LEARNING FAITH LESSONS
As Mark chapter 8 opens up, Jesus is still in the area of the Decapolis, primarily gentile territory. And the first 13 verses are setting the stage to see what the disciples learned from these things, or what they didnt learn. If it was all head knowledge and they never were able to apply it to their life, or there was the application of these things to their life. And that truly is the key anytime we study Gods Word or read Gods Word - APPLICATION!
1. Now this is interesting to me. They actually traveled with Jesus for 3 days and forgot to take enough food with them so they could eat. And as we are going to see, there are some 4,000 men plus women and children that are here. So the crowds could have been over 10,000 people who were very hungry and had nothing to eat. Why did they do this? Because they were hungering after Jesus, maybe hearing what Jesus did for the demon-possessed boy, how He set him free. Or how the deaf and dumb man was healed. Whatever the reason, they wanted to get to Jesus and they have spent 3 days hearing the words of Jesus. If you hunger after the Lord, He will feed you. If you make Him the priority in your life, He will satisfy you. And yes, what seems foolish to the world, like going to Bible study, is where we are feed the bread of life to keep us spiritually healthy and strong. And notice that Jesus was not angry that they brought no food when they came to Him, He had compassion on them and He will feed them.
2. Now Jesus gives these men this problem of not being able to feed all these people, and they are very hungry and weakened because they havent eaten in 3 days. Jesus was testing His disciples, seeing if they could put in practice the things that they learned. Several months earlier Jesus fed the 5,000 men, some 10 to 20 thousand people in all, with just 5 small barely wafers and two small pickled fish, and they had 12 small baskets of leftovers after the people ate until they were filled. And the lessons they should have taken with them is that if you look to Jesus, He can make the impossible, possible! That Jesus doesnt need much, if you give Him what you have, He can do a lot with just a little. Did they learn these lessons? We shall see in a minute.
3. One more point before we move on. The feeding of the 5,000 was to the Jews, but here Jesus is ministering to the gentiles. Why? Because Jesus not only came to the Jews, but to all men to set them free from this bondage of sin that man is born into. That is why Jesus said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." What a comfort to this large crowd of gentiles that gathered to learn more about Jesus.
1. Now we have to give them some credit here. Last time they wanted to send the crowd home, this time they didnt make that suggestion. So at least they learned that lesson. They also realized they in no way could accomplish this task, which is good, but they stopped there. They didnt ask Jesus or look to Him to provide. It was more of them throwing up their hands realizing with man this is impossible. That was important to realize but they never came to the solution, Jesus Christ!
1. In Matthew 15:38, we are told that the 4,000 only spoke of the men, there were also women and children there, so this crowd could have been over 10,000 people! And with 7 loaves of bread and just a few fish, Jesus was able to feed them. They too were filled, but not stuffed, just satisfied! Understand this, Jesus always satisfies those who come to Him. The demands we have will never outweigh the supply Jesus has for us. In fact, when they were done they had 7 large baskets filled with leftovers. And these baskets were like hampers, big enough for a man to fit in. It was a similar basket that Paul was placed in to escape from those Jews who wanted him dead for speaking of Jesus in Acts chapter 9. Now the baskets of 12 leftovers in Mark 6 were small hand baskets.
2. Now what did the disciples have to do before they could feed the people? They had to go to Jesus and receive the food from Him and then they could give it to the people. What must we do before we go and feed people the Word of God? Go to Jesus and we must receive Gods Word in our life before we can give it to others.
3. Did these disciples learn these lessons? Two tremendous miracles of feeding people, did they get it? What did they learn? Let me ask it another way before we move on. What have you learned over the past several months about the Lord that has changed the way you look at things? What riches have you received from His Word and applied to your life to help you to grow? If you dont learn the lessons, you will go through them again. We are going to see how these disciples responded to the truth of God in their life in a moment.
1. Jesus once again crosses over the lake to the area of Dalmanutha or Magdala as Matthew 15:39 tells us. This area was located by Tiberias on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Now keep in mind this is the area that Jesus had His run in with the Pharisees and the Scribes over ceremonial cleansing, and Jesus put them to silence. They didnt have a answer for what He was saying because He was right and they knew it. You see, it was not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man that does! And now we are going to see this religious group waiting for Jesus, to try and get Him this time!
