soon afterwards for the three chosen disciples on the Mount: the heavenly sign of His transfiguration.
3. The sighs of Jesus.—The Lord’s sigh (Mark 7:34) was the sigh of self-devoting mercy to the world; His deep sigh (Mark 8:12) was the restraint and holding back of His judicial power over the world, under the holy resolution to suffer for it. The sigh of the Lion of Judah over the hardening of His enemies: the prophecy of His path of suffering, but also the prophecy of the world’s judgment. The groaning of His spirit was, 1. a sighing from the depths of His being, 2. in the all-embracing glance of His consciousness over the path of His own suffering, and the path of the world’s wretchedness.
4. The return of Jesus.—Not without a plan, but as the result of His last experience, Jesus now returns back to the eastern bank. It is clear to His consciousness that He must now go up to confront His death. He therefore needed solitude, that He might regulate the process of His departure. And to this there was necessary, 1. the confirmation of the disciples in faith for the establishment of the new Church, and 2. the provision that His death should take place at the right time and in the right way.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on Matthew.—The Pharisees perfect spies on all our Lord’s ways.—The Lord cannot escape the Pharisees, and therefore the Pharisees cannot escape the Lord.—The demand of a sign from heaven: the tempting crisis that our Lord foresaw in the wilderness.—The confusion of the disciples, occasioned by this decisive conflict (and shown in the forgetting of bread, and anxiety about it), as opposed to the divine repose of the Lord: a prelude of their confusion on the eve of the Passion.—The great decisive No of the Lord.—The Lord’s deep sigh in its great significance: 1. A. silent and yet decisive sign of His conflict and of His victory; 2. an unuttered word, which contains a world of divine words; 3. a fulfilment of the primitive prophecy concerning the breach between the external and the spiritual Israel; 4. a prophecy which stretches forward to the cross and the final judgment.—The infinite meaning of this sigh of Christ: 1. As a breathing forth of the divine patience over the visible world (Omnipotence restraining itself in love and wisdom, when dealing with the enmity of the free will of the world); 2. a collective expression of all the sufferings and of all the patience of Christ; 3. a declaration of all the incarnate sorrow and endurance of the Lord in His Church.—The significance of sighs: 1. In the creature (Rom. 8:22); 2. in humanity, and in the kingdom of God (Rom. 8:23; 2 Cor. 5:2; Rev. 6:10).—The return of Christ to the other bank: a sign of His return back to the other world.—How little the disciples understood that crisis.—The last loaf in the ship, the last loaf in the house (the last meal, the last piece of money, the last sheet-anchor).—In this matter, mark, 1. the disciples’ spirit: they misinterpret the most sublime and the most spiritual things through their own over-anxiety; 2. the Lord’s spirit: He makes provision for the testing of His disciples, especially now.—The displeasure of Christ at the lack of spiritual development among His own disciples.—True remembering, in its full import: 1. Christian wakefulness; 2. Christian life; 3. Christian progress.—The influence of the Holy Spirit, and life in the Spirit: bringing to remembrance (John 14:26; 16:13).—The retreat of Jesus in order to arrange His death.
STARKE:—Many desire new wonders; and when they have thought they have seen them, have not yet turned to God.—It is not becoming to prescribe to God the means by which we are to arrive at divine knowledge and blessedness.—HEDINGER:—Ingratitude drives Christ away.—QUESNEL:—It is a fearful judgment when the truth altogether forsakes men, and they are left to themselves.—Forgetfulness gives an opportunity for new instruction; and therefore even their failings should be turned to account by believers.—CRAMER:—Faithful teachers should, after the example of the Great Shepherd, diligently warn their sheep against false doctrine and false teachers (against every evil leaven to the right or left).—Out of one error many others gradually arise, so that the whole system of religion may become perverted.—QUESNEL:—Concerning the tendency to Sadduceism among courtiers.—The weaker our faith is, the more anxious and troubled we are about bodily need, and the more likely to make spiritual possessions of less account.—OSIANDER:—Ministers must be always ready to exhort their hearers with severity, and to rouse them out of the sleep of security.
