-Jesus does yet another miracle of multiplication with a large crowd of 4,000. They had been with Him for three days in a desolate place, and the Christ had compassion on them since they had nothing left to eat and, for some of them, had a long journey back. The disciples were slow. They had not yet grasped the concept that the Lord could provide something out of nothing, or very little in this instance. Jesus took seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, gave thanks to the Father, and then had His disciples once again distribute the food until all ate and were satisfied. Once again there were left overs. This time seven large baskets were used to full capacity to gather the scraps. After this Jesus sent the crowd away and entered the boat with His disciples to come into the district of Dalmanutha, which is on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Here, the Pharisees came out to begin arguing with Him seeking a sign in order to test Him. This affected a deep sigh in the Spirit of the Messiah and a pertinent question, “Why does this generation seek for a sign?” Then He went on, “Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” He left them at that point, embarking to the other side of the sea (Mark 8:1-13). On this journey, the disciples had forgotten to bring along bread for sustenance. Only one loaf of bread was with them when Jesus commented, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” The disciples were slow to understand His point, and began to discuss the fact that they had not brought enough bread. The Lord rebuked them here for not understanding what He was trying to teach them and for hardening their heart. They had been short to remember that He was “Jehovah Jireh (God will provide)” and could easily feed them. He recounted His two great miracles of multiplication, and ended the lesson with a rhetorical question, “Do you not yet understand (Mark 8:14-21)?” One day they would get it, but it had not yet occurred to them, even though they had seen incredible things, that this Man was God in the flesh. He and the Father were One, and soon the Lord would probe them some more to draw their attention to this fact.
-A blind man was healed as they came to Bethsaida on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. On this occasion, He brought the man outside the village by the hand, spit on his eyes, and laid His Hands on him. The first sight this man saw was what appeared to him to be men as big as trees walking around. Jesus quickly laid His Hands on his eyes again to completely restore the blind man’s sight. He then sent him home telling him not to even enter the village (Mark 8:22-26). Again the Lord was trying not to gain a popular following preceding His crucifixion. This would have created a civil disturbance that was definitely not the Lord’s will. He came to bring peace, not war, with His first incarnation. The other interpretive issue here in this section deals with what the blind man saw when he was first regaining his eyesight. Did he have spiritual insight into another realm? Or, was he just foggy in his perception of his surroundings? This we may never know until we can ask in Heaven, but it is an intriguing part of the text.
-Jesus now went north probably along some of the feeder springs, creeks, and rivers that feed the Sea of Galilee up to the village of Caesarea Philippi. This was a very pagan area full of demonic sacrifice and polytheistic worship of the Hellenistic gods. Along the way, Jesus took the opportunity to question His disciples further in regards to who He was. His pointed question, “Who do people say that I am?” began the discussion in the text. They were giving the common answers such as: John the Baptist, Elijah, or maybe one of the other prophets of old. The Lord continued though, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, the budding leader of the group, spoke up, “You are the Christ (anointed Messiah).” Again Jesus warned them not to tell anyone what they were discovering about Him (Mark 8:27-30). This was an important event, the acknowledgement of the Divine. This was truly a marker in the development of the Lord’s disciples, but they would see more and learn more as the saga continued.
-God began to teach them at this point that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the establishment in Israel. He prophesied that He would be killed, and after three day He would rise again. This He was stating plaining as the gospel writer goes back and recalls. Because of this negative word, Peter pulls the Lord aside and tries to rebuke Him. Jesus’ response is classic as He turns and sees the disciples, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” At that point He gathers everyone who was following Him and said these powerful words, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:31-38).”
-*Application* Have we acknowledged the Christ for who He really is in our own hearts? This is truly the decisive question now, isn’t it? The Word says that we should sanctify (set Him apart as Divine) Him in our hearts, and be ready to defend our faith and hope with gentleness and reference (1 Peter 3:15). It is important to note that Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned those Words of God at a more mature point in his life. Like the disciples, we sometimes are slow to grasp these spiritual concepts and lessons that God is trying to teach us. Often we are hard hearted and need to be chiseled at to refine our thinking and spiritual response. Are we really ready to lose our lives today for His sake so that we can gain everything in eternity? True relationship with the King involves sacrifice and confidence before Him in a marred world. Faith is the key to these vital things and what it all boils down to. Is it easy to give it all away for life in Jesus? No, not at all. But, is it worth it in the end? Absolutely, no doubt about it. We who have believed in the Son of God and given up our lives for Him will ultimately find His favor forevermore.
Verses to Memorize: Mark 8:25, 33-36