Shalom, and welcome to V’ahavtah Yisroel, a Hebrew phrase which means “You Shall Love Israel.” We hope you’ll stay with us for the next 30 minutes as our teacher, Dr. Baruch, shares his expository teaching from the Bible. Dr. Baruch is the senior lecturer at the Zera Avraham Institute based in Israel. Although all courses are taught in Hebrew at the Institute, Dr. Baruch is pleased to share this weekly address in English. To find out more about our work in Israel, please visit us on the web at loveisrael.org. That’s one word, loveisrael.org. Now here’s Baruch with today’s lesson.
Dr. Baruch: We have learned over and over that the foundation of Messiah’s teaching was the kingdom of God. When we talk about the kingdom, there must be a King, and we know that king is Messiah. But the question is this: who is Messiah, and what will Messiah do? That is, how is he going to bring about that kingdom? What does he want to do in your life, in my life? Those two questions, who is Messiah and what will Messiah do, are critical if we’re going to find ourselves in that kingdom of God.
Take out your Bibles and look with me to the Book of Mark and chapter eight, the Book of Mark and chapter eight. Now, today we’re entering into the second half of the Book of Mark. We’re coming to the conclusion of chapter eight. And what’s important to see here is that, as we began chapter one, two, all the way up until where we are today, chapter eight, we see simply hints to the fact that Yahshua, that he is the Messiah. We see that in some of his teaching, we see that in many of the miracles that he did, certain miracles that indicated that indeed he is the Messiah.
But when we come to this passage at the end of Mark chapter eight, right at the halfway point, we see without any doubt that there is a declaration that Yahshua is indeed the Messiah. Now, as I said, that’s only half the question. Because knowing who the Messiah is, that’s wonderful. But do we also understand the work of Messiah, what he has done, what he’s going to do, and how that will relate to you, not just in this age, but for all eternity?
So look with me, if you would, to the first verse of our passage today, Mark chapter eight and verse 27. Now, in this statement that we’re going to see concerning Messiah, Yahshua as the anointed one of Israel, as the King, it’s very significant where it took place. If you were to ask me, “Where should this declaration take place?” I would say Jerusalem. But that’s not where it happened.
Verse 27: “And Yahshua went out, and his disciples into the villages of Caesarea of Philippi.” This should not be confused with Caesarea by the sea that we encounter later on in the Book of Acts. Caesarea Philippi is in the North of Israel at the beginning of the Golan Heights. And pay attention to that name, Caesarea of Philippi. It just wasn’t one village, it was a group of villages, and the name reflected what? The Roman Empire. Caesarea of Philippi. And that place, as we’ll see in a few minutes, was a place that was known for idolatry. Even though it was a Roman compound, there were numerous Jewish individuals that lived in this area.
Now, one of the things that’s important about this location is that the Banias river, which is really one of the main tributaries that flow into the Jordan River, the beginning of that river comes out of the earth at that location. And because water is so important for life, this place was marked as a great, great indicator of God’s blessing. Because water just flowed all the time. And because of that, it was marked as a place for idolatry.
Now, what I want you to see is this. Isn’t it odd to you that Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, would come to a place, Caesarea Philippi, to see that declaration, that he is the Messiah, made? But here’s the truth. Messiah came in order to set people free of idolatry, to change their perspective, to show them the truth. So it’s very appropriate. If you want to bring sinners to repentance, you go to them. And that’s exactly why he went to Caesarea Phillipi.
Now, what else do we know about this verse? Well, look again in verse 27, “and on the way he began to ask his disciples a very important question, saying to them,” the word in Greek is the word [Greek 00:05:39]. Now, it can have two meanings. It can mean “who”, or it can mean “what”. In the west, we usually think this or that, but the Greek mind, as well as the Hebrew mind, it can be both. It doesn’t have to be either/or; both can be at play here.
So he’s saying to his disciples a very important question, “Who do men,” and remember something: Yahshua, Jewish. All the disciples, Jewish. And therefore when he says, “Who do men,” we know in the Book of Galatians that Jewish individuals for the most part didn’t have associations with gentiles. So it’s obviously here a question concerning Israel, “Who do the Jewish people think that I am?”
And notice what the response is. Move on to verse 28: “And they said to him, saying John the Baptist, or Elijah, and others said, ‘or one of the prophets’.” So some thought John the Baptist, some thought Elijah, some thought one of the prophets. You know, they all have something in common. What is that? They all are dead.