BRAUNE:—When, after a joyful event, or the attainment of a great success, one is suddenly opposed by an obstinate contradiction, the result is often great disquietude or blank despondency. The Lord, whose case this was on the present occasion, knew very well what He would do, and did it without any restraint. Let all men learn this. They need the lesson in their family circles, and in their civil and political relations, whether more or less exalted.—Scarcely had Jesus ended with His enemies, when He must begin again with His friends.—Before His spirit rose the whole wickedness of His enemies’ spirit, so perverse in itself, pervading with evil the whole of the people, and invading even His disciples. It had already seized and possessed the mind of Judas, 1 Cor. 5:7, 8.
SCHLEIERMACHER:—The Redeemer often uses the idea of leaven, as something of which only a little is needed in order to make the whole like itself.—In truth, He was the leaven, in the form of a servant indeed, destined to penetrate the whole mass of mankind and all human life by the divine power dwelling in Him;—If ye use only a little of the leaven of the Pharisees, ye will very soon be pervaded throughout with its influence.—The leaven of Herod: the family of Herod was a foreign one; they held to the law, and affected much devotion to ceremonial ordinances, in order to attach the people more firmly to themselves. The disciples must not use Christianity as something that might exert a good influence upon their external condition.—We must be pure disciples of the Master, and desire nothing but the pure kingdom of God.—GOSSNER (on Mark 8:19):—This is a test. They had the whole history in their head and memory, but they did not understand how to apply it.
Mark 8:13—The πάλιν precedes ἐμβάς, according to B., C., D., L., Δ. Εἰς τὸ πλοῖν (Recepta), or ει̇ς πλοῖον (Lachmann, after A., E., F.), wanting in B., C., L., D., and omitted by Tischendorf [and Meyer].
Mark 8:16.—The λέγοντες wanting in B., D., and Itala; and B., Itala read ἕχουσιν for ἕχομεν. So Lachmann and Tischendorf.
Mark 8:17.—̓́Ετι in B., C., D., L., Δ., [Lechmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.]
Mark 8:21.—Lachmann: πῶς οὔπω, according to A., D., M. Tischendorf merely οὔπω, according to C., L., D. So Meyer.
And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.2. The Blind Man in Eastern Bethsaida. MARK 8:22–26
22And he cometh10 to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. 24And he looked up, and said, I see [the] men as trees, walking.11 25After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw12 every man clearly. 26And he sent him away to his house [home], saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.13
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Mark alone records this history of Christ’s healing miracles during the time of His final mountain-travels along the Gaulonite range, on the eastern side of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. The remembrances of Peter preserved for us these special treasures, belonging to a time so preëminently memorable to him and his spiritual development. But we have too often observed the peculiar feeling of Mark for the gradual, natural, progressive development of the kingdom of God (see his record of the parables, and the final miracles), not to perceive that this period of the ministry and work of Jesus would strongly rivet his attention.
Mark 8:22. To Bethsaida.—It is evident that the Bethsaida of the western coast, in Galilee (John 12:21), is not here meant, as Theophylact and others have supposed; but, as Grotius rightly perceived, it was Bethsaida Julias, which lay upon the north-eastern coast of the Sea of Tiberias. Reland was the first to indicate that there were two Bethsaidas. Josephus tells us (Antiq. 18, 2, 1), that the tetrarch Philip, who ruled only in the eastern part of Galilee, made the village of Bethsaida into a town, and named it Julias, after the daughter of Augustus. (See also De Bell. Jud. 11, 9, 1; and JEROME on Matthew 16) According to Pliny (Hist. Nat. 5:15), Julias was situated on the farther coast of the Sea of Galilee; according to Josephus, on the Jordan, 120 stadia above its junction with the Sea. Pococke thought the ruins of Taluy, on the east side of the Jordan, marked the ancient Julias; Seetzen thought the same of a little village, Tellanihje; and Robinson, the ruins of Et-Tell. According to Luke 9:10, the first miraculous feeding also took place in a desert place near this same Bethsaida. See VON RAUMER, Palœstina, p. 109. Bethsaida lay in the way from the sea towards Cæsarea Philippi, in the higher mountain-range, a district to which Jesus subsequently returned.—A blind man.—What follows shows that he was not born blind, but had become so. He had evidently seen men and trees aforetime.
