Hebrews 2

Overview

  • The author says:
  • Listen up, peeps, so that you don’t find yourself drifting away from the truth.
  • Because, if the Law of Moses was delivered by angels and had punishments built in for breaking the law, you can imagine how much important it is to pay attention to the way of salvation given to us now.
  • This way of salvation was announced to us by Jesus, and confirmed by those who knew him firsthand. God added his affirmation of it via signs, wonders, acts of power and the distribution of the Holy Spirit.
  • Besides, angels aren’t even supposed to inherit the world to come.
  • Remember how that old song says, “What is a man that you, God, would even think twice about him? What is lowly, ordinary man that you even care about him? For a little while you made him lower than the angels, but then you’ll elevate him, crown him, and make everything subject to him.”
  • And when it says “everything” it means everything, even though it doesn’t look like it yet.
  • But remember, Jesus is currently elevated and crowned, because for a little while he was made lower than the angels just so he could experience death on behalf of everyone.
  • In his plan to elevate all of his kids, God, through whom everything is made, made the trailblazer to glory (Jesus) fully complete through the experience of suffering.
  • Now the one that can make people holy (Jesus) and those he made holy (us) are family.
  • Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters, because it’s like that other old song says, “After I was saved by God, I shared the story with my brothers and sisters.”
  • Or when Isaiah the prophet said, “When things look bad, I trust in God.” And, “The signs that what I said was true are me and my kids.”
  • Since we are just people, regular ol’ flesh and blood, Jesus became like us so that through his death he could break the power of the jerk who wields the power of death (the devil).
  • Jesus set us free from the fear of dying.
  • Jesus didn’t come to save angels, he came to help the children of Abraham – those with faith.
  • He became 100% human so that he could become the best high priest ever and forever get rid of our sins.
  • Jesus suffered and was tempted so that he would know exactly what you’re going through, and therefore would be awesome at helping you.

Historical Context

Psalms 8:4-6

This Psalm dwells upon the paradox of man’s physical insignificance contrasted with his spiritual importance.6

This Psalm is based theologically on Gen. 1 in which man is given dominion over the earth. Man was created to rule, but his sin turned the world upside-down. Now sickness, suffering, and death are signs that the world that is not subject to man.5

By quoting from Psalms 8, the author of Hebrews is saying that ultimately people, not angels, are destined to be placed over all of creation.6

In this Psalm the term “son of man” is in a parallel relationship with the term “man.” It is a Hebrew idiom for humanity.4

Psalm 22:22

This same Psalm was quoted by Jesus on the cross when he cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Originally written by David at a moment when he felt overrun by his enemies and forsaken by God, but it’s meaning was taken to go beyond those events and imply a Messianic event in which God would ultimately subdue all his enemies.

Isaiah 8:18

Isaiah predicted that Israel would be overrun by Assyria. The sense in Isaiah chapter 8 is, that the prophet had closed his message to the people; he had been directed to seal up the testimony; he had exhorted the nation to repent, but he had done it in vain; and he had now nothing to do but to put his trust in the Lord, and commit the whole cause to him. His only hope was in God; and he calmly and confidently committed his cause to him.3

The writer to the Hebrews implies that just as Isaiah could include his sons among those who were “with him” in trusting God, so Jesus could include his spiritual children among those who, with him, trust in God even in the midst of trials and tribulations.5

The Devil and The Power of Death

The Devil in Greek (diabolos) means “slanderer” (from diabállein, “to slander”)This term is often interchangeable with the name Satan, and is used 32 times in the New Testament. “Slanderer” is also a word used for humans, such as Judas, and gossips.(Revelation 12:9).9

The original Hebrew term satan is a noun from a verb meaning primarily “to obstruct, oppose”, as it is found in Numbers 22:22, 1 Samuel 29:4, Psalms 109:6. Ha-Satan is traditionally translated as “the accuser” or “the adversary”. The definite article ha- (English: “the”) is used to show that this is a title bestowed on a being, versus the name of a being. Thus, this being would be referred to as “the satan”.9

The Devil is considered a prince of a kingdom. To be a prince means he has power to wield over his subjects. The “power of sin” or “power of death” is his power. The Devil introduced sin into the world and through sin death. His desire is to destroy and kill, and his use of temptations increase death in the world.10

According to the Gospel of John, Satan is “the prince of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The word translated “prince” (archon) customarily referred to “the highest official in a city or a region in the Greco-Roman world.” While Jesus and his followers of course believed that God was the ultimate Lord over all creation, they clearly viewed Satan as the functional lord of the earth at the present time.11