This verse tells us something. It tells us a lot about where Judaism was 2,000 years ago, and where it still is today. What they’re speaking about here is what’s known in Hebrew as [Hebrew 00:07:15]. We might know it in English as reincarnation. So it was very clear within Judaism 2,000 years ago that reincarnation was a part of their faith. Now, what’s problematic about that? Well, we know that there’s no evidence of such a doctrine in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, we know that this is heresy.
We know in the scripture that the word of God says it’s appointed to man to die once, and after that the judgment. There’s not a reincarnation, there’s not a second time and a third time and a fourth time, as Judaism teaches, until that soul of the individual gets it right. That soul just keeps coming back in different people, according to Judaism, until the soul is perfected. And that’s why Judaism teaches, there is to every Jew a portion in the age to come in the kingdom. So this idea of lost-ness isn’t really a thought within the Jewish mindset. And that’s going to be very important in understanding the words of Peter in a few minutes.
Well, let’s move on, verse 29. He asked them, “Whom do people say I am? What do they say about me?” And then he turns, next verse, verse 29, and he asks them, “But you,” and the emphasis is on you, meaning the disciples, “whom do you say that I am?” It’s probably not surprising to us that Peter would be the first one to answer that question. And notice what he says, he says, “You are the mashiach, the anointed one, Christos, the Christ.” Most Bibles, not all, but most have an additional phrase, and that is “the son of God.” Now, my personal opinion is that that is in the original text. The reason why? Well, there’s some evidence to believe that.
First of all, if we look back in the very first chapter of the Book of Mark, we know something. It speaks about the beginning of the Messiah, and it identifies him as the son of God. Likewise, we know something else. At the end of the Book of Mark, when Messiah is before the Sanhedrin, standing before the high priest Caiaphas, he asks him a question. He says, “Tell me the truth. Are you the son of the most high or the blessed one?” Obviously a reference to God. At the beginning and at the end, Messiah is presented as the son of God, so it shouldn’t be surprising to us that here in the middle of the gospel, once again, Mark’s gospel wants to emphasize Yahshua, the Messiah, the son of God.
What’s interesting is what Messiah says after this. I mean, in one sense, and we know it in another gospel, he’s well pleased with that, that they’ve come to the conclusion: Yahshua, he is the Messiah. They’ve answered the question “who is Messiah”. But remember, that’s only half the questions. We also need to understand the “what”, that is, what is Messiah going to do? What is he going to bring about? How is it that we relate to him and his work?
So what happens? Verse 30: “And he warned them.” Now, that’s an important word, it’s a very, very strong word. He emphasizes what he’s going to say. He warns them that they should, and the next word, again it can mean one of two things. It can mean nothing or no one, and again, I believe both are appropriate. Both is the desire of the text. He warns them to say nothing to no one and nothing about “what about him”, that is, that he’s the Messiah.
Now, doesn’t that seem odd to you? I mean, why would Yahshua not want that the disciples would tell everyone about him? And the answer is this. Even though they knew the “who”, they were utterly confused about the “what”, what Messiah was going to do. You see, their view of Messiah was one that was rooted in selfish desires, rooted in what they wanted. They wanted to support Yahshua as King, the one who was going to usher in that kingdom. But we need to understand that there’s a process to get to that kingdom, and they didn’t want anything to do with that process.
And what happens? Well, let’s move on, look with me now to verse 31. After hearing the “who”, Messiah begins to teach them. He says, “Don’t say anything to anyone,” until what? Until you understand the “what”, what Messiah is. Verse 31: “And he began to teach them that,” and there’s a very important Greek word: Delta Epsilon Iota, the word dei. That word, although it’s small, it has great significance. It means something which is absolutely necessary for the will of God. So when Messiah, and he uses this word frequently, when he says this word dei, it means this is absolutely God’s will, it must take place.
Now, if that’s the case, who can argue? Who wants to fight with God? Who wants to oppose his purposes, his plans, his will? So he tells them it’s absolutely necessary for something to take place. And what is that? For the son of man. Now, here again, we can see in the scriptures how Yahshua is related to as savior, as Lord, as teacher, as healer, as miracle worker, as prophet. So, however the text reveals Messiah in a given situation, it has significance.
