Up to this point, Jesus has been performing miracles and other signs in testimony to his identity and mission. By the end of chapter 8, propelled by Peter’s confession of faith (v. 29), the mystery of Jesus’s identity and mission will be revealed and scope of both will be brought into focus both for Jesus and for those who would call themselves disciples.
The chapter begins with Jesus feeding the multitude (vv. 1-10). The Eucharistic overtones are obvious here: notice v. 6. Jesus generosity is lavish to the point of overabundance.
Then Jesus has an altercation with the Pharisees (vv. 11-21). It’s interesting that the Pharisees demand a sign from Jesus after he has already multiplied the loaves and fishes, not to mention the sign that follows in vv. 22-26. The healing of the blind man here is interesting. Notice v. 24 and what the blind man says he sees- ‘men walking around like trees.’ The image here is that of the Cross- Jesus with his arms spread on the Cross would like the extending branches of a tree. A prefiguring, no doubt, of Jesus’s crucifixion.
But now we come to the meat of the Gospel, the center of Mark’s Gospel is Peter’s Confession of Faith in v. 29. Peter’s confession of Faith in Christ Jesus will then set into motion Jesus revealing even more about who he is and the fullness of his mission, culminating in the Crucifixion. But then in vv. 34-38 Jesus also sets out the conditions of following him. Those are tough words from Jesus and ones that may not be all that pleasant to even our modern ears and sensibilities.
The costs of discipleship are real. And true discipleship will cost us something. I read that somewhere, or heard it put this way: If being a Catholic Christian and being a Disciple of Jesus is easy for you, then you’re not doing it right. I think that’s exactly what Jesus is getting at here. And I think that’s our Point for Prayer.
Point for Prayer
Is my discipleship to the Lord costing me something? Am I forced to hand over ego, pride, personal preference, or plans so that I can follow the Lord more closely? Am I willing to do so?