OUR EYES OF FAITH NEED CLEAR VISION OF THE POWER AND SUFFICIENCY OF OUR SAVIOR
We have observed many key threads as we have studied through the first half of the gospel of Mark — 4 most prominent threads:
– The most important = the identity of Jesus as the true Messiah, the son of God
o Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”
o Mark 8:29 confession of Peter: “You are the Christ”
What do people say about Who Jesus is?
– Two halves to the book – First half is all about the:
THE AUTHORITY AND MIGHTY WORKS OF THE SON OF GOD
VS. THE REDEMPTIVE MISSION OF THE SUFFERING SERVANT
o Authority in His Teaching
o Authority in His miracles of healing
o Authority in His power over demons and even over death itself
– Increasing opposition from the Jewish religious leaders who remain spiritually blinded and hard-hearted
– Training of the Twelve for their leadership as Jesus hands off the baton to them for the fulfillment of the Great Commission – involved in that is the transition of taking the gospel now to the Gentiles – especially important is the development of their faith – they fail many tests but the Master Teacher patiently continues to build them up and prepare them
Today we are tackling a big chunk of Chap. 8 – 26 verses – looking more at the big picture than all of the details; Why this approach? Because it hangs together thematically as a unit of thought – preparing us for the great watershed that divides this gospel in half – the confession of Peter at the end of the chapter
We like to pat ourselves on the back for our spiritual discernment. We can easily be puffed up with pride because of an imbalance between knowledge about Jesus Christ and vibrant faith in Jesus. How can we tell we have maturity issues? Trials and difficulties reveal to us how far short we fall of mature faith. We easily sink into worry and fear and doubts and insecurities. Our physical vision is easy to measure. We take a simple eye chart test and we know where we stand. I see a lot differently with my glasses on as opposed to off. It is more subtle with our eyes of faith.
Today I want you to go to the eye doctor with me and humbly ask the Great Physician to give you insight into the condition of your spiritual vision. How strong is your faith? How quickly are you grasping the spiritual lessons of the Master Teacher?
I. (:1-9) FOCUS OF SPIRITUAL VISION — THE BREAD OF LIFE CONTINUES TO PROVE SUFFICIENT FOR THE NEEDS OF ALL
A. (:1-4) Answers a Number of Complaints of Men
1. (:1) Lack of Knowledge – Jesus does not know what I am going through; my difficulties and needs
“In those days again, when there was a great multitude and they had nothing to eat, He called His disciples and said to them,”
Gospel accounts only provide us a partial account of what Jesus said and did; here we have no details about what particular teaching ministry Jesus had with the multitude on this occasion or what incidents of healing occurred; certainly a crowd did not just sit around for 3 days waiting to be dismissed by Jesus without some very significant happenings
MacArthur: There a massive crowd comes to Jesus by the Lake of Galilee and He heals them all…absolutely all of them, according to Matthew 15:29 to 31, He healed everybody who came and they were bringing all kinds of injuries, illnesses, diseases, etc. And this is all to demonstrate the healing purposes of God, the compassion of God and the salvation of God is intended for the world and for Gentiles.
Different incident than the feeding of the 5000 recorded earlier in Mark – Jesus refers to these two incidents as separate and distinct – (Mt. 16:9-10) – ends any debate with liberals on this
Probably still in predominantly Gentile territory – another contrast in the two feeding miracles
2. (:2-3) Lack of Compassion – Jesus does not care about my personal situation
“’I feel compassion for the multitude because they have remained with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away hungry to their home, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a distance.’”
Parunak: The English word literally means, “to suffer [passion] with [com].” Greek splagxnizomai “to be moved regarding the splagxna,” the inward parts, where we feel emotion. Describes a concern that arises out of feeling the other’s need, rather than a purely rational motivation.
Different kind of bible conference than we attend today – 3 days with no food!
Hiebert: because of their deep interest in Jesus, the people had stayed longer than anticipated, and their provisions were not completely exhausted. Their very eagerness to remain with Him had brought about the condition of need, and it deeply touched His heart. . . Jesus knew that some in the crowd had come from a great distance. In the Decapolis, the distances between the cities were greater than in thickly populated Galilee.