Satan is depicted as possessing “all the kingdoms of the world” — to the point where he gives authority to rule these kingdoms to anyone he pleases (Lk 4:5-6). In fact, the various kingdoms of the world can be described as a single kingdom under Satan’s rule (Rev. 11:15, cf. Rev. 13). John goes so far as to claim that the entire world is “under the power of the evil one” (I Jn 5:19) while Paul doesn’t shy away from labeling Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2).11

Satan does not have the absolute power over death (Job 2:4-6; 1 Cor. 5:5), but he does hold the power of the fear of death, which he holds over all mankind (cf. 1 Cor. 15:54-57). Jesus has abolished death (cf. 2 Tim. 1:10) and he holds the keys of hades and death (cf. Rev. 1:18).4

High Priest

The Jewish high priest was to be a decedent of Aaron, and was at the head of religion among the Jews. He was set apart with solemn ceremonies,  clad in his sacred vestments, and anointed with oil (Exodus 29:5-9; Leviticus 8:2). He was the general judge of all that pertained to religion, and even of the judicial affairs of the Jewish nation (Deuteronomy 17:8-12; 19:17; 21:5; 33:9-10). He alone had the privilege of entering the most holy place once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to make an offering for the sins of the whole people (Leviticus 16:2). When clothed in his proper vestments, and having on the Urim and Thummim (stones), he made known the will of God in regard to future events.3

Observations

  • The word translated “drift away” in Greek means “to flow by, to flow over; and then to go by, to fall, to go away.” It is used to mean to flow near, to flow by – as of a river; to glide away, to escape – as from the mind, that is, to forget; and to glide along – as a thief does by stealth.3
  • There are two objections the audience for Hebrews would have had: First, that Jesus was a man; and secondly, that he suffered and died. They would ask how he, a mortal man, could be superior to the angels? How could he have had the rank which was claimed for him? This the author answers by showing first, that Jesus’ condition as a man was “voluntarily” assumed – “he was made lower than the angels;” and secondly, by showing that as a consequence of his sufferings and death, Jesus was immediately crowned with glory and honor.3
  • The author now shows how the Son is superior to the angels in a very different way – by taking on humanity (the incarnation) in order to save lost men and women, and restore them to the place of dignity and authority for which they were originally created.5
  • “Taste” in Greek does not mean “sample a small amount” (as a typical English reader might infer), but “experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something.”1
  • The Greek word translated pioneer is used of a “prince” or leader, the representative head of a family. It also carries nuances of “trailblazer,” one who breaks through to new ground for those who follow him. It is used some thirty-five times in the Greek OT and four times in the New Testament, always of Christ.1
  • The warning of Hebrews 2:1-5 is linked by the phrase ‘for this reason’ with the entire argument of Hebrews 1. Because of the Son’s superiority to angels (1:1-5), the angels’ worship of and service to Him at His coming (1:6-7), His future rule and sharing of joy with His companions (1:8-9), and His future subjugation of His enemies (1:10-14), the readers would do well to heed these teachings.2
  • Verses 5-18 present eight reasons for the incarnation of the Son: 1) to fulfill God’s purpose for man (vv. 5-9a); 2) to taste death for all (v. 9b); 3) to bring many sons to glory (vv. 10-13); 4) to destroy the devil (v. 14); 5) to deliver those in bondage (v. 15); 6) to become a sympathetic high priest for men (vv. 16-17a); 7) to make propitiation for sins (v. 17b): 8) and to provide help for those tested.2
  • The term “perfect” means “to be complete, mature, equipped for the assigned task” (cf. Eph. 4:12). The author of Hebrews uses “perfect” three times to describe Jesus (cf. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28) and three times to describe Jesus’ followers (cf. 10:14; 11:40; 12:23).4
  • “Perfect” can be understood as meaning “to completely prepare.” In this sense, Jesus’ incarnation and sufferings “prepared” him for the work he would accomplish on the cross of Calvary.5
  • “Perfect” is often used to represent the consecration of the High Priest (Leviticus 21:10).8
  • God perfected Jesus by charting his path to glory through suffering. By having experienced suffering Jesus can more perfectly help us as we suffer (v. 18). He was “perfected” in this sense.2
  • The fear of death enslaves unbelievers in that fear of death leads them to behave in ways that please Satan (e.g., selfishly, living for the present, etc.).2
  • Since the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:55), Christ’s providing the remedy for sin has removed the most dreadful part of the fear of death, which is the fear of punishment afterward. Moreover, death with the resurrection to follow is not death in the former sense. It is the sure and certain hope of the resurrection that robs death of so much of its terror.6
  • “the seed of Abraham” probably refers primarily to believers, the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), rather than to Jews, the physical descendants of Abraham (cf. Isa. 41:8-10).2
  • Here the benefits of our Lord’s incarnation, according to the author of Hebrews: 1) Fallen man is restored to his former glory and authority through the incarnation of our Lord (2:5-18). 2) As a result of our Lord’s incarnation, all believers have become a family (2:11-13). 3) Because of the incarnation, Jesus defeated Satan and his colleagues, so that we are no longer paralyzed with the fear of death (2:14-15). 4) Because of the incarnation of our Lord, we have become Abraham’s seed, and thus are assured that we will enjoy the blessings God promised to Abraham (2:16). 5) Because of the incarnation, we now have a merciful and faithful High Priest (2:17-18).5

