WEDNESDAY, AUG 1
SCRIPTURE: Mark 8
BY Jeremy Witt
In verses 1-10, you might think that Mark is repeating himself, but he is not. Mark and Matthew (15:32-39) give an account on this mass feeding of 4000+ people. The earlier account is to a predominately Jewish crowd, but this account is done to a predominately Gentile crowd. How do I say that? The area of the Ten Towns or Decapolis is predominately a Gentile area. So why is this important? Remember that Mark is writing primarily to Christians in Rome (non-Jews for the most part) and by showing that Jesus had compassion on Gentiles which would stand out to the original audience.
Jesus cared about the people regardless of their ethnicity. Remember the Samaritan woman. He cared about people regardless of their economic situation. Remember that they had no food. The point is that Jesus cared about people, especially the ones who were forgotten by the powerful. Let us remember this as we deal with others, but more importantly when we feel that God doesn’t care about ___________. He does. You matter to Him. The LORD God cares and loves you!
When we come to verses 11-13, Jesus comes into contact with the Pharisees (religious police) who try to demand Jesus do their bidding. Instead of playing their little games, Jesus jumps into the boat and leaves. I can just see those guys pouting, because they didn’t get their way. How dare he not do what we asked? I imagine that they got mad and said some things that I shouldn’t repeat even if I was there. But wait! Do you hear that still, small voice asking you a question? Do you (we) ever do that when Jesus doesn’t give us what I (we) want, do I (we)? Yeah, that got me too, because I am very guilty!
Jesus was a master teacher and an expert at taking advantage of teachable moments with the disciples. In verses 14-21, the disciples were arguing with each other about not having enough food, and Jesus had to remind them of how He provided with almost nothing. They hadn’t learned the lesson of God’s provision after two amazing miracles. Before we get too high on ourselves, I wonder how many times God has shown off and done something God-sized in our lives, and we have forgotten it? In verse 17, Jesus asks, “are your hearts too hard to take it in?” In verse 18, he says, “you have eyes, can’t you see? You have ears, can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all?” We are just like them if we are not careful. Take a moment or two and remember what the LORD has personally shown you.
Jesus heals a blind man in verse 22-26 but doesn’t heal the man in front of the crowds. After this healing, Jesus and the disciples are walking and Jesus asks them, “who do people say that I am?” Peter answers with that Jesus is the Messiah and is told not to tell others. Why would He do that? The answer lies in the following verses as Jesus goes into predicting His death for the first time in verses 31-38. What jumps out to me is the interaction between Jesus and Peter in verses 32-33. Peter was focused on his own understanding of Jesus and what Jesus was saying was not what Peter wanted to hear. He was focused upon his own feelings. There is a whole series of things to say about our feelings, but now is not the time, but what we must see is that his feelings were selfish and not anywhere close to God’s purposes. Many times in our journey with Christ, we will face persecution, going without, isolation, and even suffering. No one wants to talk about that or go through that, but following after Christ is not wealth and comfort. But following Jesus is submitting to Him, seeking His will over our own, and seeking to glorify the LORD.
There is something else that needs to be noted. Peter was not possessed by the devil, but he was clearly persuaded by the devil, and Jesus calls it out by name. Even followers of Jesus can be persuaded by Satan, but a Christ follower cannot be possessed as we are filled with the Spirit and possessed by Jesus alone!
As we come to the end of the chapter, remember that Mark is speaking to those in and around Rome. When Mark mentions “take up their cross” the original audience knew what it meant as criminals would have to carry their cross to their execution place and were executed routinely on crosses throughout the empire. The main idea is submission is required by those who follow Jesus. It is His will above our own. Just as Jesus prayed in the garden, “Not My will, but Yours be done” Luke 22:42