Mark 8


Four thousand persons fed with seven loaves and a few small

fishes, 1-8.

Christ refuses to give any farther sign to the impertinent

Pharisees, 10-12.

Warns his disciples against the corrupt doctrine of the

Pharisees and of Herod, 13-21.

He restores sight to a blind man, 22-26.

Asks his disciples what the public thought of him, 27-30.

Acknowledges himself to be the Christ, and that he must suffer,


And shows that all his genuine disciples must take up their

cross, suffer in his cause, and confess him before men, 34-38.


Verse 1. The multitude being very great] Or rather, There was

again a great multitude. Instead of παμπολλου, very great, I

read παλινπολλου, again a great, which is the reading of

BDGLM, fourteen others, all the Arabic, Coptic, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Gothic, Vulgate, and Itala, and of many Evangelistaria.

Griesbach approves of this reading. There had been such a

multitude gathered together once before, who were fed in the same

way. See Mr 6:34, &c.

Verse 2. Having nothing to eat] If they had brought any

provisions with them, they were now entirely expended; and they

stood in immediate need of a supply.

Verse 3. For divers of them came from far.] And they could

not possibly reach their respective homes without perishing,

unless they got food.

Verse 4. &c.] See on Mt 14:14; 15:35.

Verse 7. And they, had a few small fishes] This is not

noticed in the parallel place, Mt 15:36.

Verse 10. Dalmanutha.] See Clarke on Mt 15:39.

Verse 12. And he sighed deeply in his spirit] Or having

deeply groaned-so the word αναστεναξας properly means. He was

exceedingly affected at their obstinacy and hardness of heart.

See Mt 16:1-4.

Verse 14. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread] See

all this, to Mr 8:21, explained at large on Mt 16:4-12. In the

above chapter, an account is given of the Pharisees, Sadducees,

and Herodians.

Verse 22. They bring a blind man unto him] Christ went about

to do good, and wherever he came he found some good to be done;

and so should we, if we had a proper measure of the same zeal and

love for the welfare of the bodies and souls of men.

Verse 23. And he took the blind man by the hand] Giving him a

proof of his readiness to help him, and thus preparing him for the

cure which he was about to work.

Led him out of the town] Thus showing the inhabitants that he

considered them unworthy of having another miracle wrought among

them. He had already deeply deplored their ingratitude and

obstinacy: See Clarke on Mt 11:21. When a people do not make a

proper improvement of the light and grace which they receive from God,

their candlestick is removed-even the visible Church becomes there

extinct; and the candle is put out-no more means of spiritual

illumination are afforded to the unfaithful inhabitants: Re 2:5.

When he had spit on his eyes] There is a similar transaction

to this mentioned by John, Joh 9:6. It is likely this was done

merely to separate the eyelids; as, in certain cases of blindness,

they are found always gummed together. It required a miracle to

restore the sight, and this was done in consequence of Christ

having laid his hands upon the blind man: it required no miracle

to separate the eyelids, and, therefore, natural means only were

employed-this was done by rubbing them with spittle; but whether

by Christ, or by the blind man, is not absolutely certain.

See Clarke on Mr 7:33.

It has always been evident that false miracles have been wrought

without reason or necessity, and without any obvious advantage;

and they have thereby been detected: on the contrary, true

miracles have always vindicated themselves by their obvious

utility and importance; nothing ever being effected by them that

could be performed by natural means.

If he saw aught.] ει, if, is wanting in the Syriac, all

the Persic and Arabic, and in the AEthiopic; and τιβλεπεις,

Dost thou see any thing? is the reading of CD, Coptic, AEthiopic,

all the Arabic and Persic.

Verse 24. I see men as trees, walking.] His sight was so

imperfect that he could not distinguish between men and trees,

only by the motion of the former.

Verse 25. And saw every man clearly.] But instead of απαντας,

all men, several excellent MSS., and the principal versions, have

απαντα, all things, every object; for the view he had of them

before was indistinct and confused. Our Lord could have restored

this man to sight in a moment; but he chose to do it in the way

mentioned in the text, to show that he is sovereign of his own

graces; and to point out that, however insignificant means may

appear in themselves, they are divinely efficacious when he

chooses to work by them; and that, however small the first

manifestations of mercy may be, they are nevertheless the

beginnings of the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace.

Reader, art thou in this man's state? Art thou blind? Then come

to Jesus that he may restore thee. Hast thou a measure of light?

