Mark 8:1-26 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 8:1-26

  • Mark 8:1-10
  • In those days there was again a large crowd, and they had nothing to eat. He called the disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a long distance.” 4 His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread here in this desolate place to feed these people?” 5 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked them. “Seven,” they said. 6 He commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves, he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. So they served them to the crowd. 7 They also had a few small fish, and after he had blessed them, he said these were to be served as well. 8 They ate and were satisfied. Then they collected seven large baskets of leftover pieces. 9 About four thousand were there. He dismissed them. 10 And he immediately got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
    • There are two things closely intertwined in this incident
      • There is the compassion of Jesus
        • Over and over again we see Jesus moved with compassion
        • Jesus looked at the crowd; they had been with Him for three days; and He remembered they had a long walk home
          • He whose task it was to bring splendor and the majesty of the truth and love of God to men might have had a mind above thinking of what was going to happen on their walk home, but not Jesus
        • It is all too true that the first instinct of too many people is not to help
          • It is human to want to avoid the trouble of giving help; it is divine to be moved with such compassion and pity that we are compelled to help
      • There is the challenge of Jesus
        • When Jesus had pity on the crowd and wished to give them something to each, the disciples immediately pointed out the practical difficulty that they were in a desert place and that there was nowhere within miles where any food could be bought
          • What have you got with you that might help?
          • Don’t try to push the responsibility for helping onto someone else. Don’t say that you would help if you had only something to give. Don’t say that in these circumstances to help is impossible. Take what you have and give it and see what happens
    • There are two interesting things in the background of this story
      • This incident happened on the far side of the Sea of Galilee in the district called the Decapolis
        • Why did this large crowd of 4,000 men assemble
        • The healing of the deaf man from our previous lesson would help to bring interest and grow a crowd.
        • In Mark 5:1-20, we read the story of Legion, where Jesus healed the demon possessed man, the town ran Him off, but the healed man wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus told the man to stay and tell others what Jesus had done for him.
          • Is it possible that part of this great crowd was due to the missionary activity of the healed man? Have we got a glimpse here of what the witness of one man can do for Christ?
      • It is odd that the word for basket is different in this story than from the story of the 5,000 in Mark 6
        • Mark 6 the word used describes the basket in which Jews carried their food, a basket narrow at the top and wider at the foot, and rather like a water pot.
        • The word here describes a basket like a hamper. It was the type of basket that Paul was let down over the wall of Damascus
        • It is the type of basket which the Gentiles used
        • The Decapolis is an area that had a large gentile population
        • Is it possible that we are to see in the feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6 the coming of the bread of God to the Jews, and in this incident the coming of the bread of God to the Gentiles
        • This together could be the forecast and the symbol that Jesus came to satisfy the hunger of Jew and Gentile alike, that in Him, in truth, was the God who opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing
  • Mark 8:11-13
  • 11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, demanding of him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 Sighing deeply in his spirit, he said, “Why does this generation demand a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat, and went to the other side.
    • The whole tendency of the age in which Jesus lived was to look for God in the abnormal. It was believed that when the Messiah came the most startling things would happen
      • We may note that when false Messiahs arose, as they frequently did, they lured the people to follow them by promising astonishing signs
      • It was a sign like that that the Pharisees were demanding
        • They wished to see some shattering even blazing across the horizon, defying the laws of nature and astonishing everyone 
        • To Jesus, such a demand was not due to the desire to see the hand of God; it was due to the fact that they were blind to the hand of God.
        • The sign of a truly religious people is not that they come to church to find God but that they find God everywhere, not that they make a great deal of sacred places but that they sanctify common places
    • For anyone who has eyes to see and a heart to understand, the daily miracle of night and day and the daily splendor or all common things are sign enough from God
  • Mark 8:14-21
  • 14 The disciples had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then he gave them strict orders: “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 They were discussing among themselves that they did not have any bread. 17 Aware of this, he said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact you have no bread? Don’t you understand or comprehend? Do you have hardened hearts? 18 Do you have eyes and not see; do you have ears and not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of leftovers did you collect?” “Twelve,” they told him. 20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you collect?” “Seven,” they said. 21 And he said to them, “Don’t you understand yet?”