And what do we see here? The son of man. What’s the significance of that term? And by the way, of all the terms that are used in the scriptures to relate to Messiah Yahshua, the one that Yahshua chose frequently was this, the son of man. Why? Well, in Judaism, there are a couple different definitions, meanings, for the word “son”. When it’s used in this sense, it means servant. Servant of what? A servant of man. He’s relating to the fact that Messiah, here it is, the “what”, that Messiah came to do something, he came to serve mankind. How?
Well, keep reading, look again, verse 31, “And he began to teach them that it’s necessary, absolutely necessary, that the son of man,” and I want to translate this literally, “much should suffer.” That’s important because the emphasis is on the word “much”. It doesn’t mean that he’ll suffer many things, although he did, but the emphasis is on how much he will suffer. So the first thing that Messiah wants to teach them about his call, his role, what Messiah is, is that there is a suffering Messiah. And that didn’t go along with their agenda.
He brought them to what place? Caesarea Philippi, a place known for idolatry. If you go there today, you can see right by where that water comes forth from the ground, flows mightily, you can see behind it a cave, and you can see places where they, 2,000 years ago, carved out places so they can place their idols, their statues, so that they could worship.
So in this place of idolatry. Why? Because the disciples, and we alluded to that last week, the disciples had this idolatrous spirit. But don’t be too hard on them, because you and I have that same tendency. What’s idolatry? Idolatry is when the focus is on self. “But,” you say, “it’s religious.” Yes, lots of times we use religion. We will turn and manipulate the word of God so it says what we want it to say, to legitimatize our actions, our beliefs, our wants, our plans. So it may be very spiritual. It might have the right words, but not the right significance.
Messiah tells them that he is going to suffer much. But keep reading, “And to be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes.” Now pay attention to that word, “rejected”. Very interesting word, it’s actually two Greek words. The first is [Greek 00:16:52], and it’s a prefix, and the second word, [Greek 00:16:57]. [Greek 00:17:00] is a word where we get the English word document from. This word literally means to put forth proof or evidence. But when you have that prefix attached to it, it means to take this evidence and set it aside.
So the chief priests, the elders, the scribes, who were the experts in biblical interpretation, they set aside the evidence so what? So that Messiah would be put to death. Now, it’s very important that we see that word, that verb, to be put to death, is in the passive in Greek. Which means something caused him to be put to death. And what was that? That the leadership set aside the evidence, the truth, that was presented to them. They set it aside so that he could be put to death.
But look at the last part of this verse, “But after three days, to rise.” That’s important, that phrase “after three days”. In Judaism, we know that you come to three full days, and you begin the fourth, but you don’t count it as a fourth day until it’s fully completed. When I was younger, I ran track. You run the first lap, and you begin the second, but that number doesn’t turn to two until you complete it. Same thing here. Messiah, he was in that tomb three days and three nights. And on the third day, he rose from the dead.
And that’s exactly what he’s promising, but we see over and over, even though Yahshua taught repeatedly that he was going to go up to Jerusalem for Passover, that he would be rejected, he would be betrayed and turned in to the hands of leaders, and on the third day, what? Well, he would die, but on the third day rise again. They didn’t hear that resurrection. They only focus upon what? That he would be put to death.
Why is that? Well, theologically, they did not pay attention to “on the third day rise again” because the resurrection is synonymous with the kingdom. The problem is, they weren’t thinking about the kingdom. And the question is, are you? At the forefront of your thoughts, is it the kingdom of God? Do you understand what it’s going to take for you to enter into that kingdom? What must take place? Well, the answer was already said, Messiah must suffer much.
Move on to the next verse. He was saying these things, and verse 32 tells us how he was. The Greek word that appears here means plainly or frankly, it means clearly. There was nothing that was ambiguous about his statement. It was very clear that he was going to what? That he was going to suffer much, but on the third day rise. And verse 32 says, “And plainly this word he was speaking.” And what happens? Well, that phrase “was speaking” is in the imperfect, which means it begins but it’s cut off, it’s interrupted. And who’s the interruption? Peter.
Verse 32. It tells us that Peter, taking him aside, he began to rebuke him. Now, we’re going to come across that word rebuke in a few minutes, but there’s an important distinction. It says, concerning Peter, that he began to rebuke him, and that means a process. It just doesn’t mean that he says no, it means that he began to argue, and it begins to set straight, according to Peter’s understanding, what the Messiah should be.
And we see a very, very interesting outcome for that verse, verse 33. “But,” and that’s an important word, it means in contrast to what Peter’s doing. Now, I realize many Bibles simply translate it as the word “and”, but it means in contrast. In contrast to what Peter was saying, what happens? Well, Yahshua turning, and hear again, this word turning is in the passive. He was caused to turn. Why? Well, what does it say? “And turning and seeing the disciples.”
