Mark 8:1-26

4000 Naturally Hungry & Miraculously Fed, 1-10

How did the logistics of this miracle benefit the hungry? Look closely at verse 6. The disciples of Jesus were to distribute the food. This is a creative miracle, not a healing one, it was issued by Jesus, but demonstrated by the disciples and felt by the hungry people that ate. What role do you play in the distribution of God’s word, which is sometimes described as food, milk or meat? (1st Cor. 3:2 & Heb. 5:12) The word of God is nourishing and full of life-giving wisdom for salvation. Not only is it nourishing, but it’s also appetizing, or appealing. The New Testament has an allurement in it’s message of purity, love and power. The holiness of God is beautiful. 1st Chron. 16:29, 2nd Chron. 20:21, Psa. 29:2 & 96:9

The Demand for a Sign. v11-13

The obvious miracles already publicly performed by Jesus did not suffice as evidence for the Pharisees. To them, Jesus wasn’t proven to be the Christ, or that he was even truly from God as a prophet. The Pharisees had an attitude that demanded more signs specifically to meet their personal criteria that would prove to them that Jesus was from God. This can only be understood as arrogance and is written by Mark, that sounds almost like an insult to the Pharisees. Which isn’t surprising, since many people already knew they were conspiring with their enemies the Herodians to try and test, try and tempt Jesus into making a mistake.

Warnings Against “Leaven” of Pharisees & Herodians, 14-21

Leaven isn’t always a bad thing, but in this context it is spreading sin and not complementing righteousness (Mt. 13:33). The disciples didn’t really understand what Jesus was talking about until Matthew 16:11-12, Mark doesn’t mention their enlightenment. What exactly was the leaven of the Pharisees? See Luke 12:1. What exactly is the leaven of the Herodians? It could be a type of hypocrisy that puts up a front of wisdom and power, when really they are foolishly flaunting sin and trying to make it look good, smart and productive. Doesn’t that sound personally familiar?

Two Stages of Healing, v22-26Here is yet another unique passage no other gospel shares. In chapter 8, We don’t have anyone who begins to understand who Jesus is. Not even the twelve disciples. They can’t imagine where they’ll get enough bread to feed these people, v4. They completely misinterpret Jesus’ bread metaphor, v6. And Mark makes explicit the fact that they can neither see nor hear, v18. In other words, they do not yet understand who he is, v21. But Jesus can heal the deaf, 7:31-37. And he can heal the blind, 8:22-26. Perhaps his two attemptsto train the disciples will pay off and enable them to see clearly! What about you and me? Doesn’t it take quite a few times of God trying to say, teach or bless us, before we get it!?!?!

Mark 7:24-37

v24-30, The Power of Humility!

The prophet Isaiah promised the Messiah/Christ would not be pulling Public Relation stunts to get attention, in fact he deliberately tried to do some work quietly, but his powerful love was so strong in every community, he couldn’t keep his work private even when he wanted to, see Isaiah 42:2. If we want to follow Jesus, we will make the same effort, no matter how vain, remember what Paul told Timothy about his good works, 1st Tim. 5:25. On the subject of the daughter’s mother, there is no arrogance, rightful pride, or over-zealous insistence that Jesus should help her. She knows her true position before God, and replies in humility. Her begging on behalf of her daughter is not a demand, it is a humble request. This truly is the way we should pray, according to God’s will, for this is the will of God, stay humble! Even the apostle Paul called himself the least of all the saints, Eph. 3:8, and he helped many many people who were victims and so can we!

v31-37, The Power of Intercession!

Again, Jesus tries to work privately, but to no avail. His powerful mercy amazes everyone, he can’t even get people to stay calm and quiet about the miraculous mercy he shares. Christ’s one word, (EPHPHATHA) with one touch, the one drop of saliva! Healed instantly! We today physically have no way of him so intimately touching anyone, but we do have all of his words we could ever desire. The real question is: Do we desire his power to live righteous lives, regardless of our physical plight? Every physical healing Jesus performed intimately while he was physically present, is a demonstration of the Father’s living will to instantly give spiritual healing while he is spiritually present! Do you believe in this powerful truth? Never forget this and take great faith in the facts explained in John 9:1-5. 

