Mark 8 today, a powerful chapter In God’s Word filled with challenging, humbling and at times uncomfortable teachings from Jesus. I gladly share with you some of what the Lord showed me this morning in my own quiet time in this provocative chapter. -Vss 1-10 Jesus feeds four thousand, most certainly some time after the feeding of the 5,000, this time with 7 baskets of leftovers occurring! Before multiplying the few loaves and fish he had, Jesus blessed the food and thanked God for what they had (this is from where our “blessing” before the meal comes). The miracle shows God does care for our physical needs and promises to meet them (“Give us this day our daily bread”). It also shows Jesus is quite capable to provide beyond our satisfaction. I believe Jesus wants us all to avoid at all costs a scarcity mentality and live expecting abundance. God is able!
-vs 13 the Pharisees want a sign (again...and again!). Jesus “sighs”. Our Savior does have emotions. He sighs, I think, in exasperation, for when people want signs and then get one, within a short period of time they want another one in order to believe. True faith believes even if one cannot see. In Matthew 12, describing a similar narrative, Jesus says the sign this generation will receive is the sign of Jonah, the Cross and the Resurrection. The miracle of the Resurrection especially should be the only sign anyone should ever need. Please do the research about the FACTS of the Resurrection of Jesus. You’ll leave compelled with wonder at God’s miracle-working power!
-vss 14-21 Jesus warns his followers to be aware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. What is this “leaven”? It’s salvation by works. It’s living life in my own strength for my own glory. It’s selfish ambition. It easily creeps into our lives and spreads. Ultimately it consumes us. It’s pride of the worst order. That’s why Jesus takes them back to the feedings of the 5,000 and 4,000 and the leftovers. His question to them (and us): What did you do to earn the leftovers? It was all his grace, mercy and kindness that gave them this abundance, receive SOLELY by grace through faith. Your religion is either driven by grace or works. Works is leaven and dangerous. It leads to self-sufficiency and pride. Grace leads to humility and worship of God. Beware, all!!
-vss 22-26 the healing of of the blind man at Bethsaida. What is most striking to me here is Jesus first removes him from the village (and all unbelief? I think so!). Then it takes him a couple of times to heal his eyes. Perhaps this shows our need to persist in prayer for others’ needs. Moreso, I think there’s a spiritual lesson here. Jesus wants to change our hearts. It often takes time, people being knocked around a couple of times to see Jesus clearly. We are so hard-headed....and hard-hearted!
-vss 27,28 some of the most poignant teachings in the Bible. Jesus asks his disciples (and us) who they think he really is. They go from John the Baptist or Elijah reincarnated or one of the other prophets. Peter finally gets it: He is THE Christ, the long-awaited Messiah. This is the most important question of the ages. Who is Jesus? He’s not just another good man, moral teacher, gifted rabbi. He claims to be THE Messiah, the Son of the living God.
-vss 31-38 if indeed Jesus is God in human flesh, THE Messiah of the world, he then teaches his disciples then and now that he must suffer, die for the atonement of our sins. This MUST happen for our sins to be forgiven. Otherwise, we can have no relationship with God. The Father knew that our sins must first be forgiven before He comes to judge the world. If not, then all die in their sins and are condemned to hell. But the Son of Man (a term from Daniel 8 to describe the Messiah, Jesus carefully chose it to describe himself) must die and then be raised from the dead to prove our sins have been forgiven. Peter rebukes him for saying he must die. That didn’t align with his and the other disciples’ expectation that Messiah would come to eradicate the tyranny of Roman rule. Jesus rebukes Peter, while looking at the other disciples too (he knew what they were thinking) and tells Satan to get behind him, the evil one, using them to think about this earth and not the things of God. Finally, Jesus launches into some of his most powerful, challenging teachings: if you want to follow him, it’s a call to lose your life for the sake of the Gospel. It’s not a call to a martyr complex. Rather it’s a call to self-denial which lets go of self-determination to be obedient and dependent on the Messiah, Jesus. The one who gives up his life truly finds it. The one who clings to this life loses it. What good does it do to gain the entire world but lose your eternal soul? Isn’t your soul more valuable than anything else in life? How we live now has eternal implications. For in that day when Jesus does return with his holy angels, will he be ashamed of us and how we’ve lived amidst this evil and adulterous generation? Have we wholeheartedly stood for him?
Here are a couple of statements I leave with you today:
-If you have nothing to die for, you have nothing to live for. -”When Jesus bids a man (or woman) to come and follow him, he bids him to come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and martyr for Jesus. -At the end of your time on earth, will Jesus be ashamed of you and your stands? -How valuable is your eternal soul? To where is yours going?
God bless you all. -