Mark 8:1-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 9, 2005


Jesus had taken His disciples with Him to the northwest, the Gentile land of Tyre and Sidon to get away from the crowds. From there they traveled to the east, then around the Sea of Galilee to Decapolis, the area southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The first time Jesus had visited Decapolis, he met the wild man of Gadara. When Jesus cast the demons out of the man, the demons made a herd of pigs kill themselves and the people asked Jesus to leave. But the wild man had been asked by Jesus to tell his family and friends what great things God had done for him, and now when Jesus came to Decapolis, the crowds are coming out to see Him.

(Mark 7:37 KJV) And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

The story continues in Decapolis

:1-9 Feeding four thousand

:2 I have compassion on the multitude … been with me three days

I imagine that the folks might have brought some food with them, but now after three days, everyone has run out of food.

I have compassionsplagchnizomai – to be moved as to one’s bowels, the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity, hence to be moved with compassion.

When Jesus had sent the wild man of Gadara back to his friends in the Decapolis, He said to him,

(Mark 5:19 KJV)  Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion (eleeo, “mercy”) on thee.

Jesus is going to show them what compassion looks like.

:4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

That’s an interesting question, considering that they had already seen Jesus feed five thousand in another wilderness area.

This is not some mistake in the Scriptures.  There were two separate events where Jesus fed large crowds out in the wilderness.  Both Matthew and Mark record each separate event.  And we’ll see Jesus at the end of our section refer to the two separate events.

:6 …gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples …

This all happened just like when Jesus fed the five thousand.  The multiplication takes place in Jesus’ hands.  He keeps giving more pieces of bread to the disciples to hand out.

:8 …they took up of the broken meat …

broken meat – the leftovers

:10-13 Asking for a sign

:10 …came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha – is a town on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, near Magdala

:11 And the Pharisees came forth…seeking of him a sign …tempting him.

Jesus is now back on the Jewish side of the lake, and the Pharisees show up again to cause Him trouble.

signsemeion – a sign, mark; of miracles and wonders by which God shows that the people performing the miracles are from Him.

temptingpeirazo – to put someone to the test to see what he’s made of.

They had already seen Jesus perform miracles like healing the blind and the lame. But now they want to see something even bigger, even more spectacular.

:12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit…There shall no sign be given

sighed deeplyanastenazo – to draw up deep sighs from the bottom of the breast, to sigh deeply; from stenazo – a sigh, to groan with grief


The grief of unbelief

Wiersbe: “Faith does not ask for signs. True faith takes God at His Word and is satisfied with the inward witness of the Spirit.”
Yet Jesus did perform “signs” proving that His divinity and that He was the Messiah.
John specifically recorded certain miracles that Jesus did because they were these very “signs”.

(John 20:30-31 KJV)  And many other signs (semeion) truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: {31} But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The point:  God doesn’t do miracles to entertain those who have no intention of believing.
The Pharisees had already made up their mind about Jesus.  They thought He was demon possessed (Mark 3:22).
A professor—also an atheist—was teaching a college class and he told the class that he was going to prove that there is no a God. He said, “God if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you 15 minutes!” Ten minutes went by. He kept taunting God, saying, “Here I am God, I’m still waiting” He got down to the last couple of minutes and a BIG 240 pound football player happened to walk by the door and heard about what the professor said. The football player walked in the classroom and in the last minute, he walked up, hit the professor full force, and sent him flying off the platform. The professor got up, obviously shaken and said, “Where did you come from, and why did you do that?” The football player replied, “God was busy. He sent me.”
God doesn’t do miracles just to wow an unbeliever.
Matthew records a little more of the conversation:
(Mat 16:1-4 KJV) The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. {2} He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. {3} And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? {4} A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

When Jesus talked about weather, He was saying that the Pharisees already had all the signs they needed.  They just needed to open their eyes.

The “sign of Jonah” referred to the death and resurrection of Jesus (Mat. 12:40).

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the ones that put Jesus to death, and even though He rose from the dead, most of them would still not believe.