James Edwards: In describing the crowd Mark uses a rare and intensified form of the word for “remain,” prosmenein, connoting a special adherence and commitment to Jesus. The crowd has not been coincidentally present but intentionally with him. This is an unusually positive description of a crowd in Mark. Jesus again finds a reception among Gentiles that he has not found among Jews.
MacArthur: “faint on the way” — That’s a vivid word, it means to collapse, to come unstrung like a bow, to be made limp. They’ll drop like a bow string when you pull it off one end.
3. (:4) Lack of Power and Sufficiency – Jesus cannot deliver and sustain me
“And His disciples answered Him, ‘Where will anyone be able to find enough to satisfy these men with bread here in a desolate place?’”
Hiebert: It is a common observation that believers frequently forget God’s amazing dealings with them in the past when confronted with some new crisis.
Do you have any complaints against Jesus this morning??
B. (:5-9) Demonstrates the Power and Sufficiency of God
1. (:5) Dedicating All You Have to God
“And He was asking them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’
And they said, ‘Seven.’”
Remember we discussed at the earlier incident, where did the disciples get the available bread and fish? From canvassing the multitude or being willing to sacrifice their own stash??
Can’t hold anything back from God
Must use all available resources and giftedness
2. (:6a) Creating Expectations on the Part of the Crowd
“And He directed the multitude to sit down on the ground;”
Hiebert: No mention is now made of “the green grass” (6:39); months had passed since the feeding of the five thousand, and the dry, hot season had left the hills bare.
3. (:6b-7) Multiplying the Loaves and Fishes
a. (:6b) The Loaves
“and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the multitude.”
b. (:7) The Fish
“They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well.”
4. (:8-9) Satisfying Both the Crowd and the Disciples
a. (:8) Abundant Meal
“And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces.”
Hiebert: The baskets here evidently were larger than those used at the feeding of the five thousand, which were travelers’ baskets used to carry a day’s food supply. . . larger hampers . . . This would suggest that the food now left over was actually more than that at the feeding of the five thousand.
Acts 9:25 – hamper size basket was used to lower Paul down from the wall
b. (:9) Successful Solution
“And about four thousand were there; and He sent them away.”
But because of spiritual blindness everybody doesn’t get the message – in fact apart from the gracious touch of the Messiah upon our eyes of faith … no one gets it
C. Creates a Major Complaint on the Part of Jesus: Why Don’t You Get It???
– Understand Who Jesus is
– Trust fully in Jesus
– Have spiritual discernment of the lessons Jesus is trying to teach them
Does Jesus have a complaint with you this morning?
II. (:10-12) FAÇADE OF SPIRITUAL VISION — THE BLINDED AND HARD-HEARTED PHARISEES CONTINUE TO PUT JESUS TO THE TEST — DEMANDING AUTHENTICATION
“And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples,
and came to the district of Dalmanutha.”
Hiebert: The location apparently was on the northwestern shore, perhaps at the southern end of the plain of Gennesaret.
A. (:11) Critical Spirit of the Pharisees (Matt. 16:1-4)
“And the Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him,”
MacArthur: three features that mark the spiritually blind and they come out very readily.
– Number one, They’re…people who are spiritually blind are comfortable only with others who are also blind, even if they’re enemies. . .
– the second is, that the darkness deepens. The more evidence you give them, the deeper they go. . .
– And thirdly, they’re condemned to terminal blindness.
2. Seeking special authenticating sign
“seeking from Him a sign from heaven,”
Hiebert: when the seeking is conducted in a challenging and demanding manner, it denotes a dispute. . . Their demand was a demonstration of their spiritual blindness. They failed to recognize the Messianic signs already being given, while demanding a sign of their own choosing.
Edwards: a confirmation of Jesus’ ministry from God himself, an “outward compelling proof of divine authority” (Cranfield)
3. Motivation = to trap and expose Jesus
“to test Him.”
Edwards: the word for “test” does not mean an objective test to discover the merit of something, but an obstacle or stumbling block to discredit. It occurs only four times in Mark, once of Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (1:13) and three times of the opposition of the Pharisees (8:11; 10:2; 12:15). It is thus apparent in v. 11 that the Pharisees represent a challenge and confrontation of Jesus.