Mark 8:23. And led him out of the town.—Here the separation from all others is still more effectual than in the case of the healing of the deaf and dumb man, Mark 7:33. In addition to the motive already mentioned for performing His works as much as possible in retirement, viz., that He might insure His own decease in Jerusalem, we may assume that there was also a pedagogic element that influenced Him on the present occasion. The deaf and dumb man could not hear His voice, but only see His signs; this blind man could not see Him, he could only hear Him speak and feel His hand. Thus it was a test and a discipline of his faith, when he was led into solitude: a test and exercise which probably was still much needed by him.—And when He had spit on his eyes.—See the notes on Mark 7:33 and John 9.
Mark 8:24. I see men.—Expression of joy.—As trees; that is, I see men walking, large and unformed as trees. A distinct figure of an indistinct, twilight beholding. It was the first stage of healing. According to Euthymius Zigabenus, He healed the man by degrees, because his faith was weak, and the gradual experience of recovered sight would lead him to a higher degree of faith. In relation to this, we may observe the strikingly passive bearing of this blind man, as of the deaf and dumb man before: with this we may compare the passiveness of the impotent man at Bethesda, John 5. According to Olshausen, a too rapid process of recovery might have been injurious, and the gradual cure had regard to the eyes themselves. But this and the preceding notion we leave to the reader’s consideration; they may have a certain degree of force. But if we combine all the traits of this and the foregoing history, we see that Jesus designedly repressed the fame of His miraculous works in a district where He was seeking an asylum of perfect retirement, in order to settle everything with His disciples; at a time, too, when, for their sake and His own, absolute solitude was essentially necessary with reference to the decision of the future, But the symbolical significance of these miraculous dealings—as bringing the divine power into gradual contact and contest with human nature—was more expressly brought out for the instruction of His disciples than in most of His miracles of healing.—The persons who appeared to the half-seeing man were probably his companions, and other sympathizing people, who looked on in restless motion.
Mark 8:26. To his house.—He did not belong to Bethsaida, and he must go immediately from the place to his own home—not even to the village to which he had already come. Indeed, he was not to mention it to any one belonging to that village, and whom he might meet in the way. This explanation of the last expression [“any in the town”] is not, as Meyer terms it, an invention to meet the difficulty; it is the obvious and only natural meaning of the expression. Even the man’s companions should i find him recovered and seeing, only when they reached home; that is, if they were not permitted to be present at the healing.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Christ sought with His disciples the deepest solitude among the mountains. His feeling was that of an anticipation of His death, and all things in the signs of the times said, Set Thine house, Thy Church, in order! In this journey the people who brought the blind man interrupted Him, and there seemed danger of His way being embarrassed. It is true that this did not hinder His healing the man, but He healed him in the most undemonstrative and hidden manner. The secrecy of the performance was paralleled by the extraordinary care with which He sent the blind man to his own house, under a prohibition to speak to any man in the neighborhood concerning the miracle. The blind man, however, was not merely a means to an end; his own spiritual edification was in question also. Since his faith was weak, his spiritual state required the protection of solitude: only in the profoundest silence could the blessing of his experience ripen into perfection. But, thirdly, we must not forget the Lord’s reference to those who surrounded the blind man. They asked that He would touch him. To this demand for an instant act, followed by an instant influence, the Lord opposed His own slow and circumstantial method of procedure. So also in the case of the deaf and dumb man of the same country: they asked Him that He would lay His hand upon the man. And if in this district of indistinct, half-heathen notions there was any idea arising of a magical influence on the part of Christ, His wisdom dispersed these foolish imaginations. He made prominent, 1. the religious aspect of the act; and 2. the struggle in His own spirit connected with its performance.
2. This present narrative illustrates how Christ performed His miracles in the most absolute self-renunciation (at the most unseasonable time); with the most profound humility (without any desire for honor among men); and with the most supreme wisdom and confidence.
