Third Sunday of Lent

Mark 8:34-9:1


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34  And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.


35  For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.




36  For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?


37  For what can a man give in return for his life?


38  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."



9:1  And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."

34 Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον σὺν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὅστις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι.

35 ὃς γὰρ ἂν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι, ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ψυχὴν ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗτος σώσει αὐτήν.

36 τί γὰρ ὠφελήσει ἄνθρωπον ἐὰν κερδήσῃ τὸν κόσμον ὅλον, καὶ ζημιωθῇ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ;

37 ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ;

38 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν ἐπαισχυνθῇ με καὶ τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους ἐν τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ μοιχαλίδι καὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ, καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαισχυνθήσεται αὐτὸν ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δόξῃ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων τῶν ἁγίων.

 1 ΚΑΙ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἰσί τινες τῶν ὧδε ἑστηκότων, οἵτινες οὐ μὴ γεύσωνται θανάτου ἕως ἂν ἴδωσι τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐληλυθυῖαν ἐν δυνάμει.


Larger Thought Unit

This unit extends over Mark 8:22-10:52.  This can be seen in the opening story of the healing of the blind man beginning in 8:22 and ending with the healing of the blind Bartimaeus in 10:46-52.  Also in this section are the three predictions of Christ in which he teaches his disciples about his passion and crucifixion.  The central issues are the blindness of the disciples to the teaching of Jesus, on the one hand, and the gospel of the cross (1 Cor 1:18), on the other hand.  It is significant that the introduction to today’s reading is the rebuke of Peter who, blinded by his own misunderstanding, forces Christ to rebuke him with the harshest of words: ‘Satan.’  The key ultimately is to let Christ heal us by faith and for us then to follow him ‘on the way,’ as Bartimaeus will do at the end of the unit.



This passage follows immediately Jesus’ harsh rebuke to Peter who was addressed as ‘Satan’ (8:33), Peter did not understand that the true gospel is the one he, Peter, agreed upon at the Jerusalem meeting (Gal 2:1-10) and then reneged upon at Antioch (Gal 2:11-14). The true gospel (see ‘the truth of the gospel’ in Gal 2.5, 14) was preached all along by Paul, who refers to it as “the word, namely the word that carries the meaning of the cross” (Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ /; 1 Cor 1:18), i.e., the gospel that presents God’s messiah as “cursed by God” (Gal 3:13).  As such this messiah becomes “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:23-24). The link to ‘the gospel’ is made clear by Mark who, among all the evangelists, has the additional “(for) the gospel’s (sake)” after “for my sake” (Mk 8:35; compare with Mt 16.25; Lk 9.24). That the present pericope continues its criticism of Peter and his like can be detected in that the verb ‘deny (ἀπαρνησάσθω),’ used here in Mk 8:34, occurs later three more times in Mark, all being in reference to Peter’s denial of Jesus (14:30, 31, 72).


Further indications that Peter is being judged here in the light of ‘the gospel,’ which is none other the gospel preached by Paul (see ‘my gospel’ in Rom 2:16; 16:15; 1 Tim 2:8 and ‘our gospel’ in 2 Cor 4:3; 1 Thess 1:5; 2 Thess 2:14) are the following:


An interesting passage is Phil 3:18-20: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…”


Further resource

Sharyn Dowd, Reading Mark, Smith & Helwys Publishers, Macon GA, 2000.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.187-90.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; p.72.

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