Discussion

  • The author warns agains neglect as a means of ruining our salvation. This implies that there must be active maintenance of our belief to keep it “alive.” What does this imply? What do we lose to neglect? How do we recognize when we’re drifting away?
  • How does death (or more specifically, the fear of death) effect our thinking about life? What actions do we take to avoid death, based on fear? What actions do we take to “get the most out of life now” based on our fear of death? How might we act differently knowing that Jesus promised us life eternal?
  • The forgiveness which God provided for man is absolutely unique, there being no precedent of any such thing in heaven or upon earth. Where, in all the universe, is there such a thing as the forgiveness of sins, apart from Christ our Lord? No forgiveness was provided for the angels when they sinned; none of the laws of God’s natural creation ever forgave either man or beast; no one ever fell off a cliff and received a reprieve from the law of gravity; no dog ever forgave the quarry; no poisonous serpent ever forgave the victim.6 How does this shape your thinking about grace? What is the difference between grace and justice? How does grace offend our natural sensibilities since we are surrounded by laws (natural and man made) and are born with an innate need for justice?

References

  1. Net Bible Notes
  2. Constable’s commentary
  3. Barnes’ commentary
  4. Utley’s commentary
  5. Deffinbaugh’s commentary
  6. Coffman’s commentary
  7. Cole’s commentary
  8. Cambridge commentary
  9. Devil – Wikipedia
  10. Power of Death
  11. Atonement – ReKnew
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Mark 8

Scripture: Mark 8:1-9:1

Overview:

  • Once again Jesus finds himself surrounded by a hungry crowd and has compassion on them
  • Jesus doesn’t want to send them away, but the disciples don’t understand how the crowd will be able to find bread otherwise
  • Jesus asks the disciples for the food they have on them, which is seven loaves of bread and a few fish
  • Jesus has the people take a seat while he blesses the food and starts handing it out
  • Everyone eats until they are satisfied. There’s four thousand of them. Dang.
  • The disciples pick up seven basketfuls of leftovers.
  • Jesus and his peeps then head off to Dalmanutha where some Pharisees show up and demand a sign from Jesus
  • Jesus is irritated and tells them, “No signs for you”
  • In the boat, on their way back to the other side, the disciples realize they have no bread with them
  • Jesus tells them that they should beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
  • The disciples say, “Huh?”
  • Jesus reminds them of the feeding of the 5,000 and all the leftovers, then the feeding of the 4,000 and all those leftovers, then asks why they don’t get it already.
  • When they get to Bethsaida a blind man is brought to Jesus for him to heal
  • After the first try the man can see partly and says, “I can barely distinguish people from trees”
  • After the second attempt the man can see perfectly.
  • Jesus sends the blind man home and tells him not to go into the village
  • On their way to Caesarea Philippi Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is
  • They reply that some people think he’s a prophet, or Elijah, or John the Baptist
  • Jesus asks who the disciples think he is and Peter says, “The Christ”
  • Jesus says, “Keep that info on the down low,” then proceeds to tell them that the Messiah is going to be handed over and killed by his enemies
  • Peter takes Jesus aside and tells him it’s not supposed to go like that
  • Jesus tells Peter that he’s acting on behalf of Satan and to get back in line
  • Jesus then tells his disciples that if they want to follow him, it’s going to be hard, and they’ve got to be willing to give it all up. It does no good to gain the world but lose your soul.
  • Jesus then tells them that some of them will still be around when the kingdom comes in power

Historical Context:

Feeding of the 4,000 

Many scholars feel that the feeding of the 4,000 is either (1) the same event as the feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6), retold with a Gentile focus, or (2) it is a distinct and separate event. In the case of it being a separate event, the disciples may have (A) not expected Jesus to repeat the same miracle twice, or (B) may have not expected Jesus to perform a miracle for what may have been a more Gentile, or Hellenistic crowd (as determined by the textual nuances listed below).