    • This passage sheds a very vivid light on the minds of the disciples
      • Jesus was thinking f the demand of the Pharisees for a sign and also thinking of Herod’ terrified reaction to himself
      • To a Jew, leaven was the symbol of evil. Leaven was a piece of dough kept over from a previous baking and fermented. To a Jew, fermentation was identified with putrefaction, and therefore leaven stood for evil
      • It was the taint of human nature, original sin, the corrupting leaven which kept human beings from doing the will of God
      • He was saying, “Be on your guard against the evil influence of the Pharisees and of Herod. Don’t you go the same way that the Pharisees and Herod have already gone.”
    • What was the point? What possible connection is there between the Pharisees and Herod?
      • The Pharisees had just asked for a sign. For a Jew, nothing was easier than to thing of the Messiah I terms of wonders and conquests and miraculous happenings and nationalistic triumphs and political supremacy
      • Herod had tried to build up happiness through the gaining of power and wealth and influence and prestige
      • In one sense, for both the Pharisees and Herod the kingdom of God was an earthly kingdom; it was based on earthly power and greatness, and on the victories that force could win. It was as if Jesus by this detached hint was already preparing the disciples for something very soon to come.
        • “Maybe soon it will dawn on you that I am the Messiah. When that thought comes, don’t think in terms of earthly power and glory as the Pharisees and Herod do.”
        • Of the true meaning, at the moment He said nothing. That grim revelation was still to come
      • The disciples could think of nothing but the fact that they had forgotten to bring bread, and that they would go hungry
        • Jesus responds not with anger, but maybe with a smile, like one who tries to lead someone not getting it to see a self-evident truth.
        • It’s almost as if He said, “Why all the worry? Don’t you remember what happened before? Hasn’t experience tough you that you don’ need to worry about things like that if you’re with Me?”
        • Too often experience fills us with pessimism, teaches us what we cannot do, teaches us to view life with a kind of resigned hopelessness
        • We are blind; if we would only read the lessons of experience correctly, it would teach us not the pessimist of the things that cannot be, but the hope which stands amazed that God has brought us thus far in safety and in certainty, and the confidence that God can bring us through anything that may happen
  • Mark 8:22-26
  • 22 They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people—they look like trees walking.” 25 Again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”
    • Only Mark tells us this story, and yet there are certain extremely interesting things in it
      • Again we see the unique considerateness of Jesus
        • He took the blind man out of the crowd and out of the village that He might be alone with him. Why?
          • This man had been born blind
          • If he had suddenly been given his sight in the middle of a crowd, there would have flashed upon him hundreds of people and things, and bright colors. He would have been completely bewildered
        • Great teachers enter into the very minds of their students
        • He had the gift of considerateness, because He could think with their thoughts and feel with their feelings.
      • Jesus used methods that the man could understand
        • The ancient world believed in the healing power of spit
        • Jesus used a method of curing him which he could understand
        • He did not begin with words and methods which were far above the heads of ordinary people. He spoke to them and acted on them in a way that their minds could grasp and understand
      • This miracle is unique in one way
        • It is the only miracle that happened gradually
        • Usually Jesus’ miracles happened suddenly and completely. The blind man’s sight came back in stages
          • There is symbolic truth here. No one ever sees all God’s truth all at once
          • One of the dangers of a certain type of evangelism is that it encourages the idea that making a personal decision for Christ makes someone full grown Christian
          • One of the dangers of church membership is that it can be presented in such a way as to imply that when a person becomes a member of the church they have come to the end of the road
          • Baptism is the beginning not the end
            • They are the discovery of the riches of Christ which are inexhaustible, and if any of us lived 100, 1,000, or 1,000,000 years, we would still have to go on growing in grace and learning more and more about the infinite wonder and beauty of Christ
            • It is gloriously true that sudden conversation is a gracious possibility, but it is equally true that every day we should be reconverted. With all God’s grace and glory before us, we can go on learning for a lifetime and still need eternity to know as we are known

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