For those who don’t believe, the miracle God wants to point to is His death and resurrection.
He died on a cross for a reason.  He died as a sacrifice.  He died in our place, paying the penalty for our sins. 
He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.
And when He had paid our debt, He rose from the dead to show that He had conquered death.
If you are not a person who has made a choice to follow Jesus, this is the critical thing God wants you look at.

Jesus died for you.  He lives for you.

:14-21 The slow disciples

:14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

had forgottenepilanthanomai – to forget; literally, “they had completely forgotten …”

All they had was one loaf of bread.

Guys only think of food when they’re hungry.  When they got in the boat they must not have been hungry.

This proves that there were no women among the disciples. Women wouldn’t have forgotten to bring something as important as food.

I wonder:  What happened to the seven hampers of leftovers?

:15 …Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

Jesus is still thinking about the Pharisees and their testing Him, asking for a sign.

The disciples are thinking of dinner.

leavenzume – leaven. Leaven is the yeast you add to the bread dough that makes the dough rise.  Without leaven, you get a tortilla.  With leaven, you get a loaf of bread.

Herod – Dalmanutha is very close to Tiberias, the site of Herod’s palace.

:16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.

The disciples don’t get it. Jesus is thinking about important things. They’re thinking about dinner.


Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: “Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gosh, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let’s see . . .February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . let me check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed-even before I sensed it-that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a .............! warranty. I’ll take their warranty and ....

“Roger,” Elaine says aloud.

“What?” says Roger, startled.

“Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. “Maybe I should never have ... Oh goodness, I feel so ...” (She breaks down, sobbing.)

“What?” says Roger.

“I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs. “I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

“There’s no horse?” says Roger.

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine says.

“No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

“It’s just that . . . It’s that I . . . I need some time,” Elaine says.

There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) “Yes,” he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

“Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says.

“What way?” says Roger.

“That way about time,” says Elaine.

“Oh,” says Roger. “Yes.”

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

“Thank you, Roger,” she says.

“Thank you,” says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it. (This is also Roger’s policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: “Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?”

Sometimes guys are just a little clueless. We don’t always seem too dialed into what’s happening around us. It seems the disciples were like that from time to time.

Jesus is concerned about the deadly teachings of the Pharisees and the Herodians. The disciples are thinking about McDonald’s.  They think that Jesus is just telling them to not order the Pharisee-fries or the Herodian-half-pounder when they reach their next stopover.

:19 …how many baskets …

basketskophinos – little wicker lunch baskets

:20 …how many baskets …

basketsspuris – a reed basket, a large hamper large enough to hold a man (Acts 9:25). I have a notion that there were probably more left-overs from the event.

:21 How is it that ye do not understand?

There were two things they didn’t understand:

1.  They didn’t understand that they shouldn’t have been worried about food. If Jesus could provide for the five thousand and the four thousand, then he could provide for the twelve.

2.  They didn’t understand the gravity of the sinful teaching of the Pharisees.

Their “doctrine”, their teaching, was one of their chief sins.  They taught the wrong things about God.
The Pharisees taught hypocrisy – they taught one thing, but lived another.
The Herodians were a worldly group – people that hung around Herod and his fleshly ways, people that thought that Herod was as good of a kingdom as it got.
Bad teaching, like leaven, will spread and corrupt the whole lump of dough.



The language Jesus used back in verse 18 are the very same words that Jeremiah used to describe the wicked, backslidden people of Judah that he was trying to reach:
(Jer 5:21 KJV) Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:
This is the language that God uses when He talks about the pagan idols.  The psalmist talks about idols (Ps. 115:5-8).  Idols have eyes but don’t see, ears, but don’t hear.  Those who follow idols become like them.
When you’re backslidden, you’re a little dull of hearing.  You’re a little insensitive to the things God wants you to pay attention to.
Worshipping idols looks a lot like religious rituals.  It involves a bunch of nonsense that nobody understands, yet we repeat it over and over again because we think this is what it means to do the “god-thing”.

Religious rituals without meaning makes you dull of hearing.

God doesn’t want you to be religious.  He wants you to know Him and walk with Him.

He doesn’t want you to have religion.  He wants you to have a relationship with Him.

What do you think about?  Burgers or blessings? Feeding your stomach or your spirit.?
God wants us to be a little deeper.