Then pray that he may lay his hands again on thee, that thou

mayest be enabled to read thy title clear to the heavenly


Verse 26. He sent him away to his house] So it appears that

this person did not belong to Bethsaida, for, in going to his

house, he was not to enter into the village.

This miracle is not mentioned by any other of the evangelists.

It affords another proof that Mark did not abridge Matthew's


Verse 27. And Jesus went out, &c.] See on Mt 16:13-20.

Verse 29. Thou art the Christ.] Three MSS. and some versions

add, the Son of the living God.

Verse 32. And he spake that saying] Concerning the certainty

and necessity of his sufferings-openly: with great plainness,

παρρησια, confidence, or emphasis, so that the disciples now

began fully to understand him. This is an additional observation

of St. Mark. For Peter's reproof, See Clarke on Mt 16:22, &c.

Verse 34. Whosoever will come after me] It seems that Christ

formed, on the proselytism of the Jews, the principal qualities

which he required in the proselytes of his covenant.

The first condition of proselytism among the Jews was, that he

that came to embrace their religion should come voluntarily, and

that neither force nor influence should be employed in this

business. This is also the first condition required by Jesus

Christ, and which he considers as the foundation of all the rest:

-If a man be willing to come after me.

The second condition required in the Jewish proselyte was, that

he should perfectly renounce all his prejudices, his errors, his

idolatry, and every thing that concerned his false religion; and

that he should entirely separate himself from his most intimate

friends and acquaintances. It was on this ground that the Jews

called proselytism a new birth, and proselytes new-born, and new

men; and our Lord requires men to be born again, not only of

water, but by the Holy Ghost. See Joh 3:5. All this our Lord

includes in this word, Let him renounce himself. To this the

following scriptures refer: Mt 10:33; Joh 3:3, 5, 2Co 5:17.

The third condition on which a person was admitted into the

Jewish Church as a proselyte was, that he should submit to the

yoke of the Jewish law, and bear patiently the inconveniences and

sufferings with which a profession of the Mosaic religion might be

accompanied. Christ requires the same condition; but, instead of

the yoke of the law, he brings in his own doctrine, which he

calls his yoke, Mt 11:29:

and his cross, the taking up of which not only implies a bold

profession of Christ crucified, but also a cheerful submitting to

all the sufferings and persecutions to which he might be exposed,

and even to death itself.

The fourth condition was, that they should solemnly engage to

continue in the Jewish religion, faithful even unto death. This

condition Christ also requires; and it is comprised in this word,

Let him FOLLOW me. See the following verses; and see, on the

subject of proselytism, Ru 1:16, 17.

Verse 35. For whosoever will save his life] On this and the

following verses, see Mt 16:24, &c.

Verse 38. Whosoever-shall be ashamed of me] Our Lord hints

here at one of the principal reasons of the incredulity of the

Jews,-they saw nothing in the person of Jesus Christ which

corresponded to the pompous notions which they had formed of the


If Jesus Christ had come into the world as a mighty and opulent

man, clothed with earthly glories and honours, he would have had a

multitude of partisans, and most of them hypocrites.

And of my words] This was another subject of offence to the

Jews: the doctrine of the cross must be believed; a suffering

Messiah must be acknowledged; and poverty and affliction must be

borne; and death, perhaps, suffered in consequence of becoming his


Of him, and of his words, in this sense, the world is, to this

day, ashamed.

Of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed] As he refused to

acknowledge me before men, so will I refuse to acknowledge him

before God and his angels. Terrible consequence of the rejection

of Christ! And who can help him whom the only Saviour eternally

disowns. Reader! Lay this subject seriously to heart; and see

the notes on Mt 16:24, &c., and at the end of that chapter.

See Clarke on Mt 16:28.

ALL the subjects contained in this chapter are very interesting;

but particularly: 1. The miraculous feeding of the multitudes,

which is a full, unequivocal proof of the supreme Divinity of

Jesus Christ: in this miracle he truly appears in his creative

energy, with which he has associated the tenderest benevolence

and humanity. The subject of such a prince must ever be safe; the

servant of such a master must ever have kind usage; the follower

of such a teacher can never want nor go astray.

2. The necessity of keeping the doctrine of the Gospel

uncorrupt, is strongly inculcated in the caution to avoid the

leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod: the doctrine of the cross

must not only be observed and held inviolate, but that doctrine

must never be mixed with worldly politics. Time-serving is

abominable in the sight of God: it shows that the person has

either no fixed principle of religion, or that he is not under

the influence of any.

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