The Feeding of the Four Thousand.* 1In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,a he summoned the disciples and said, 2“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” 4His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” 5Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied. 6* He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. 7They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. 8They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets. 9There were about four thousand people.
The Demand for a Sign. 11* The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him,b seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.c 12He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.
The Leaven of the Pharisees. 14d They had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15* He enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. 17When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?e 18Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember,f 19when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” 20“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered [him], “Seven.” 21He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
The Blind Man of Bethsaida.* 22When they arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?”g 24Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” 25Then he laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. 26Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”
III. THE MYSTERY BEGINS TO BE REVEALED
Peter’s Confession About Jesus.* 27Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.h Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” 29And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” 30Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
The First Prediction of the Passion. 31i He began to teach them that the Son of Man* must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. 32He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
The Conditions of Discipleship. 34He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said* to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.j 35For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel* will save it.k 36What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? 37What could one give in exchange for his life? 38Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”l
* [8:1–10] The two accounts of the multiplication of loaves and fishes (Mk 8:1–10; 6:31–44) have eucharistic significance. Their similarity of structure and themes but dissimilarity of detail are considered by many to refer to a single event that, however, developed in two distinct traditions, one Jewish Christian and the other Gentile Christian, since Jesus in Mark’s presentation (Mk 7:24–37) has extended his saving mission to the Gentiles.
* [8:11–12] The objection of the Pharisees that Jesus’ miracles are unsatisfactory for proving the arrival of God’s kingdom is comparable to the request of the crowd for a sign in Jn 6:30–31. Jesus’ response shows that a sign originating in human demand will not be provided; cf. Nm 14:11, 22.
* [8:15] The leaven of the Pharisees…of Herod: the corruptive action of leaven (1 Cor 5:6–8; Gal 5:9) was an apt symbol of the evil dispositions both of the Pharisees (Mk 8:11–13; 7:5–13) and of Herod (Mk 6:14–29) toward Jesus. The disciples of Jesus are warned against sharing such rebellious attitudes toward Jesus; cf. Mk 8:17, 21.
* [8:22–26] Jesus’ actions and the gradual cure of the blind man probably have the same purpose as in the case of the deaf man (Mk 7:31–37). Some commentators regard the cure as an intended symbol of the gradual enlightenment of the disciples concerning Jesus’ messiahship.
* [8:27–30] This episode is the turning point in Mark’s account of Jesus in his public ministry. Popular opinions concur in regarding him as a prophet. The disciples by contrast believe him to be the Messiah. Jesus acknowledges this identification but prohibits them from making his messianic office known to avoid confusing it with ambiguous contemporary ideas on the nature of that office. See further the notes on Mt 16:13–20.
* [8:31] Son of Man: an enigmatic title. It is used in Dn 7:13–14 as a symbol of “the saints of the Most High,” the faithful Israelites who receive the everlasting kingdom from the Ancient One (God). They are represented by a human figure that contrasts with the various beasts who represent the previous kingdoms of the earth. In the Jewish apocryphal books of 1 Enoch and 4 Ezra the “Son of Man” is not, as in Daniel, a group, but a unique figure of extraordinary spiritual endowments, who will be revealed as the one through whom the everlasting kingdom decreed by God will be established. It is possible though doubtful that this individualization of the Son of Man figure had been made in Jesus’ time, and therefore his use of the title in that sense is questionable. Of itself, this expression means simply a human being, or, indefinitely, someone, and there are evidences of this use in pre-Christian times. Its use in the New Testament is probably due to Jesus’ speaking of himself in that way, “a human being,” and the later church’s taking this in the sense of the Jewish apocrypha and applying it to him with that meaning. Rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes: the supreme council called the Sanhedrin was made up of seventy-one members of these three groups and presided over by the high priest. It exercised authority over the Jews in religious matters. See note on Mt 8:20.
* [8:34–35] This utterance of Jesus challenges all believers to authentic discipleship and total commitment to himself through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it…will save it: an expression of the ambivalence of life and its contrasting destiny. Life seen as mere self-centered earthly existence and lived in denial of Christ ends in destruction, but when lived in loyalty to Christ, despite earthly death, it arrives at fullness of life.