1. Do you see how they were just waiting for Jesus to come back. And as soon as they see Him, they attack Him. Not physically, but with words. They wanted to dispute who He said He was. They wanted to test Him, not to prove He was the Messiah, but to disprove! In Matthew 16:1 we are told that not only did the Pharisees come out, but also the Sadducees. And understand this, these two Jewish religious groups hated each other and yet they came together because they hated Jesus more!
2. The Pharisees were into legalism, more interested in tradition, a works centered religion, looking down upon others who had not attained a righteousness like they have, a self-righteous attitude that Jesus blasts in Matthew chapter 23. The Sadducees were the liberals of the day. They didnt believe in the resurrection, the after-life, and thus, they were SAD-U-CEE! All they were interested in was the here and now, power and wealth. So you can see why they didnt get along, two opposing views of life. And these two groups, these two influential sects, were the ones the Jews went to for direction in life, and they couldnt even agree with each other except on this issue of destroying Jesus.
3. They wanted a sign from Jesus and Jesus just sighed! Why? Because His whole life was a sign to them, from His birth to the many miracles He had done. He was the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets said of the Messiah. There were many infallible proofs, they just choose not to look and see. And Jesus was just sighing over their hard hearts. In John 12:10-11, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, listen to the response of these religious leaders. We read, "But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus." Why did they want to kill Lazarus? Because he authenticated Jesus ministry and many believed when they saw Lazarus. So to get rid of that problem, they needed to kill Lazarus. You see, they were not interested in a sign, only to discredit and disprove the claims of Jesus.
4. So Jesus tells them they are not getting anymore signs, there have been plenty that they have freely chosen to reject and deny. Now Matthew gives us a little more information on this, when Jesus says in Matthew 16:2-4, "...When it is evening you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening. Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. And He left them and departed." He is saying that they can tell the weather by looking at the sky, but they cant even see the Messiah by the miracles that accompany His ministry! And so for them the only sign will be His resurrection on the third day. Now why does Mark leave that out? Because Mark is writing to the Romans who were not familiar with the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, while Matthew, writing to the Jews, understood those things.
1. Now they are leaving again, heading back over to the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee.
1. It seems that they departed so quickly that the disciples forgot to pack food for their journey. Jesus was teaching them spiritual things, they were always thinking on the physical plain, missing the point.
2. Now leaven is yeast and yeast is put into dough to make it rise. This occurs as the yeast rots and gases are produced, spreading throughout the whole dough. It only takes a little yeast to affect a lot of dough. And this is done silently, and invisibly, and yet the results are amazing. In the Scriptures yeast is used as a type of sin. And the point is just a little sin can permeate your life very silently and invisibly until it overtakes you. And the point that Jesus is making is that the doctrines, the teachings, the sin of these religious people will affect you if you come in contact with them. Be careful is the warning!
1. Now the disciples are arguing with each other. "I told you Peter to get the bread!" "You didnt tell me, you told John. He forgot it!" "Look, now Jesus is mad at us again because of you!" Let me ask you this, besides Jesus, what else was on board with them? One loaf of bread. How many people were on the boat? 13! Do you think Jesus could have fed 13 people with one loaf of bread? Of course He could, that wasnt the issue! Then what is the issue? They werent applying in this present situation the things they learned in the past. As a nurse, when a patient has a cardio-respiratory arrest, I know what to do because I have learned in the past the things to do. Now all I have to do is apply those things to the present situation. And that is what the Lord wanted them to do, and they didnt, they didnt learn those lessons of faith.
1. Jesus is telling them "Dont you get it?" Then He begins to take an inventory of His men. Lets see, each one has a heart, check. They each have two eyes, check. They each have two ears, check. And yet they still dont understand. They had all the equipment to understand, they had the information to understand, they just did not apply it to their lives.
1. Is it possible to become so familiar with Jesus that they didnt learn from Him anymore? I think so. We should always approach Gods Word with the anticipation of the Holy Spirit showing us, helping us to remember the things we need to know. And if you take anything at all away from this study, take this. PUT INTO PRACTICE WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED!
2. Now they finally did get it, the light did go on. In Matthew 16:12 we are told, "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees." You dont go through anything in life for nothing, God is trying to show you something, teach you something. Be open to Him and learn those faith lessons!