Very often in the scriptures, not always, but here, we see faith in the real source of real power being demonstrated by people other than the victim. Christians should express faith in God’s love for victims who are helpless, like the little daughter and the deaf/mute man. Do you have any victims in your family?… in your circle of friends or in this congregation? How do we express our faith in the real Healer, the great physician, Jesus.

The friends of the deaf/mute man were “beseeching” or begging Jesus. Many times in the New Testament we are reminded of how Christians are to pray for the salvation of lost souls, look closely at 1st TIm. 2:4, Romans 10:1 & Php. 1:9-11 and there are a few other examples.  There is no greater or more pressing need for people than to be saved, forgiven and growing in the grace & knowledge of Christ. Christians are often the only “letter” (2 Cor. 3:3-6) unbelievers will read, in order to meet the great Physician, Christ. He is the only Mediator, 1st Tim. 2:5. And yet, we are interceding.  Why? Because, ““The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2nd Cor. 4:4).

Mark 7:1-23

This passage is unique, in that it’s the only record in the New Testament, explaining why Jews do what they do in their oral traditions from the law of Moses. It is one of the reasons most Christians believe the gospel of Mark was written to a non-Jewish audience, maybe even Rome itself.  “Unclean hands” are not dirty hands, they are hands which have not gone through “ritual washing”. Here are passages instructing hand washing for Priests (Ex. 30:19, 21, 40:31) For anyone with bodily fluids issued (Lev. 15:11), for anyone touching corpses (Dt. 21:6). None of these verses reference meal preparation! They weren’t interested in hygiene, it was about making your hands spiritually clean to receive God’s blessings or to do God’s work. The same thought is connected with lifting “holy” hands in prayer, 1st Tim. 2:8, yet there was no washing for Peter and Christians, because our whole life is made acceptable, that is holy by the blood of Christ. But if we don’t live a life worthy (sin) of this good news of holiness by His blood, then we make ourselves unacceptable by our sinfulness, not by the fact that we do not wash our hands. What do Christian wash to become acceptable to God? See 1st Peter 3:20-21.

In the eyes of the Pharisees, “The tradition of the elders” was sort of a test case for whether or not Jesus and his disciples respected the Law of Moses. The Pharisees assumed that the best way to obey the Law of Moses and respect God was to “hold fast to many traditions”. But Jesus wanted to show them that to obey the Law should be about doing what it says, regardless of the fathers’ traditions. Even in the most simple commandment of honoring your parents, Ex. 20:12 & Dt. 5:16, a child could exempt themselves by gifting money to God in the Temple, and that money would replace their obligation to help (honor) their parents. In God’s eyes, Jesus saw this as having “no regard for the command of God”, v8. But Jews regarded Jesus and his disciples as “defiled” because what they ate was eaten with hands not washed.  When Jesus stated that “what comes out of a person is what defiles him” v15, what was he talking about?

Do we as the church have any traditions which would excuse us from doing what Christ actually says we should do? Think about it, pray about it, and watch out for any traditions/practices that we may be doing that would actually be replacing what Christ tells us to do.

This list of sins in Mark 7:21-22 provides nothing unexpected (we see similar lists in Romans 1:29-31; Galatians 5:19-21, and 2 Timothy 3:2-5), it adds another layer of meaning to Jesus’ message. Each of these particular vices is, in some way, a sin of consumption. Adultery, theft, avarice, envy, pride — each of these springs from a desire to take, to grasp, to own, to devour. The corruption of the human heart is rooted in our desire to bare our fangs into other things, other than the enemy! This is why Jesus does not reject purity laws here. It turns out that our consumption (or lack thereof) does affect our hearts. If our desire for self-satisfaction is allowed to run rampant, we become insatiable consumers: of things, of course, but also of pleasure, of people, even of our own energy. (How good do you actually feel after spending a day binge-watching something on Netflix?) Bare your fangs into what is wrong (the enemies), and kill it! If you’ve got the desire to attack anything, attack sin. “All these evils come from within and defile a person”, v23

