[Mark 8] Believing Jesus for Everyday Needs: In chapter 8 of Mark Jesus again multiplies loaves and fishes, feeding 4000 in all. The disciples however have not learned the lesson of God’s provisioning as they become concerned shortly thereafter because of a food shortage. Have you been slow to learn the lessons of the faithfulness of God? This chapter is a repeated reminder that no matter what we are short of in life, God has demonstrated in Christ His willingness and ability to meet our every need.
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[Mar 8:1-38 KJV] 1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples [unto him], and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these [men] with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before [them]; and they did set [them] before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before [them]. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken [meat] that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away. 10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now [the disciples] had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and [of] the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, [It is] because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew [it], he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
After healing the deaf man by putting spittle on his tongue, the crowd becomes very large around Jesus over the course of three days. He has compassion on them because they have had nothing to eat. He tells His disciples that it isn’t practical to send them away to their homes and the disciples are incredulous about finding enough bread to feed the crowd. Notice that at this time they are not concerned about whether they could buy enough bread but whether they could find enough bread to buy. What does this imply? Jesus’ ministry was not without its means. There is indication that not only was Jesus able to provide from Himself and twelve men and their families but also for the poor and also apparently to feed the large crowds that followed Him, except in this case, being in a remote area, there was nowhere to find a vendor who would have enough bread on hand to feed this many people.
While they cannot requisition bread from a local provider, Jesus does ask what is available in the crowd. There are seven loaves and a few fishes. The people are commanded to sit down in the ground and Jesus takes the loaves and fish to bless them, and when distributed to the crowd there are seven baskets of fragments left over after feeding about 4000 people. Now that they are properly nourished, Jesus blesses them and sends them away. Think about this miracle. If God in Christ will take such a small amount of resources and multiply it to meet the needs of many in such a miraculous way, certainly it is not a stretch of our faith to see God working in the course of our everyday lives to bless us in our going out and come in day by day. There are many miracles that happen all around us at times that we don’t even notice God’s hand at work. God so loved that He gave. God’s most basic nature is that of a giving God who loves and provides for us in great ways and small as we trust Him as this crowd trusted, sitting down with empty stomach in a remote area, just believing that what Jesus was about to do next would make all the difference.
Jesus departs by ship to Dalmanutha and the Pharisees come asking a sign from heaven, some proof of the authority by which He taught and by which He claimed to do miracles in God’s name. Jesus’ frustration was evident as He sighs within Himself and declares that there shall no sign be given to them. We see this sign seeking mentality among us today. Non-believers challenge us with questions that begin with “if you call yourself a Christian you will do thus and so ….” Believers challenge their leaders, saying if you are of God, you will tell me something about myself that no one else could possibly know. This is nothing more than asking a prophetic minister to act like a psychic or give a palm reading. It doesn’t take any faith to believe in a word given that tells you what your SSN number is, or what the name of your second cousin twice removed is. Whatsoever is not of faith will not please God but attitudes toward such proofs require no faith at all and need to be set aside by mature believers.
Jesus leaves by ship again, it seems every time the Pharisees show up, Jesus is calling the travel agent. Is that your response, or do you continue in relationship with religious skeptics, as though you are actually going to change their mind. Jesus was always moving away from unbelief, without any apparent compunction to answer their criticisms or their lack of spiritual understanding. On the ship, the disciples become concerned that they neglected to bring any bread for their journey, except for one loaf which wouldn’t not be enough for all 13 men. Jesus makes note of their consternation and tells them to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. What does leaven do? It causes dough to rise. It in effect, increases bread, without increasing its actual substance. Jesus on the other hand, also increases bread, but when He does so there is substance and life in that which He enlarges. The disciples really aren’t paying attention because they are hungry. Jesus rebukes them for being so distracted by their need for food and the lack of it in the ship, reminding them of the feeding of the 5000 when 12 baskets were left over, and the 4000 when the 7 baskets were left over. He marvels that after seeing such miracles that they do not understand. Understand what? That God will meet their needs no matter what the natural situation or lack of resources happens to be. It was a point of frustration for Jesus that His followers could not think or trust God beyond an empty stomach. Have you every frustrated the grace of God in this way? I remember after years of faithful provision that God took me through a list of miracle after miracle where He moved in our life in dramatic ways, and then remarked to me “in light of such blessings, how come I have to spend 30 minutes getting past your unbelief, every time I want to have a conversation?” Let us lose, my brethren the habit of unbelief.
22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put [his] hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell [it] to any in the town. 27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some [say], Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 34 And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 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. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 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.
After arriving in Bethsaida a blind man asks to touch Jesus. The man apparently believes that if he touches Jesus, he will be whole, and his blind eyes opened but that is not what happens. Jesus takes the man by the hand and the man is not healed. The man no doubt thought when Jesus takes his hand that his eyes would be opened but instead he finds Jesus leading him away to a remote place beyond the city. Have you ever thought you knew how God was going to do something for you and then it didn’t happen. What did you do next? Give up? We need to listen to God very closely when it seems that our answers are not forthcoming. Religion today just shrugs its shoulders and presumes healing is not for them. This man on the other hand, to his credit, allows himself to be led to a place where after some process, he is completely healed. Be willing to be led, even when it seems your prayers are not being answered. After the man is healed, he is warned not to go back into the city either. Can you imagine? This is the man’s home town. In other places in the gospels where this is mentioned, Jesus makes it clear He expects the man to relocate without so much as saying goodbye to his friends. Can you imagine being told this by someone who just prayed for your healing? Would you be capable of that level of obedience, or would common sense take over and what would have happened if this man smiled politely, thanking Jesus for the suggestion and went back to town? Learn to obey God and be led by God even when it isn’t convenient and even when prayers seemingly go unanswered. That is the key to your miracle.
In verses 27-29, Jesus asks the disciples who they thought He was. How they answered suggests that they believed in reincarnation as Herod and others did, who thought He was Elijah come to life or perhaps the recently deceased John the Baptist resurrected. Peter as we know, declares him to be the very Christ, the son of the living God. We know from other accounts that Jesus then gives Peter the keys to the kingdom which Peter apparently left out of Mark’s gospel, which we remember constitutes Peter’s Jesus stories as Mark was the traveling companion of Peter who wrote these things in Rome after Peter’s execution at the hands of the Romans. Peter left out the part of Jesus giving him the keys of the kingdom out of humility, but he does recount the rebuke he received for savoring the things of men and not of God and being called Satan by Jesus Himself. Thus we see the maturity of Peter gained over the years of his apostleship.
Jesus then calls the people together to teach them, and declares that whoever will follow Him must deny Himself and take up his cross. Notice that it does suggest that Jesus was saying “you must take up ‘my’ cross…” No, you must take up YOUR cross. We err as followers of Jesus when we try to take up JESUS’ cross. No, there is only one Jesus. You can’t carry anyone’s sin but your own. You can’t by the efficaciousness of God carry sickness or disease for anyone other than yourself. Yet how many times do we make such assumptions, or in religious mentality say “God put that on me …” that is a deeply arrogant statement that ignores the sin condition all the while making a show of high minded false purity. The cross that Jesus carried was one thing, carrying our cross, accepting the demands of Christ upon our personal lives is another.
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