Mark 8:11 the Pharisees...began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven
It's ironic that these Pharisees would ask for a sign the day after Jesus had fed four thousand with seven loaves and a few fishes. There was a great difference between the multitude and the Pharisees. The multitude had followed Jesus for three days, many of them coming from great distances (v. 3). They had come to hear his message without consideration of where they should stay or even what they should eat. They had taken 'no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink?' (Matt. 6:31) As a result, they were literally fed by the Lord. Their faith was rewarded with an incredible miracle-a sign from heaven that Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah.
Now consider the Pharisees. A wicked and adulterous lot, they lay in wait to trap Jesus. They had not sought him as the Messiah, but challenged him as the greatest threat to their religious supremacy. They weren't concerned with his message; they were only concerned with how popular he was becoming. They hadn't followed him for days, going out into the deserted places of Galilee; they stayed in the town and waited, like hunters waiting for their prey. They deserved no miracle and so Jesus declared that 'no sign' should be given unto them.
Joseph F. Smith
"It is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign. Show me Latter-day Saints who have to feed upon miracles, signs and visions in order to keep them steadfast in the Church, and I will show you members of the Church who are not in good standing before God, and who are walking in slippery paths. It is not by marvelous manifestations unto us that we shall be established in the truth, but it is by humility and faithful obedience to the commandments and laws of God. When I as a boy first started out in the ministry, I would frequently go out and ask the Lord to show me some marvelous thing, in order that I might receive a testimony. But the Lord withheld marvels from me, and showed me the truth, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, until he made me to know the truth from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and until doubt and fear had been absolutely purged from me. He did not have to send an angel from the heavens to do this, nor did he have to speak with the trump of an archangel. By the whisperings of the still small voice of the Spirit of the living God, he gave to me the testimony I possess. And by this principle and power he will give to all the children of men a knowledge of the truth that will stay with them, and it will make them to know the truth, as God knows it, and to do the will of the Father as Christ does it. And no amount of marvelous manifestations will ever accomplish this." (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 7.)
Mark 8:12 he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign?
Neal A. Maxwell
"Why does this generation seek a sign? queried Jesus with a deep sigh. (See Mark 8:11.) The more wicked and adulterous the people of a particular period, the more they demand signs as a condition of belief. Sensual individuals crave and live by sensations. Disciples, instead, walk and 'overcome by faith' (D&C 76:53), accepting gratefully the evidence of things not seen which are true (see Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21) and using quietly God's spiritual gifts." ("Answer Me," Ensign, Nov. 1988, 31-32)
Mark 8:15 Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees
Gerald N. Lund
"Leaven is a symbol of corruption because of its tendency to spoil. Christ warned the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, defining it as the false teachings and the hypocrisy of these men (see Matt. 16:6-12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1). Following the actual Passover, the Israelites were commanded to observe the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, not only abstaining from any leaven for seven days, but also purging it out of their houses (see Ex. 12:18-19). Knowing that leaven is a type or symbol of corruption helps us see the beauty of this requirement. After deliverance from death and bondage by the blood of the Lamb, we are to purge all wickedness, pride, and hypocrisy from our lives." (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 24.)
Mark 8:23 he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town
Jesus had a huge public relations problem. What was it? He was becoming too popular-and for all the wrong reasons. News of his multiplying loaves and fishes for famishing followers must have spread like wildfire. Earlier, some had decided to take him by force and make him their king (John 6:15). In doing so, they were not interested so much in a spiritual leader as they were in a king who was capable of continually providing free lunch. They were not looking for that 'living bread which came down from heaven' (John 6:51).
When Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24-30), it was not so much to preach among the Gentiles as to find a place where he could rest from the continual onslaught of petitioners. But even there, 'he could not be hid' (Mark 7:24). With this background, we can see why Jesus would have walked a blind man all the way out of town before healing him. He would not relinquish his commission to heal the sick, but he didn't want the townsfolk to see the miracle. He was tired of being the world's greatest magician, the world's best source of free lunch, and the local hero-he had come for much higher reasons, and most the people were missing the point.
Mark 8:23-25 Two administrations are required to restore the man's sight
Remarkably, this miracle took two attempts to complete. What are we to learn from this singular case? Perhaps we are to understand that miracles wrought through the power of the priesthood are not always instantaneous. The process occasionally requires some revision. This is evident in the creation of the earth, for if all matter responded instantaneously to God's every command, then why did the creating Gods watch 'those things which they had ordered until they obeyed' (Abr 4:18)?