Mark 6:30-56

Feeding 5000+

The only miracle during the ministry of Christ that all four gospel writers record. Mark wants us to know about the difference between the 5000 & 4000 group in Mk. 8. The 5000+ group was predominantly a Jewish crowd, because both accounts feeding 5000 use the word “kophinos” for baskets, Mt. 14:20 & Mk. 6:43. The second event of 4000 men, recorded in Mt. 15 & Mk. 8 is predominantly a Gentile crowd, because both accounts feeding 4000 use the word “spuris” for baskets, Mt. 15:37 & Mk. 8:8. Which may explain why the disciples don’t seem to expect Jesus to feed them, even after they saw him feed the Jewish crowd beforehand. Notice in the first event the disciples come to Jesus asking about food for the crowd, but in the second event, it is the other way around. Jesus asks the disciples about feeding the crowd. Notice, regardless of what kind of people are in the crowds, in each case, Jesus performs the miracle, but the disciples are commanded to distribute the miracle. Setting people in segregated groups of 50 – 100 (Luke 9:14, Mark 6:39-40) Is there a lesson for the church to learn from this in the distribution of God’s word? His word is certainly produced miraculously and abundantly, but how do we distribute it? Paul taught in 2nd Corinthians 9:8-12, “Besides, God is able to make every blessing of yours overflow for you, so that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work. As it is written, “He scatters everywhere and gives to the poor; his righteousness lasts forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the farmer and bread to eat will also supply you with seed and multiply it and enlarge the harvest that results from your righteousness. In every way you will become even more generous, and this will cause others to give thanks to God because of us, because this ministry you render is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, it is also overflowing with more and more prayers of thanksgiving to God. Herein may be the point of these miracles in the Bible, that is: God’s generosity towards us through His word, is what promotes praise & thanksgiving so that others in the world will get fed. More people will get fed, than you can dream of, if you will feed them with whatever amount of God’s word you have to give them!

Walking on Water

Where were the eyes of Peter’s heart focused? This was more important than where his feet were or what they were doing, Ephesians 1:17-18. The point of this miracle is to teach us how hard it is to walk spiritually with God, when storms hit us. The New Testament is used by God to teach us to keep walking and when the storms of life get fierce, we must STAND, Ephesians 6:10-18. But for most of our life as a Christian, we are to walk in the newness of life, Romans 6:4, remembering that babies in Christ can’t walk, they must feed & grow! Walk by the rule that only a new creation counts for anything, Galatians 6:15-16. Walk in the good works God prepared for you, Ephesians 2:10. Walk in His love & light, Ephesians 5:2-8. Walk in wisdom, Colossians 4:5. Walk with him as a divine guest in the Spirit, Galatians 5:16-25. This is the miracle, which Jesus uses to emphasize the necessity of “walking”.

Healing the Sick

This fact shows there was a general consensus in the practice of Jews clinging to the commandment in Numbers 15:37-41 referencing the borders of garments having blue ribbons or fringes to remember the holy commandments of God in contrast to their own sinful desires of their hearts. Jesus was constantly searching and accomplishing His Father’s will. This was indicative of the holiness of God in a person’s life. Many theologians believe that this may be the only biblical reference to the kind of clothes Jesus wore, except for the mention of his seamless tunic – “chiton”, the soldiers at the cross valued, John 19:23-24.

MARK 6:1-29

Rejection at Nazareth, v1-6, Jesus is projecting himself as a prophet and knows the requirements of a prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15-18. He spoke with authority and as if he had a formal education, but he was just known as a carpenter! John 6:42, 7:15. What did he prophesy? The subject matter of his authoritative teaching was based on the Kingdom of God, Mark 1:15. It will come, Mk. 9:1. Why do you believe Jesus was rejected in his own hometown? So far, rejection is seen in every chapter of Mark.

1:14, John the Immersionist arrested, The forerunning prophet of Christ, rejected!

2:7, 16 & 24 The work & actions of Jesus rejected by scribes & pharisees.

3:6 & 22, The Pharisees & Herodians reject him and plot Christ’s death.

4:1-7, Most hearts/soil reject the word of Christ in the parable of the soils.

5:17 & 40 The people of the Decapolis reject Jesus’s power & Mourners laugh at him.