Of note: the feeding of the 5000 is the only pre-resurrection miracle to be included in all four gospels.[2] The feeding of the 4000 is contained only in Matthew and Mark.

Similarities and Differences

Feeding of the 5,000 (Mk. 6:33-44) Feeding of the 4,000 (Mk. 8:1-10)
Jesus and his disciples go to a solitary place to escape the crowds. The people race to meet Jesus there. The crowds have been traveling with Jesus and his disciples for “three days” and are in a desolate place.
Jesus feels compassion for them, because they are like sheep without a shepherd – a reference to Psalm 23. Jesus feels compassion for the crowds.
The disciples suggest that the people go into the “surrounding countryside and villages” to buy food, indicating they may have been near a more populated area in Galilee.[3] Jesus is worried that the crowds may “faint on the way” to find food because “some of them have come a long distance, indicating that the location may be in the more sparsely populated Gentile Decapolis.[3]
Disciples are worried that it may cost “200 denarii” (half a year’s wages) to feed everyone Disciples are worried that no one could “find enough bread” in that “desolate area.”
The disciples find 5 loaves and 2 fish. The disciples find 7 loaves and a few fish.
The Greek word for fish used is “opsarion.” This word refers to the salted and dried “small fish” common in Jewish regions.[3] The Greek word for fish used is “ichthus” which is the standard word for fish in Greek, indicating a more Gentile influence.[3]
Jesus has the people sit down by groups in the “green grass” evoking the image of Moses blessing the Israelites, as well as indicating that the event took place in the Spring, near Passover.[3] Jesus directs the people to “sit on the ground.”
Jesus blesses the loaves and fish at the same time. Jesus blesses the loaves and the fish separately, similar to how Gentiles at the time would’ve blessed each course of the meal separately.
The people ate until they were satisfied. The people ate until they were satisfied.
12 basketfuls were collected, invoking the concept of the 12 tribes of Israel. 7 basketfuls were collected, the number 7 invoking the idea of spiritual completion or perfection.
The Greek word  for baskets used is “kophinos,” which refers to a small shoulder basket used specifically by Jews to carry their food and bedding when traveling.[3] The Greek word  for baskets is “spuris,” which means ‘hamper’ or a much larger basket.  (Paul was lowered down the Damascus walls in a spuris in Acts 9.25).[3]
5,000 men (not including women and children) may be symbolic of the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah).[3]  4,000 people (women and children not specified) may be symbolic of the number four – the number of the Earth, since on day four the Earth’s creation was finished (five and six are devoted to creating its inhabitants, the seventh to rest).[2]

Dalmanutha

Dalmanutha is only mentioned in Mark’s Gospel, however, the corresponding passage inMatthew 15:39 says, Jesus and his disciples “came into the coasts of Magdala,” which is generally considered to be the modern-day town of Migdal.. Magdala is most well-known for its association with Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala), who most likely was from that town.[9]

Some scholars suggest that Dalmanutha is derived from a Hebrew term meaning “wall” (the radicals of Dalmanutha, dylm’, are found in the Talmud) and could have meant one of the enclosed cities of that region.[1]

A Sign

When the Pharisees are asking for a sign they may have been asking for (1) an opportunity to see one of Jesus’ miracles themselves, as they may have not been present during any of the previous events, or (2) more likely asking for a proof of his authority, possibly a prediction, a sign from heaven (such as the birth of a child that would herald the demise of a country as in Isaiah 7), or an apocalyptic sign (indicating a militaristic victory over Israel’s enemies).[8]

It is also possible that the “sign” requested is not a miracle, but a banner, totem, or token of the Davidic messiah, associated in various ancient Jewish texts and the Old Testament with a holy war, thereby indicating the beginning of a holy war against the Romans.[5]

Note that the concept of asking for a sign to authenticate a prophet or another person claiming divine authorization is a thoroughly Biblical and Jewish one. For example, it features in both the stories of both Moses and Elijah (Ex. 4:1-9, 29-31; 7:8-22, etc.; 1 Kings 18:38; Isaiah 7:10-17; 38:7-8); so the desire for “a sign” is not in itself wrong. By adding the phrase “testing him [Jesus],” however, Mark paints the request of the Pharisees as a dishonest one.[1]

Jesus’ response in calling them “‘this generation'” has Old Testament implications connected to the wilderness wandering period ( Num. 32:13; Deut. 1:35; 32:5,20) and Israel’s impatience and ignorance in assessing the plans God has for them.[5]

Yeast

Yeast is a primary ingredient of bread and takes only a small amount to effect the entire amount of dough. Jesus was emphasizing that even a little “yeast” could infect the whole group.