Charles A. Callis
"This is the only recorded example of a progressive cure-a progressive miracle. All the others wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ were instantaneous. There must be a lesson in this. Is it not reasonable to believe that this miracle is intended to exemplify in the lives of men the gradual progress of spiritual vision? Certainly it illustrates the methods employed in the spiritual kingdom." (Conference Report, October 1935, Second Day-Morning Meeting 65.)
Mark 8:27 Whom do men say that I am?
The Savior had a way of asking great questions. While Peter was privileged to answer this one, all men must answer the same question. Just who was Jesus of Nazareth? It's a question which all of us, sooner or later, will have to answer-and we will all answer correctly, for even the proudest knee will buckle and 'every tongue shall confess' that Jesus is the Christ (Rom. 14:11).
Carlos E. Asay
"Included in the New Testament are three questions of vital importance. The first was posed by Jesus on the coasts of Caesarea Philippi when he said to his disciples, 'Whom do men say that I ... am?' (Matt. 16:13.) Question two, Jesus asked the Pharisees: 'What think ye of Christ?' (Matt. 22:42.) The third was voiced by Pilate: 'What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?' (Matt. 27:22.)
"Few, if any, questions are more important than these three because what we say, think, and do with Jesus the Christ will have bearing upon our lives, both here and hereafter. If I regarded Jesus as being only a clever man, it would make little sense for me to follow him. If, however, I knew that he was the Son of God, I would be foolish to ignore his teachings and to flaunt his commandments. Permit me, therefore, to discuss, one-by-one, these questions with their eternal implications.
"Christ was well into his ministry at the time he asked his disciples, 'Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?' They answered, 'Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.' (Matt. 16:14.) Apparently, there were those who believed in reincarnation and who speculated that he was a returned prophet of old.
"Had the question been posed to others of that day, I suspect that some would have responded: 'Why he is only the son of Joseph, the carpenter. His mother is called Mary. And can anything good come out of Nazareth?' (See Matt. 13:53-58.)
"In our modern world, many men say that Jesus was a great and wise teacher, but nothing more. Some acknowledge him as being a prophet, but not the greatest. Others might acknowledge him as a prophet, perhaps even the greatest. Still others testify that he is more than a teacher, more than a prophet-much more!
"...The three questions about Christ which I have discussed are not trite. They are profound and worthy of our prayerful consideration. They require of us serious soul-searching." ("Three Questions," Ensign, Jan. 1984, 72)
Mark 8:29 Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ
Joseph B. Wirthlin
"We believe the first principle of the gospel is 'faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.' 'No [one] cometh unto the Father, but by [Him].' As His disciples, we echo boldly the words of Peter's resounding testimony to our Master: 'Thou art the Christ.' The burning witness of the Holy Spirit that we feel deep within our hearts prompts us to make this declaration humbly and gratefully. When we explain our regard for Jesus, we lovingly and plainly testify that He is 'that Christ, the Son of the living God.'" ("Christians in Belief and Action," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 70-71)
Mark 8:34 Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross
"There is a sense in which we as disciples take up our cross by applying the atoning blood of Christ, by repenting and coming unto him. Thus the death of the natural man is followed by the birth of the spiritual man and the rise to a newness of life. 'Our old man is crucified with him,' Paul said, 'that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin' (Rom. 6:6). To the Galatians Paul likewise taught: 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Gal. 2:20). From the Christian perspective, then, our earthly stains were affixed (with our Savior) to Golgotha's cross (see Col. 2:14). President Joseph F. Smith thus reminded us that 'having been born anew, which is the putting away of the old man sin, and putting on of the man Christ Jesus, we have become soldiers of the Cross, having enlisted under the banner of Jehovah for time and for eternity'
"We take up our cross as we seek to put down our sins and thereby enter the realm of divine experience. Thus Jesus instructed those who desired discipleship: 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments' (JST, Matt. 16:25-26; emphasis added). Having called the Nephites to a higher righteousness than that put forward in the Law, having cautioned them specifically against immorality, Jesus said: 'Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart; for it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell' (3 Ne. 12:29-30). It is presumably in this sense that Alma counseled his errant son Corianton: 'Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things' (Alma 39:9; emphasis added)." (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 39.)
