Miracles and Misunderstandings

The Gospel of Mark – Part 27

Miracles and Misunderstandings – Mark 8:1-21

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Feb. 23rd, 2020


  • We enter chapter 8 on the heels of an account where Jesus ministers to a deaf and mute man.  Jesus adapts His ministry method extending mercy to this man.  By doing so, He fulfills Isaiah 35, giving further evidence of His identity. The people of that region were “astonished beyond measure” as the news of this miracle spread far and wide.  
  • People had gathered again in great numbers to hear Jesus, and He continues to minister to them. Though His compassion and power, He meets the needs of the people who have come to Him.  In contrast, the religious leaders, out of their self-righteous pride, come to Jesus to argue and test Him, demanding that He perform “a sign from Heaven” while His disciples do not yet fully understand all that Jesus is teaching and showing them. 
  • From our passage for today, I want you to know that Jesus is both compassionate and powerful so that you will not harden your heart toward Him and understand who He really is. 

The compassion of Jesus 

Mark 8:1-3 ESV
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 

  • When people gather crowds, they usually do so to get from them . . . when Jesus gathers a crowd, He does so to give to them. He does not love them because of what they do for Him, He loves them because He is Love and has compassion for them. 
  • This is good news for all of us. The character of the King is compassionate and consistent to all those who come to Him in their need. Jesus is the embodiment of the heart of God who proclaimed His name to Moses:  

Ex 34:5-7 ESV
The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin . . . 

  • This is the one who created you, this is the one who calls to you, this is the one who Has given Himself to you and for you. This is the God of great compassion and this is the God of great power. 

The power of Jesus 

Mark 8:4-10 ESV
And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. 

  • It is one thing to have compassion and no power. It is another thing to have power and no compassion, but Jesus has both of these, and because He has both compassion and power, the needs of the people were met in the place where only the compassion and power of God would cause such a thing to happen. And there are times in which the compassion and power of God combine to meet our needs in a way that we will know that only God could do. His glory is best seen in our joy. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (John Piper).  Continuing to trust in His goodness gives us strength to continue to our final reward. We all have a choice as to how we come to Him, and if we come to Him in humility and honesty, He will meet with us. Give to Him what you have, and He will make it so much more. 
  • Now others come to Him not with humility and truth, but in their pride and self-righteousness to argue and test the one who is called “the Son of God.” 

The hardness of the Pharisees 

Mark 8:11-13 ESV
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

  • These guys came to Jesus to argue with Him. There are people today who in their pride think that they can argue with Him and they demand that He does something for them to prove that He is God. Apparently, all that they saw Him do, and all that they heard Him teach was not enough for them, they still wanted a “sign from heaven” – a thing they thought He should do for them if He was really God – to prove who He was. 
  • This type of approach, the one who comes to God to argue and demand from Him is not met with the compassion of God, but with a deep sigh which conveys deep sadness mixed with exasperation and a question of their motivation, “Why does this generation seek a sign?”  Instead of a “sign,” they are given a “sigh” and will not be given what is demanded from God. This is the response to those who have been hardened by pride. Pray that God would soften your heart and pray that the hearts of people will be broken of their pride. The heart of pride must be broken open for the truth of God to take root.  

The dullness of the Disciples

Mark 8:12-16 ESV
Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 

  • Jesus was explaining the spiritual principles and the disciples were thinking about groceries.  When Jesus told them to, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod,” they thought that they should not use ingredients offered by these people.  The “leaven” that Jesus was talking about was the self-righteous pride and the self-centered pride of both the pharisees and king Herod. If they allow this pride to pierce their hearts, it will grow and spread into their whole being and change them and harden them with this evil from within.  
  • Jesus at this point pelted them with a series of questions . . . 

Mark 8:17-21 ESV
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

  • Jesus “woke them up” by asking them a series of questions that made them remember and made them focus on what He had taught them and what He had shown them so that they could understand who He was. 
  • In the feeding of the 5,ooo (Mark 6), it was done in a predominately Jewish area with His followers who had become weary because of ministry.  Because of the compassion and power of God, Jesus met both the spiritual and physical needs of these people as He fulfilled Psalm 23 as the good shepherd. The 12 baskets full of broken pieces that were left over were collected in small personalized baskets the Jews carried for their “kosher” food.  Jesus Himself was the “mana” from heaven. He was the “bread of heaven.” He was the “bread of life” (see John 6) that was broken for them personally and was given to the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • The feeding of the 4,000 was done in a predominately Gentile (non-Jewish) area, and the people had to wait longer for the miracle (three days). Because of the compassion and power of God, the spiritual and physical needs of the people were met. They collected seven large baskets of broken pieces that were left over. He was the “bread of heaven,” He was the bread of life” that was broken and given to the rest of the Gentile world as well (the large seven baskets for seven days of creation). Jesus is the living mana from heaven because the compassion and power of God was broken and given to all who come to Him in humility and in their need, both to the Jew and also to the Gentiles.  

Conclusion and Communion 

  • Know deep in your hearts that Jesus is compassionate and has the power to meet your deepest and earnest needs. He will do so for all who seek Him in humility and truth. 
  • Know that Jesus is indeed the “Bread of Life” that was broken for you and those in the world, both Jew and Gentile.  The heart of God, in the perfection of God for the Glory of God.