Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I Don't Get It
Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 28-29, Mark 8
SCRIPTURE: Mark 8:14-21
Mark 8:1-21 NIV
1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance."
4 His disciples answered, "But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?"
5 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked.
"Seven," they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand men were present. And having sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
16 They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
"Twelve," they replied.
20 "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
They answered, "Seven."
21 He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"
Here’s a synopsis of this passage: The disciples had failed to bring enough bread for their voyage in the boat (v. 14). Then Jesus began to teach them to beware of the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Herod (v. 15). They thought Jesus mentioned yeast because of their lack of bread (v. 16). Then Jesus says, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?” (vv. 17-18). Then Jesus reminds them of how he multiplied the bread on two different occasions—the 5000 and the 4000 (vv. 19-20). Then He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (v. 21).
On reading this passage I was trying to figure out what the connection was between the yeast or sin of the Pharisees, and the fact that Jesus multiplied the bread to feed the multitudes. So, when Jesus asked, “Do you still not understand?” I had to admit, “No Lord, I still don’t get it.” I thought I must be worse than the disciples. Am I blind and deaf? Is my heart hardened in some way? What is the point I’m missing? Certainly Jesus could be pointing out that there is no need to worry about the supply of bread; he can provide whatever is needed. But what does that have to do with the sin of the Pharisees? And what particular sin of the Pharisees is He alluding to? Is He referring to their request for a “miraculous sign” (vv. 11-12)? Is the lesson about having faith—about believing without needing to “see” proof? Or maybe the point has nothing to do with the connection of the two, but is just to turn our focus away from our own self concerns and listen to what Jesus is saying now.
I am humbled to have to admit my lack of understanding at times. This passage certainly cries for more investigative study on my part later on. Maybe that’s the best application/lesson for me to take from this journal today.
Lord, I declare my trust and belief in You in all things. I don’t need to always have full understanding—my faith is not dependent on such. Yet, I do ask for Your continued enlightenment to my spirit and mind. Through Christ. Amen. -AP