In Matthew (16:12), the “yeast” is explained to be the “teachings” of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and in Luke (15:1) it is described as the Pharisees’ “hypocrisy.” In Mark the meaning of “yeast” remains elusive, and Jesus’ warning seems to focus more on the Pharisees and Herod (or possibly the Herodians, who were generally Sadducees) themselves as being Jesus’ enemies.[1]

Jesus may have been engaging in some wordplay here as the terms “leven” (yeast) and “word” are very similar in Aramaic.[8]

Bethsaida:

Bethsaida is located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, immediately to the east of the outflow of the Jordan into the lake.[1]  It is located in a “desert place,” or an uncultivated area used for grazing livestock.[10] Bethsaida, meaning either “house of fishing” or “house of the fisherman,” was at the time of Jesus a large, fortified village covering an area of about 20 acres. It was a working-class settlement, a fishing village,[1] the native city of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Philip.

The tetrarch, Herod Philip, elevated the city to the status of a Greek city-state (polis) and renamed it Bethsaida-Julias, in honor of Julia, the daughter of the former Roman emperor, Augustus, and wife of the current emperor, Tiberius. Philip also built a lavishly decorated temple on the highest spot of the town. Bethsaida’s status as a polis, together with this temple, suggest that it was one of the centers of the Roman emperor-worship cult.[1]

It is possible, as well, that there was another city named Bethsaida in Galilee, closer to Capernaum.

Healing of the Blind Man in Bethsaida

The blind man healed in Bethsaida is a miracle recounted only in Mark’s gospel. It is generally considered that Mark leveraged this event to emphasize the disciples’ slow and gradual understanding of Jesus’ true identity as the suffering messiah, and is seen as the pivot point of the gospel itself as here afterwards Jesus explicitly teaches his disciples about the nature of his messiahship and begins his journey to Jerusalem.

It is likely that Jesus took the man outside of the city due to it’s rejection of him, as indicated in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus curses Bethsaida for it’s unbelief.

Jesus may have used spit here because the eyes were gummed by a secretion that had become hard. To wet them would be a natural expression of removing the obstruction and opening them.[7]  Note also that spitting on his eyes (medicinal/physical) and laying his hands on him (spiritual) were both cultural ways of healing.[9]

When the man is first touched by Jesus and says “I see people; they look like trees walking around,” it would be better translated that he sees “people walking, but so indistinctly, that but for their motion I could not distinguish them from trees.”[7]

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi is an ancient city located 25 miles north of the Sea of Galilee on the southwest slope of Mount Hermon. It has lush groves of trees, grassy fields and an abundance of water. In the Old Testament, it was known as Baal Hermon and Baal Gad. The city was later was named Panias after the Greek god Pan who was worshipped there[1] at a cave from which a spring gushed out and down to the valley below.[11]

Herod the Great built a temple in the city and dedicated it to Emperor Augustus, who had given him the town. After Herod’s death, his son, Philip, built the city Panias, later naming it Caesarea in honor of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. It came to be referred to as Caesarea Philippi (after Philip) or Caesarea Panias.[1]

Jesus and his disciples are said to have traveled to the villages around Caesarea Philippi, which refers to small, outlying settlements surrounding the larger, main city.[1] Of note is that one of the villages would’ve been Gamala (from Aramaic gamla “camel,” as it was located on a hill), the home of Judas of Galilee, the founder of the Zealot movement (a violent, militaristic Jewish faction intent on overthrowing Rome).

Christ:

Both mashiach, or Messiahin Hebrew, and christos, or Christ, in Greek mean “anointed.” In Hebrew, “anointed” refers to a ritual of consecrating someone or something by putting holy oil upon it. It is used throughout the Old Testament in reference to anointing a Jewish king, Jewish priests, prophets, the Temple and its utensils, unleavened bread, and a non-Jewish king (Cyrus king of Persia).[12]

In Jewish eschatology, the term refers to a future Jewish king descended from the line of king David, who will be “anointed” with holy anointing oil[12] and is expected to restore justice and good fortunes of the people of God, as well as establish and protect an everlasting kingdom over all the earth. The Messiah was to be the perfect king chosen by God, through whom God would first deliver Israel from its enemies and then cause it to dwell in eternal peace and tranquility.[1]

Prior to Jesus, the “Servant of YHWH” nor the “son of man” concepts from the Old Testament were not associated with messianic connotations. The messiah was expected to be entirely human (through far greater than God’s earlier messengers to Israel, free from sin), mighty and wise in the spirit of God, and the individual who would rid Israel of all her enemies, gather the faithful from dispersion, and rule in justice and glory.