3. The healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, like some other similar miracles, was especially fitted and intended to exhibit the harmony of miracle with nature, the natural elements in the miracle, the gradual entrance of the divine power into the old nature, and its issues in the new nature.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The Lord, deeply occupied with thoughts of His cross and of His death, does not repel as an interruption the cry of the wretched.—The festal season of the Prophet’s miracles is passing away, because the season of the high-priestly miraculous sufferings is drawing near.—The healing of the blind man at Bethsaida a testimony of the heavenly wisdom of the Lord: 1. In respect to Himself; 2. in respect to the blind man: he should not first see the multitudes of starers in the street, but the Lord in His solitary glory, and thus would he be taught more fully the lesson of faith; 3. in respect to the people around; 4. in respect to the disciples.—Abundant as was the inward life of Christ, His acts are equally abundant in their forms.—Christ, in performing His miracles, avoided a fixed and uniform manner, in order to obviate all the idle, superstitious notions of a magical influence.—How the mind, contemplating the same unchanging fundamental forms, has a tendency to become mechanical in its views.—As the wonderworking power of Christ’s hand wrought in many fleeting forms of action, so also the fundamental forms of the ministerial work of the Church, in teaching, worship, and life, should be moulded, moved, and inspired by the life of the Divine Spirit.—The education of the blind man into faith.—The gradual return of the blind man’s sight, a type of the gradual illumination of the soul.—Even the spiritually awakened see at first men as trees, unformed, without definite distinction.—I see men as trees. This represents, as it may be viewed, different conditions of the spiritual life: 1. It is a happy state, if it is the first stage towards clearly seeing in perfect knowledge; 2. it is a gloomy and uncertain state, if the Christian should remain in it; 3. worst of all, if through his own guilt he should return to this stage, falling into the new blindness of despair.—The blessed experience of the first believing look: a strengthening of faith, which becomes the transition to perfect sight.—Go not into the town: a solemn word concerning Bethsaida.—Bethsaida the modern city of the world, with an imperial name, and Bethsaida the town of the fishermen: the bright and the dark side.—How Jesus avoids the fame of His works, in order that He may seek in the shame of His sufferings His highest honor and glory.
STARKE:—Christ’s gifts within us change with times.—CANSTEIN:—A weak and slight beginning is yet a beginning; and in God’s methods a little is intended to become gradually greater.—QUESNEL:—The cure of spiritual blindness is only begun on earth; it will be fully accomplished only in heaven.—OSIANDER:—God often turns away our misfortune, and mends our unhappiness, by slow degrees: have patience!—Solitude and silence after conversion is much safer than much talk and running about.—We should let the truth take firm root in us, before we speak much about it.—The converted man must take care not to turn round again to the world.—CANSTEIN:—Fearful judgment, when God reckons a man, or a city, or a land, no longer worthy of the knowledge of His word and works.
GERLACH:—The gradualness of the operation is often our first inward assurance of the certainty of the change.—RIEGER:—Do not despise slight means [referring to the application of spittle].—BRAUNE:—Men must be ever known, not as trees, as perishable plants, but as rational creatures, called to eternal glory.—First of all, however, the blind man came to know Jesus aright: to know Him clearly is eternal life.
SCHLEIERMACHER:—The cure of the blind man in its resemblance to the next section: 1. The withdrawing to a place apart (special reasons for this in both cases respectively); 2. the gradual work (men as trees; obscure views concerning Christ); 3. the Redeemer’s care as to what men say of Him; 4. the sight restored, and the confession of Peter.
Mark 8:22.—The Plural, ἔρχονται, after B., C., D. Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer.]
Mark 8:24.—The beautiful reading: βλέπω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ὅτι ὡς δένδρα ὁρῶ περιπατοῦντας is adopted by Meyer, Lachmann, Tischendorf, following [A., B., C.*, E., F., G., K., L., M., Δ., Gothic, Theophylact, Euthymius. (D. and most of the Versions have the Received Text).]
Mark 8:25.—Tischendorf, [Meyer,] διέβλεψεν, after B., C.*, L., Δ., &c.
Mark 8:26.—The Received Text and Lachmann follow Cod. A. Tischendorf, following B., L., Coptic, omits the clause μηδὲ εἰς … κώμῃ.
And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?3. The Opinions of the People, and Peter’s Confession. Pre-announcement of His Sufferings. The Presumption of Peter. Christ’s Teaching concerning Cross-bearing. MARK 8:27–9:1
(Parallels: Matt. 16:13–28; Luke 9:18–27)
27And Jesus went out and his disciples into the towns of Cæsarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28And they answered,14 John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the 29prophets. And he said unto them, 15 But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answer eth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30And he charged them that they should tell no man of [respecting] him. 31And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of [by] the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33But when he had turned about, and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest [mindest] not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 34And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever 16 will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35For whosoever will save his life 17 shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36For what shall 37it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what 18 shall a man give in exchange [as a ransom] for his soul? 38Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.
