Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You Still Don't Get It, Do You?

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.  And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”  And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.  (Mr 8:14-16)

By now you have seen any number of memes, such as the one at right, expressing disbelief, exasperation, or frustration over what people say and do with the information they have.  The applicability in the above scenario should not elude any wondering just how clueless the disciples were about Jesus’ mission and teaching.  The Lord was trying to teach these men a lesson to avoid what the Pharisees were hustling.  Rather than being a random teaching session, Jesus wants to drive home a point.
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?  Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?  And do you not remember?  (Mr 8:17-18)
Admittedly, Jesus withheld much from the twelve, but they were so focused on what was happening at the moment that they had missed important spiritual truths he was imparting.  What was the back story?  There were two occasions when large crowds had been listening to Jesus for an extended period of time, and no sufficient food source was readily available.
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.”  “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”  And they said to him, “Seven.”  (Mr 8:19-20)
Jesus took the twelve through two separate occasions when He had supplied abundantly for all.  Their fixation on the lack of bread in the boat should not have been a concern.
And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”  (Mr 8:21)
Ouch!  That hurt.  Jesus repeats the question, probably causing the twelve to consider crawling under a rock out of utter embarrassment.  But this was not the main point they should have gotten out of their time with the Lord.  Mark, in his gospel, builds parallel passages that help us see what the disciples did not at the time.

Feeding of multitude5,000 (6:31–56) 4,000 (8:1–10)
Confrontation with opponentsPharisees and scribes (7:1–13) Pharisees and Herod (8:11–13)
Disciples misunderstandDefilement (7:14–23) Leaven (8:14–21)
HealingSyrophoenician woman’s daughter near Tyre (7:24–30)
Deaf man in the region of the Decapolis (7:31–37)
Blind man in Bethsaida (8:22–26)

Mark offers a reason for their misunderstanding: For they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened (Mr 6:52)—a striking description because it is used for the Pharisees (Mr 10:5).  The active opponents and proponents both suffered from the same malady, which could only be corrected by Divine involvement: spiritual healing was required.  The healings at the end of the parallel passages act as pointers to what Jesus would do in the apostles: remove what is causing the problem, open the ear to hear, open the eye to see.  The narration moves toward the pinnacle in which the disciples finally voice their recognition of who Jesus is (Mr 8:27-30) and see more proofs (Mr 9:2-13).  It would be nice to stop here and breath a sigh of relief, but there is more.  They understand, though imperfectly.  They take it all in, though colored by personal and Judaic interpretations of Messiah’s purpose and work.  More training will be necessary.  Much like the above-mentioned blind man, Jesus will need to work more to make their “sight” perfectly clear, and what He Himself could not do while He walked this earth, the Holy Spirit has undertaken to complete the work.

We are not any different today.  All are hardhearted toward Jesus and need His work for us to understand.  We are dead in sin, which blinds our eyes and deafens our ears to the gospel.  A mighty work is required to bring us from darkness to light.  We believe that His death was for us, and He gives us the life and understanding that we sorely lack.  We look forward to a completion of our Lord’s saving work—when He comes in power and glory to make all things new, putting away death, hell, and the devil.  In resurrection bodies we will see Him as He is and know as we are known.  Until that day, let us look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (He 12:1-2).


Stephen Pohl said...

Excellent post Steve.

Steve Bricker said...

Thank you. I appreciate it.