B. (:12) Troubled Spirit of Jesus
1. Lamenting Their Unbelief
“And sighing deeply in His spirit,”
2. Questioning Their Motivation
“He said, ‘Why does this generation seek for a sign?’”
Two views for “this generation”:
Grassmick: The words this generation denoted the nation of Israel represented by those religious leaders (cf. 8:38; 9:19; 13:30). They continually rejected God’s gracious dealings with them (cf. Deut. 32:5-20; Ps. 95:10).
Parunak: The “generation”: Three other times in Mark
1) Its character: adulterous, sinful (8:38), faithless (9:19)
2) Its timing (13:30): until the Lord’s return.
3) Not a conventional generation of 20 or 40 years, but those who inhabit this present age (aiwn, cf. 10:30; Luke 16:8 explicitly relates aiwn and genea. Gal. 1:4 denotes this present aiwn as evil.)
4) In Mark and Luke this word functions much as kosmos does in John, for an evil system opposed to God. 1 Cor 1:20 links aiwn with kosmos.
5) In 13:30, watch out for date setting based on how long a generation is! Hal Lindsey’s error in LGPE
3. Refusing to Take the Bait
“Truly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.’”
Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus would be the ultimate confirmation of His identity and authority as Messiah = “sign of Jonah”
Parunak: The Lord will not cast his pearls before swine, Matt 7:6. Cf. Acts 13:46. Not every question deserves an answer. The Lord does not respond when people are trying to trap him; instead, he calls attention to their hypocrisy. “The real intent of your question is not to get an answer, but to attack me; therefore it is appropriate for me to unveil your hypocrisy in pretending to seek instruction.”
John 1 – Jesus came as a light to the world – to the Jews and to the Gentiles
III. (:13-21) FRUSTRATION OF SPIRITUAL VISION — SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING CONTINUES TO BE A CHALLENGE FOR TRUE DISCIPLES
A. (:13-16) Disciples Tend to Lose Focus
1. (:13-14) Weakness – Creates Vulnerability
a. (:13) Transition
“And leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.”
Hiebert: Mark’s and indicates continuation and implies that this paragraph stands in close connection with the scene just described (vv. 11-13).
“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
b. (:14) Human Weakness
“And they had forgotten to take bread;
and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.”
2. (:15) Warning – Contrasts the Leaven of the Bad Influences with the Bread of Heaven
“And He was giving orders to them, saying, ‘Watch out!
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’”
2 present imperatives – keep up this state of vigilance
Leaven a picture of ongoing fermentation of evil and corruption in the scriptures – like a cancer that spreads its destructiveness
Quite a contrast between the leaven of the Pharisees and the Bread of Heaven who came down to give light to the world (John 1)
Hiebert: leaven refers to the teaching of those warned against. Clearly Christ was thinking of the penetrating and corrupting influence of the teachings of His opponents. . . Their perverted views concerning moral goodness and moral evil (cf. 7:1-23) left them morally blind and unable to discern the mission and character of the Messiah.
Hendriksen: Yeast and teaching resemble each other in several respects:
a. both operate invisibly,
b. are very potent, and
c. have a tendency gradually to augment their sphere of influence
3. (:16) Worry – Characterizes the Humanistic, Pessimistic Outlook of the Disciples
“And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.”
B. (:17-21) Disciples Tend to Regress Back to Dullness — What is Your Problem?
1. (:17) Introductory Rebuke
“And Jesus, aware of this, said to them,
‘Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?
Do you not yet see or understand?
Do you have a hardened heart?’”
2. (:18-20) Detailed Rebuke
a. Problem with Your Vision
“Having eyes, do you not see?”
b. Problem with Your Hearing
“And having ears, do you not hear?”
Parunak: This is a quote from Jer. 5:21, which sets two conditions in parallel: rebellion (5:23, like the Pharisees), and lack of appreciation for the Lord’s sovereign provision (5:24, like the disciples). – cf. Ezek. 12:2
c. Problem with Your Memory
“And do you not remember,”
1) (:19) Review of Feeding Miracle #!
“’When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?’
They said to Him, ‘Twelve.’”
2) (:20) Review of Feeding Miracle #2
“’And when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?’
And they said to Him, ‘Seven.’”