The concept of a ‘king messiah’ was a dangerous one, and an obvious threat against the Romans and their Jewish collaborators (ex. Herodians or Sadducees).[1]

For Jesus to then leverage Peter’s proclamation of him as a victorious leader as an opportunity to speak of his impending rejection, suffering, and death was contrary to the notion of the messiah.[1]

Satan:

The name Satan is derived from the Semitic root “śṭn” meaning “to be hostile,” “to test,” or “to accuse.” The name was a familiar Jewish term for the devil (also called Beelzeboul). Jesus calling Peter “Satan” implies that Peter’s protests, even though described as the thoughts of man, are so much at odds with the “thoughts of God” to be considered as coming from a supernatural source. The rejection God’s plan for his Messiah puts Peter (and all the disciples by proxy, as Peter was likely their spokesman) in the position of God’s enemy.[1]

When Jesus tells Peter to “get behind me” it is is generally interpreted to mean that Peter’s efforts to “correct” Jesus had presumed the disciple needed to take a leadership role (out in front of Jesus) in an effort to guide him. Jesus then ordered Peter to assume his proper place behind the Lord as a devoted follower and disciple.[6]

Note how Peter intended his rebuke of Jesus to be private, but Jesus “turns around” and makes his rebuke of Peter public — Jesus is not going to be “taken aside”.[1]

Observations:

  • A “three-day” journey is often used in the Old Testament in anticipation of some significant event (Gen. 30:36; Ex. 3:18; 5:3; 8:27; Num. 10:33; Josh. 1:11). A three-day fast itself also precedes some important events (1 Sam. 30:12; Esther 4:16).[1]
  • The embarking on a boat is a frequent narrative transitional device in Mark (3:9; 5:21; 6:32; 8:13) and is often the occasion for a significant revelation (4:1-9; 4:35-41; 6:45-52; 8:13-21).[1]
  • The word anastenazō (“to sigh or to groan deeply”) is rare, occuring only here in the New Testament and fewer than thirty times in all of Greek literature. A survey of its uses reveals that it is not so much an expression of anger or indignation so much as of dismay or despair.[1]
  • When Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you not yet see or understand?” they echo the thought of Isaiah 6:9 – an accusation against an unbelieving generation (also Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2; Ps. 115:5-6). Jesus chastises the disciples as being no better off than the “outsiders” referenced in chapter 4. Their privileged insight into the “mysteries of the Kingdom” seems for now to have deserted them.[1]
  • “Deny”, in this context, means to disassociate oneself completely from someone, to sever the relationship.
  • This is the first mention of the “cross” in the gospel.
  • This phrase “take up your cross” refers to the act of a condemned criminal carrying his own crossbar to the place of crucifixion. This would’ve been a well understood reference in Jesus day–a powerful metaphor for a painful, shameful death.[9]
  • In the Old Testament the most common Hebrew word for “glory” (kabod) was originally a commercial term (which referred to a pair of scales) meaning “to be heavy.” That which was heavy was valuable or had intrinsic worth.[9]

Discussion:

  • What signs do we ask of Jesus? What signs are we missing? Why do we need one?
  • Who does our culture say Jesus is? Who do we say Jesus is?
  • Just as Peter was told to “get behind” Jesus for trying to give him instructions on how the Messiah should act, how do we “get ahead” of Jesus with our ideas of what he should be doing?
  • How does one completely cut off a relationship with oneself (deny yourself) to follow Jesus? What does that look like in practical terms?
  • In the context of not being ashamed of Jesus, what does it mean to gain the whole world but lose your soul?

References:

  1. Catholic Answers
  2. Grace Through Faith
  3. Jewish Believer
  4. Theological Ramblings
  5. Turton’s Commentary
  6. Coffman’s Commentary
  7. Barnes’ Commentary
  8. Utley’s Commentary
  9. Dalmanutha Discovered
  10. Bethsaida – Wikipedia
  11. Caesarea Philippi – Wikipedia
  12. Messiah – Wikipedia