6:1-3, Locals in Nazareth reject him for who Christ is and what he teaches.

The statement about a prophet having honor, but not amongst his own family/friends is not from the Old Testament, it seems to be uniquely stated by Jesus. However, it is a well founded and broadly experienced fact of daily life. Another phrase that echoes the same truth is “familiarity breeds contempt”, which comes from more English usage than Hebrew. How can someone be so thoroughly rejected in so many ways & ultimately crucified, and yet still to this day be recieved?

There are only two recorded incidents of Jesus experiencing amazement, v6. The other incident is recorded in Matthew 8:8-10. What is the subject matter of both incidents?

The Pre-emptive Strikes of The First Disciples, v7-13, 

What can you do, when you’re given power over unclean spirits, one coat, a staff & sandals as well as a heart driven message of repentance with one other partner? You can heal sick people and free people possessed by demons. God loves these people and he was giving his apostles real successful on-the-job training. The Devil’s demons were dismayed! Since Jesus instructs the “dust shaking of feet”, we know he approves of us making people’s rejection of the truth a real task. No Christian should remain silent when we know people understand the truth, and openly reject it. When the truth is perverted and/or openly rejected, we must express the Lord’s disapproval of the sin. The ability to try and love a sinner while hating the sin, is expressed clearly in Jude v22-23. But never should we ever give people the impression that our love for the sinner is in any way approval of their sin. Repentance is for ALL, see Acts 17:30.

The Martyrdom of John the Immersionist, v14-29, What could you do that would make someone hate you more than “half of a kingdom”? John the Immersionist repeatedly pronounced the marriage of Herod and his brother’s wife as not “EXESTI”, legal, v18. This Greek word is translated “not permitted, allowed or legal”, elsewhere in the New Testament, Jn. 5:10, Jn. 18:31, 1st Cor. 6:12 & 10:23, 2nd Cor. 12:4, Ac. 2:29, 8:37, 16:21. So it’s force is to make something possible or impossible. It is not an exclusive legal term, therefore John the immersionist didn’t really care what Herod’s law was or Moses’ law was, but was primarily concerned with what God’s law is. Today, we have the same task of declaring what is right or wrong in the context of marriage. Civil laws may change, but God’s law remains the same. There is only one reason for allowing divorce & re-marriage and that is sexual immorality (PORNIAH) Mat. 19:9. There is only one reason for marriage, a man’s love and a woman’s love can be sanctified in holy matrimony, uniting them in God’s love. This makes polygamy and any kind of sexual union by homosexual’s EXESTI

Mark 5:21-43

The last time Mark records Jesus healing anyone from or in a Synagogue, (Mk. 3:1-6) was the man with a lame hand, and there are scant signs that he had any faith in Jesus as God to heal. It was an incident of Jesus proclaiming his power, teaching his critics to see how wrong they were abusing the law and leaving people with needs unattended.

The Faith of the Fearful Father

After Jesus had calmed a storm, a tempestuous lake and raging demon possessed men, now he calms a Father pressing urgently for help as his daughter lay at home dying. Just because we are faithful or friends of God’s children does not mean we do not become distressed with disasters which God allows us to use to help deliver those hurting which we love, Acts. 28:7-9.

~ His faith had led him to hunt Jesus down while traveling from town to town.

~ His faith had led him to fall at the feet of Jesus, showing submission to The Teacher.,

~ His faith had led him to ask Jesus to come to his house and lay his hands on his daughter.

How do you use your faith, when you are fearful and/or distressed?

The Faith of the Hemorrhaging Woman

While Jesus was traveling to try and help one person, he took time to learn who else needed his strength to heal people, his work was constant, he never worried about distractions. This story should teach us that our faith should be something that can be perceived, even when never openly proclaimed, Acts 14:8-10.

~ Her faith had led her to publicly hunt Jesus down when she was poverty-stricken and sick.

~ Her faith had led her to tell herself that if she could touch his clothes she would be healed.

~ Her faith had led her to fall down before him and tell him the whole truth.

How do you use your faith, when you are hurting and/or desperate?

