Mark 8:1-26: Who, Me?
Have you ever overlooked an opportunity to serve someone because you doubted that God could use you to help him or her? Tell us about it. The disciples had the same problem, and they still missed the point even after Christ used their meager resources to feed a second mega-crowd.
Let's read verses 1-21.
What is exemplary about the large crowd that had gathered? (They desired to be with Jesus so much that they had gone without food for three days!)
How willing are you to sacrifice in order to spend time with Jesus?
Instead of just feeding the four thousand, why do you think Jesus first calls the disciples together for a huddle in verses 1-5? What kind of feedback was He looking for? (He was giving them an opportunity to share in His compassion, ask for Him to work and use them in the process. He was seeking a reply along the lines of: "We have seven loaves here. I'm sure you can use them to feed the crowd – just like you did last time.")
In both feeding miracles, the disciples only saw the obstacles instead of seeing that "all things are possible with God". What different obstacles did they point out in the feedings of the 4000 and 5000? (Distance was the obstacle here in verse 4, whereas money was their concern in 6:37.)
What roadblocks threaten to keep you from ministering to others? Let's stop now and ask the Lord to help us overcome them. (Silent or verbal prayer.)
Enter the Pharisees once again. What do they want this time? (a sign from heaven.) Why do you think Jesus refuses to give them one? (He use of power was motivated by compassion for human need, not to put on a magic show to prove Himself, especially to people who've already called His power demonic!)
As a further expression of His indignation, Jesus abruptly gets in the boat and leaves the Pharisees behind. Possibly in their haste to keep up with Jesus, the disciples forget to bring bread aboard.
What does Jesus mean by His mini-parable on yeast? (Yeast is a common biblical symbol for evil, since both grow quickly and easily, often hidden from view. Jesus didn't want the disciples to be corrupted by the Pharisees, but to remember that following Him requires faith, not proof.)
How did the disciples misunderstand Him? (They took it as advice about not accepting bread from certain sources. They thought they were being scolded for their lack of foresight, but Jesus was much more concerned about their lack of faith.)
After rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus has some scolding words for His disciples as well. What is His main point in verses 17-21? (In a series of eight questions, He rebukes them for their lack of spiritual perception and failure to learn from either of His feeding miracles. According to William Lane, "Repeated exposure to Jesus' teaching and mighty works had not led to reflection on their significance but to a basic insensitivity and dullness." [Lane 281] They continue to be preoccupied with temporal concerns such as bread and distance and money, instead of trusting the great Provider who was right there with them in the boat!)
How can we avoid the errors of both the Pharisees and the disciples? (We should not demand things from God just for mere proof. On the other hand, we should not be so blind and hardened to peoples' needs that we don't ask anything of God. We should neither demand too much, nor expect too little from God. And unlike either of the two groups, we should offer ourselves to be used of God to meet the needs of people.)
In the remainder of our passage, Mark moves from spiritual to physical blindness.
Let's read verses 22-26.
When "some people brought a blind man", what does Jesus do? ("He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.")
Why do you think Jesus led him outside the village? (Possibly to both avoid publicity and give individual attention to the man in a quiet setting.)
How does Jesus heal him and why? (Jesus spit on his eyes and put His hands on the man, but it's unclear why Christ used this method. Touching the man is consistent with Christ's compassionate touch of many He healed, and the spittle on the eyes was perhaps to communicate His intentions to the blind man, who's sense of touch was heightened.)
Why do you think the healing came in two stages? (Since Christ's question seems to anticipate his blurry vision, perhaps Jesus sensed that the man's faith was not complete. But the important thing is that Jesus finished the job, which is encouraging to those of us who, like the disciples, don't always get what God is teaching us the first time around.)
Let's pray that God will enable us to see what Jesus is doing among us, and ask for faith to be used of Him to bless others.