Hiebert: His own act had twice created material abundance in a time of crisis. Would they then need to worry about their material needs when they had one loaf with them? The memory of the disciples was clear and accurate concerning the historical facts, but they had failed to deduce the appropriate spiritual truth from those facts. They yet failed to grasp the true significance of His Person.
3. (:21) Summary Rebuke
“And He was saying to them, ‘Do you not yet understand?’”
IV. (:22-26) FIX OF SPIRITUAL VISION — CLEAR SPIRITUAL VISION RESULTS FROM THE MESSIAH CONTINUING TO GRACIOUSLY TOUCH THE EYES OF OUR FAITH
A. (:22) Plight of the Blind Man
“And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Him, and entreated Him to touch him.”
Edwards: The juxtaposition of the two stories is a clue that the lingering blindness of the disciples may also be relieved, as is the blindness of the man at Bethsaida, by the continued touch of Jesus.
B. (:23-25) Two Stage Process of Healing the Vision of the Blind Man
Only recorded miracle of Jesus performed in stages rather than instantaneously – except the feeding miracles could be viewed as ongoing in the process of breaking and distributing …
1. (:23-24) First Stage
“And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes, and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’ And he looked up and said, ‘I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about.’”
Sees the apostles as large and indistinct objects – sort of how I see people without my glasses on!
No clear focus; no distinct images
Grassmick: The touch of saliva and Jesus’ hands conveyed His intentions and stimulated the blind man’s faith.
Hiebert: Why 2 stages? . . . Others have suggested that it was intended as a parabolic lesson to the twelve to teach them that they too needed a further touch to clarify their understanding of the Person of Christ. The fact that this miracle occurs following clear instances of their spiritual dullness of the disciples (vv. 4, 18) is suggestive of an intended lesson for them.
Cf. Jesus cleansing the feet of the disciples – teaching them that although they are cleansed at point of salvation, they need to experience ongoing cleansing
John 13:10 “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean”
Grassmick: This miracle depicts the correct but incomplete understanding of the disciples.
2. (:25) Second Stage
“Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.”
C. (:26) Dismissal of the Blind Man
“And He sent him to his home, saying, ‘Do not even enter the village.’”
MacArthur: you have a confirmation of judgment…you have a confirmation of judgment. Bethsaida is not just any town. They have had high exposure to Jesus. And if you will remember this, in the eleventh chapter of Matthew Jesus in verse 20 began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done. The cities in which most of His miracles were done because they didn’t repent, so He denounces them. Here they are.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” Bethsaida was a town in which most of His miracles were done. Then He says this, what is the curse? “If the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, Bethsaida, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.” And then He pronounces the same judgment on Capernaum, His headquarters for His Galilean ministry. And that is repeated in Luke 10:13, the same thing. Bethsaida, home of three Apostles. Scene of many, many, many miracles, including the feeding of the vast multitude, high exposure to the Lord and His power is cursed. And what is that curse? That at the Great White Throne Judgment in the future when all the ungodly come to the final tribunal and they will, all who have ever lived, all the ungodly will come to the final tribunal of the Great White Throne Judgment and God will judge them and send them to everlasting hell forever, that judgment will be rendered individually to people and to places. Tyre and Sidon, idolatrous, pagan, Gentile, notoriously wicked, a seaport known for crime, vice, prostitution violence, profanity, greed, injustice, doomed by the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 25 and 47 of his prophecy, guilty of selling Jewish slaves, according to Amos chapter 1 verse 9, this was a vile, vile, vile area. Tyre and Sidon were two wicked cities.
On the other hand, there’s Bethsaida…Jewish, proud of its religious heritage, proud of its religious loyalty, a synagogue town, the people who migrated to the temple to worship and sacrifice, and Jesus says, “Hell will be hotter for the inhabitants of Bethsaida then it will be for the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon,” far worse, far worse judgment falls on them.
Our Lord’s leaving Bethsaida, our Lord’s denying the man the right to go back and tell the town what had happened to him is to assure the disciples of the seriousness of this curse. Yes they need to understand grace, they need to understand compassion and the tenderness of Jesus and the touch of Jesus, but His disciples need to understand judgment also. And because Bethsaida did not repent when they had such exposure to Christ, they’ll have a far greater judgment.
Relationship between failure of faith and sin of lack of spiritual perception and failure to remember the great deeds of God on our behalf; How has your eye exam turned out?