1And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on Matthew and Luke.—In respect to time, this is another section which stands in strict internal connection with the preceding crises. There are some important peculiarities in Mark. Matthew mentions the district of Cæsarea Philippi, Mark the villages which surrounded it, as the first goal at which our Lord aimed; and the latter transfers the question to the way thither. Among the people’s thoughts and verdicts concerning Jesus, he omits the mention of Jeremiah. It is observable that he leaves out the benediction of Peter, and the special prerogative assigned to him after his confession. Luke also omits these, while Matthew details them all in full. Here, as elsewhere, Peter, Mark’s informant and voucher, omitted or kept in reserve points which tended to his own honor. On the other hand, Mark states prominently that the Lord’s prediction of His passion was part of the instruction which He openly gave; he also quotes the Saviour’s rebuking word to Peter, “Satan,” without any of the definite explanatory particulars which Matthew gives, and without Christ’s “Thou art to Me a σκάνδαλον.” Mark speaks of the people as also called by Jesus to hear the statement of the universal law of suffering in the kingdom of God. He alone has the emphatic word, that he who is ashamed of the Lord is ashamed of Him (in a disgraceful manner) in an adulterous and sinful generation. In conclusion, Mark represents the coming of Christ more expressly than the other two Evangelists as a coming in power (majesty); while Luke speaks of His kingdom, and Matthew of His appearing in that kingdom.
Mark 8:31. After three days.—General and popular way of speaking, instead of “on the third day,” which afterwards is used as the more definite statement.
Mark 8:34. And when He had called the people unto Him.—This scarcely requires us to understand great multitudes. But Christ makes the people who were present sharers in this part of His instruction, in order to impress it the more upon His disciples that the way of suffering was absolutely imperative, and in order to lay down the fundamental laws of self-denial and holy suffering in all their universality of application.
Mark 8:37. In exchange for: ransom-price.—The ἀντάλλαγμα is the counter-price antithetic to the price, ἄλλαγμα. The price which the earthly-minded gives for the world, the ἄλλαγμα, is his soul. But, after having laid that down as the price, what has he for an ἀντάλλαγμα, to buy the soul back again?
Mark 9:1. There be some of them that stand here.—See on Matthew.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallels of Matthew and Luke.
2. According to Mark, Jesus first called and collected the Twelve in the villages outside of Nazareth (Mark 6:6, 7); then, in the villages of Cæsarea Philippi, again gathering them together and confirming them. Solitude and sequestered probation, a condition of establishment and confirmation in the spiritual office.
3. It is of great significance that Peter does not, in his own Gospel, once mention the word of Christ concerning his own personal priority among the Apostles, least of all as the institution of an official primacy.
4. So it is to be observed how strictly, according to Mark, the confession of Christ is conjoined with the announcement of His passion, and with the requirement of following Him in the way of the Cross.
5. Let him take up his cross.—An obscure intimation of His own approaching suffering upon the cross, which, even in its general terms, gave a definite meaning. Let him hold himself ready to follow Me, regarded as the vilest malefactor, and exposed to the deepest shame and the most cruel death. The cross of Christ, as such, is not a kind of suffering which is the natural consequence of sin, but which crosses the views of an ideal or newly awakened higher life.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on Matthew; and compare Luke’s parallel.—The question of Christ: “Whom say the people that I am?” a means of exciting a definite Christian consciousness, in opposition to the uncertain notions of the world.—The answer of the disciples in all its significance: 1. No man says, and no man could say without madness, that Christ was nothing, or a person of no importance. 2. The scorners and slanderers of Christ are not regarded or alluded to. 3. The testimonies or opinions: a. John the Baptist (according to Herod, returned from the dead): thus Christianity was something ghostly and preternatural. b. Elias (in the sense of Malachi): thus they were not able to distinguish Elias from Christ. Christianity seemed to them as a power exerted after the manner of Elias; thus in a spiritual sense as something legal. c. One of the prophets: something indefinite, a spiritual power, which none could clearly understand.—The question was not, what the people said concerning Christ, but what the Apostles said concerning Him.