In verse 28, the word “healed”, in the Greek is actually the same word for ‘saved’, so it seems Mark may be trying to motivate the reader to desire touching Jesus through this story and be saved. If we could see ourselves as desperate as this woman who had no hope but Jesus, we too, would be drawn to search for Jesus and hear his life-giving words, “your faith has made you well”. Are you spiritually healthy or spiritually sick? Sin sick souls are sentenced to suffer with Satan! Do we have Jesus Christ and his life-giving Spirit anointing us with healing?

In verse 38-40, there is no gentle Jesus, meek & mild, but rather a forceful and determined Christ taking action against the chaotic, noisy and distressed crowd, to clear the area with calm so the parents, upset by the girl’s death, could focus on attending to their daughter’s needs. Only in v41 does Jesus change in attitude to gently administer God’s power into a corpse for life renewed.

In verse 43, the stern warning of silence from Jesus is his way of trying to get the people to help him with the issue of timing his ministry to publicly draw attention to his suffering, not his powerful authority. His suffering would draw everyone to him for the life, strength and wisdom we need. The best reason for commanding silence for now is stated in John 5:41. Who does Christ really want us to honor?

Mark 5:1-20

After Jesus had established his authority over the destructive physical environment in the eyes of his closest followers by calming the storm and lake. Now he would demonstrate his authority over the destructive powers of the spiritual environment around them. This incident Jesus masters, is called by many of us, an exorcism. The strength and courage Jesus shows is remarkable, considering the fact that he is outside Israel in unfamiliar territory. As far as the four gospels record, Jesus only ventures outside of Israel during his ministry twice, but when he does, he wastes no time manifesting the power of God against the devils most destructive works. When we leave our comfort zone, how aware are we that our battle is against the spiritual forces of evil? See Ephesians 6:12

v7, Though it seems odd for a demon to invoke God’s name (“I implore you by God”) in his demands of Jesus, the parallel story in Mat. 8:29 suggests the reason: “Why have you come to torment us before the time?” There was an appointed time in which demons would face their judgment, and they seem to have viewed the arrival of Jesus on the scene as an illegitimate change in God’s plan regarding the time when their sentence would be executed. It is a pity that worldly people do not see “an appointed time” God has proclaimed and promised to come, but the demons do. Do you?

The most peculiar fact about this exorcism is the torturous way Jesus deals with the unclean spirits (Legion is a military term which Romans used to describe thousands of soldiers). Jesus had already exorcized unclean spirits many times before this encounter, but this one shows how he treats the real culprits. By contrast, he emphasizes what cost the healed man should pay, which is to preach the mercy shown to him in his hometown. Do we consider sharing our faith and story of conversion, a duty that is commanded of us, or a privilege? See Romans 1:16.

Luke tells us about a characteristic of unclean spirits; they do not like water, Luke 11:24. So why would Jesus permit a huge number of unclean spirits to go into pigs, if he knew they would be forced to run into a lake and drown? Because they asked for it and deserved to wander in discontent. The price of many pigs’ pain and the loss of the farmer’s income was worth the lesson in punishing the unclean spirits. How the public reacted to the healed man’s liberty and salvation was entirely up to the people of Decapolis, afterall, they could rely on the well known fact of the healed man’s testimony to help them gain the community’s help in rebuilding the pig farm. This could be one reason Jesus insisted on saying “no” to the healed man’s request to follow Jesus into Israel. The healed man would of course bless others with the work of God’s message for salvation, and also make the community aware of the pig farmer’s need for help. The people of the Decapolis are an interesting community; The Decapolis refers to a group of towns (originally consisting of ten; the Greek name literally means “ten towns”). Their unity came from their Greek culture and stories, which set them apart from surrounding areas. So it was possible for news to travel faster amongst them, than most other towns. There is no mention of the people being angry at the loss of the pig herd, but rather the community feared Jesus in the same way the disciples feared Jesus when he stilled the storm & lake, Mk. 4:41. Christians today need this kind of fear of God, it would certainly help us in praising Him as we should and promote the spread of his good news. 

v20, Mark ends the story with a subtle but significant point.  The man could not separate what God had done, from the one (JESUS) through whom God had done it. This man was called to be a witness of God’s goodness through Jesus at home!