Mark 8:35 whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it
Jeffrey R. Holland
"Surely his mission to Great Britain was one of those polar-star, firm-as-the-mountain experiences which would affect virtually everything else President Gordon B. Hinckley would do for the rest of his life.
"Sent first to Preston in Lancashire (where Heber C. Kimball and others had pioneered the first transatlantic mission nearly one hundred years before), Elder Hinckley found some of that discouragement common to missionaries facing new circumstances in a new land. He was not well physically, and as he went to his first street meeting in that impoverished mill town in the north of England, he recalls: 'I was terrified. I stepped up on that little stand and looked at that crowd of people that had gathered. They were dreadfully poor at that time in the bottom of the Depression. They looked rather menacing and mean, but I somehow stumbled through whatever I had to say.'
"Down in spirit and facing no success in missionary endeavors, Gordon wrote a letter to his father, saying: 'I am wasting my time and your money. I don't see any point in my staying here.' In due course a gentle but terse reply came from his father. That letter read: 'Dear Gordon. I have your letter [of such and such a date]. I have only one suggestion. Forget yourself and go to work, With love, Your Father.'
"President Hinckley says of that moment, 'I pondered his response and then the next morning in our scripture class we read that great statement of the Lord: `For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it` (Mark 8:35).
"'That simple statement, that promise, touched me. I got on my knees and made a covenant with the Lord that I would try to forget myself and go to work. I count that as the day of decision in my life. Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to the decision I made at that time.'" ("President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands," Ensign, June 1995, 8)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. I had a rich and wonderful mission experience, for which I shall ever be grateful." (Faith: The Essence of True Religion [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 115.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"My plea is-if we want joy in our hearts, if we want the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, let us forget ourselves and reach out. Let us put in the background our own personal, selfish interests and reach out in service to others. In so doing, we will find the truth of the Master's great promise of glad tidings." ("Whosoever Will Save His Life," Ensign, Aug. 1982, 6)
Mark 8:36 what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
David B. Haight
"Jesus taught, 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8:36.)
"Your character is yours alone to build. No one can injure your character but you.
"Life is a competition not with others, but with ourselves. We should seek each day to live stronger, better, truer lives; each day to master some weakness of yesterday; each day to repair a mistake; each day to surpass ourselves." ("The Responsibility of Young Aaronic Priesthood Bearers," Ensign, May 1981, 42)
Durrel A. Woolsey
"My beloved brethren of the priesthood, the Lord Jesus Christ said, 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8:36.) Could we add, 'lose his own soul, and his family'? ...
"President Joseph F. Smith quoted from the Savior, as stated in Mark: 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8:36.) Then President Smith continued, 'What would it profit me, though I should go out into the world and win strangers to the fold of God and lose my own children? Oh! God, let me not lose my own. I can not afford to lose mine, whom God has given to me and whom I am responsible for before the Lord, and who are dependent upon me for guidance, for instruction, for proper influence.' (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975, p. 462.)
"The salvation of our families will require all that we have to save all that we have." ("An Eternal Key," Ensign, Nov. 1990, 43-44)
Mark 8:38 whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Several years ago I was speaking with a friend concerning a mutual acquaintance, a man looked upon as highly successful in his vocation. 'But what of his activity in the Church?' I asked. To which my friend responded, 'He knows in his heart that it is true, but he is afraid of it. He is fearful that if he were to acknowledge his Church membership and live its standards, he would be cut off from the social circle in which he moves.'
"I reflected, 'The day will come, though possibly not until old age, when in hours of quiet reflection this man will know that he traded his birthright for a mess of pottage (see Gen. 25:34); and there will be remorse and sorrow and tears, for he will come to see that he not only denied the Lord in his own life, but also in effect denied Him before his children, who have grown up without a faith to cling to.'
"The Lord Himself said, 'Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels' (Mark 8:38)." ("And Peter Went Out and Wept Bitterly," Ensign, Mar. 1995, 5)
JST Mark 8:43 he that layeth down his life for my sake and the gospel's shall come with him, and shall be clothed with his glory in the cloud
"I do not regard my own life. I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our enemies do? Only kill the body, and their power is then at an end. Stand firm, my friends; never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth, will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end, and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities, and eternal dominions." (Daniel H. Ludlow, Selected Writings of Daniel H. Ludlow: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 383.)