—Christ could be preached as the Christ of all the world, only after the fulfilment of His passion as the Crucified and the Risen. The confession of His people was to the Lord no sign that He would escape from suffering, but a certain sign that He would suffer.—What it means, that the Lord announces His sufferings to the disciples without any restraint: 1. In reference to Himself, 2. to the disciples, 3. to the world.—Only after we have known the person of our Lord in His word and work, can we understand and bear the knowledge of Christ’s work in His passion.—The true confession of Christ must be confirmed by a readiness to follow Him.—The suffering of Christ is a divine sympathy: 1. As suffering through and for the world, it sprang from His sympathy with the world; 2. it establishes a divine sympathy in the world, as suffering on its own account and with Christ.—Self-renunciation of the believer is the soul of the confession of Christ.—The fundamentals of the Christian fellowship: I. Its fundamental laws: 1. The true denier (of himself) is the true confessor; 2. the true cross-bearer is the true knight of the cross; 3. the true follower (after Christ in obedience) is the true conqueror. II. Its grounds: 1. He who will save his life in self-seeking, shall lose it; he who loses it in devotion to Christ, shall gain it. 2. He who lays down his soul to win the world, loses with his soul the world also; he who has gained his soul, has with his soul gained the world also. 3. To seek honor in the world while ashamed of Christ, leads to infamy before the throne of Christ; but shame in the world leads to honor with Him. 4. Readiness to die with Christ leads through death to the day of eternal glory.—It is in self-denial that we first find our true selves, recovering our personality again.—True self-denial is the raising of our buried personality out of the grave of self-deceptions.—The false and the true self.—How shameful to be ashamed of Christ in an adulterous and sinful generation: 1. As the deification of a vanishing honor, which is eternal shame; 2. as the refusal of a vanishing shame, which is eternal honor.—How Christ detects the thoughts of men in His communion.
STARKE:—CANSTEIN:—We may lawfully ask what others hold us for, if the question does not spring from pride, but from a desire to do ourselves or others good.—HEDINGER:—It is not wrong to be jealous of one’s public repute. But Christ remains ever what He is, despite all the various opinions concerning Him.—QUESNEL:—The true knowledge of the secret mysteries of Christ is attained only by scholars of truth and light.—Here is a catechetical lesson given by Christ Himself.—All truths have a set time for their full revelation: we should be always careful that we do not prematurely speak, or anticipate that time, Eccles. 3:7; we must suffer with willing heart, be rejected of the world, and be crucified with Christ, if we would be raised with Him, Rom. 6:6–8.—The ungodly can do nothing against us but what the wise decree of God has already determined.—Bibl. Wirt.:—Flesh and blood always look rather at external danger and damage, han at the solemnity and claims of the call (Rom. 8:6–8; 1 John 2:15–17; 1 Pet. 2:11, 20, 21; Gal. 5:21.)—You must not watch Christ, but follow Him; you must not boast about Him, but act like Him.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—World gained, nothing gained; soul lost, all lost.—The greatest good is not to be met with in the transitory world, nor in the debauchery of the flesh: he whose soul is united with God has found it.—If thou art ashamed of Christ in His humble and lowly state, thou wilt have no part in His exalted and glorified state.—To die before one has seen the kingdom of God, is a wretched end.
BRAUNE:—The kingdom of God is, in a certain sense, near at all times: there is no season when its beginnings are not manifest.—GERLACH:—(Peter), rash and impetuous, spoke only, as he was wont to do, in the name of all the rest.
GOSSNER:—He who opposes himself to the cross of Christ and its doctrine, is a Satan, even though his name were Peter.—In the kingdom of God, all the world is inverted.—Losing is there called gaining, and gaining is there called losing.—BAUER. on Mark 9:35:—The beginning towards eternal life.
Mark 8:28.—According to B., C.*, D., L., A., [Vulgate, Itala,] Lachmann, and Tischendorf add αὐτῷ λέγοντες. [Superfluous, and therefore more likely to be omitted than added. (Mayer.)]
Mark 8:29.—’Επηρώτα αὐτοὺς, instead of λέγει αὐτοῖς, after B., C., D., is the reading of Lachmann, Tischendorf, [and Mayer.]
Ver.34.—B., C.*, D., L., Δ., [Vulgate, Itala, Lachmann, Tischendorf,] read εἴ τις instead of ὅστις A., B., Lachmann, Tischendorf have ἐλθεῖν instead of ἀκολουθεῖ.
Mark 8:35.—Τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ, Codd. A., D., Lachmann. (Τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ψυχήν, Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf.)
Mark 8:37.—Tischendorf, τί γάρ, instead of ἥ τί, after B., L., Δ.; he also omits δώσει ἄνθρωπος.