You see, Peter, he was rebuking Messiah publicly. Therefore, Yahshua seeing that, also had to set things straight before the disciples, that they would know exactly what Peter’s attitude, his perspective, what he believed, where it originated from. And where is that? Well, what did Messiah say to Peter? He says two things. And here again, lots of times we try to clean up the literalness of the text so that we understand it better, it makes sense to us. But we’ve talked about many times, we ought not do that. He says, basically, go away. Then he says, “Get behind me, Satan.” And that phrase “get behind me” is going to appear in a few minutes. He says, “Go away, get behind me, Satan.”
Now, there’s no question that he’s likening Peter, and Peter’s perspective, his words, to that which fulfills the agenda of Satan. At the end of the verse, he says something that’s very concerning, very, very problematic. Because he tells Peter, “Because you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of man.” So in another way, we can understand it this way. You’re thinking, not like God, you’re thinking like man.
Now, what is Peter? He’s a man. I mean, if I was a dog, I’d think like a dog. If I was a horse, I’d think like a horse. But since I’m a man, I think as a man. That’s problematic? It is absolutely problematic. We cannot think as human beings. And that’s why the scripture says, “If anyone is in Messiah, he becomes a new creation.” Me, in my original state, stained with sin, with my mind, no matter how intelligent you may be, what education you may have received, if you think like a man, you’re going to be doing what? Fulfilling the direction, the path, the will of Satan.
And that’s why Paul tells us in the Book of Romans chapter 12, he tells us that we must be transformed. Here again, most Bibles say “by the renewing of your mind”. It doesn’t say that in the texts, it says “by means of the renewed mind”. You see, it’s not speaking about a new and improved me; it’s talking about a new creation. Not that I go through a process, I become new absolutely, regenerated. The mind that I need to utilize is no longer my mind, but the mind of Messiah which is implanted within me. And that’s why it’s so important that we understand, when your Messiah says you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of man. Let me put it another way. When we think the things of man, we are practicing idolatry.
Now, let’s move on, verse 34. Yahshua turns to the crowd and he begins to teach. He begins to teach the people along with his disciples, and he says to them, “If anyone wants after me to follow, that same phrase “after me”, it’s emphatic. After him follow. If anyone wants to follow after Messiah, what does he say? That he must “deny himself and take up his cross and then follow after me”. This word of denial. Well, let me tell you, living a life of denial of self is the exact opposite of idolatry. Idolatry is all about me getting my needs met.
Furthermore, he says, “For if anyone wants to save his life, he shall lose it.” It’s paradoxical. And that’s why in our national mind, our natural mind, we always miss out. “If anyone wants to save his life, he’s going to lose it. But he who loses it for my sake, and for the gospel,” literally it says “on account of me and the gospel”. Why is that so important? Because this verse unites the gospel and Messiah as one.
He finally concludes in this section, and says in verse 36, “For what does it benefit a man, as he should profit the whole world, not just part of it, but the whole world, if he forfeits his life.” For what can a man exchange for his soul? So we are in a very dubious position. We cannot move to sustain self and enter into the kingdom. It’s only when we let go of everything that makes us who we are. Our will, our desire, our wants. When we go against that natural sense to preserve self, it’s when we let it go, for why? For Messiah and that gospel. A gospel that speaks denial, a gospel that is one of shame and suffering and death. It’s only when we take a hold of that, which is symbolizing the cross, are we going to find life.
And then finally he says, we’ll close with this statement, “For whoever is ashamed of me and my word in this adulterous and sinful generation, of this one also I will be ashamed when I come in my father’s glory with his holy angels.” The key here is “my father’s glory”. That is going to be expressed when? In the kingdom of God.
We’re out of time. Until next week, when we continue on into Mark’s gospel and chapter nine.
Speaker 1: Well, we hope you will benefit from today’s message and share it with someone else. Please plan to join us each week at this time and on this station for the radio edition of loveisrael.org. Again, to find out more about us, please visit us at our website, loveisrael.org. There you will find articles and several other lectures from our teacher, Dr. Baruch. These teachings are in video form. You may download them or watch them in streaming video. Until next week, may the Lord bless you and our Messiah Yahshua, that is Jesus, as you walk with him. Shalom from Israel.