Mark 8:1-21 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
Comments for Study 13

Mark 8:1-21
Memory Verse: 20


Facts about the different two miraculous multitude feeding.

* "another large crowd gathered" -The feeding of the four thousand (4,000) is a different than the feeding of the five thousand (5,000). (Mark 6:30-44) Seven differences:
    1. In the first instance the multitude had been with the Lord one day; in the second instance, three days.
    2. Upon the first occasion the disciples were told to "go and see" what supplies were available, while upon the other they were ready with the information before they were asked.
    3. When the five thousand were feed there were five loaves and two fishes, while for the four thousand there were seven loaves and a few fishes.
    4. The first time, which was near the Passover (spring), the multitude was told to sit in companies "upon the green grass," while the second time, later in the year when the grass of the Near East would be burnt by the oriental sun, they were instructed to sit "on the ground" (Literally, "on the earth").
    5. In the fist instance our Lord is said to have "blessed...the loaves," while upon the second occasion He is said to have given thanks, first for the loaves, and later to have "blessed" the fish.
    6. After the five thousand were fed twelve baskets of fragments remained, but when the four thousand were satisfied there were seven baskets left over.
    7. Obviously, the number that was fed was different in each instance.
    8. Jesus himself points out these are different events in verses 19-20.

* Matthew 14:13-21 contains the feeding of the 5,000. Matthew 15:29-39 contains the feeding of the 4,000. Luke and John only record the feeding of the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).

I. How Many Loaves Do you Have? (1-13)

Jesus' Mid-Ministry Travels

>1. To what time and place do the words "During those days" in verse 1 refer? (See 5:1-20 and 7:31-37)

* Mark 5:1-20 "They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat...As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed."

* Mark 7:31-37 "Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people..."

* Mark 8:1 "During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said,"

* Jesus had concentrated his early ministry in Galilee and around the Sea of Galilee. Then he went to Tyre and Sidon. Then he returned to the area of the Decapolis, ten cities south and east of the Sea of Galilee. (6:6, 31, 53, 56; 7:31; 8:13, 22; Matt. 15:29)

* Jesus may have went back to see how things were going and to help the people grow in faith.

* Mark records at the ending of the previous chapter that Jesus healed a deaf and mute man when he arrived in the Decapolis. He told those present not to tell anyone, but they did anyway.

>Why do you think the crowd had gathered?

* "another large crowd gathered" -There was no shepherd for the people in the land so many came to Jesus.

* The news of Jesus spread around because of many things. For example the Garesene demoniac had told of Jesus' grace throughout the area of the Decapolis. (5:1-20)

* The people who came to Jesus had all kinds of problems:
    Demon possession (spiritual problems)
    Diseases and handicaps (physical problems)
    Emptiness and loneliness (social problems)
    Material needs (bread problem)
    Curiosity (searching/lost problem)

* During the three days Jesus taught the word of God, healed people, and cast out demons. 7:31-37 is the only specific event recorded that Jesus did in this gathering. From this we can learn that Jesus helped many people on a one-to-one basis. Matt. 16:29-31 tells of healing in a general sense.

>What do you think Jesus did to serve them, and for how long did he serve them?

* Mark 8:2 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat."

* This event was a three day conference. Jesus did everything at this conference; message, presider, life testimony servant; ect.

* "Since they had nothing to eat" -perhaps the crowds did not expect Jesus to be with them so long. In the Bible Jesus did not stay anywhere for very long. Also the crowd had little notice that he was going there. So this crowd was probably not prepared for this long of an event. Very early what little food supply they brought with them completely ran out.

>2. How did Jesus express his compassion?

* "Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said"-Jesus deliberately called his disciples to him. He meant to teach them.

* "I have compassion for" -He expressed his compassion to his disciples so that they would learn his compassion. Jesus wanted them involved again.

* "they have already been with me three days" -Jesus saw their faith. He respected them for the commitment they made, even though it was not as great as the disciples or himself. Still it was great faith for them.

* "they... have nothing to eat" -Jesus did not rebuke the people for not bringing enough food.

* "If I send them home hungry" -Jesus noticed that they had nothing left to eat. Jesus was like a mother who knew when a child last ate. Jesus understood they would not make it home on an empty stomach.

* "they will collapse on the way" -Jesus knew their situation. He knew they would collapse. He understood their sufferings. He understood there limit. Jesus is truly the great shepherd.

>What can we learn from verses 2 and 3 about the meaning of compassion?

* Be concerned with other people's situation and problem.

* Understand their situation and problem. Understand each person individually.

* Know how to serve them. Know what is best for them.

* Get involved practically to solve another's problem.

* Compassion-to show concern for another's suffering with intent and action to help them.

* Compassion comes from the love of God. Not just mechanics.

* Get involved practically to solve another's problem.

* Sympathy looks down at the other. Compassion sees the other on the same level.

* Jesus also didn't eat. He suffered with them. Yet he did not solve his problem first.

>3. Why did Jesus say what was on his heart (2,3) to his disciples?

* Mark 8:2-3 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance."

* Test, teach and train.

* Jesus' teaching in the feeding of the 5,000 emphases is having responsibility and faith. In the feeding of the 4,000 his emphasis is having a shepherd heart, faith, and remembering God's providence (of course that was later 14-21).

>How did they respond?

* Mark 8:4 "His disciples answered, 'But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?'"

* "remote place" -the eastern side of The Sea of Galilee, Gentile territory, was not as populated because the Jews settled on the west side.

* Why didn't the disciples remember the feeding of the five thousand? There was a great elapse of time and they had travelled a lot between then and now.

>What does this suggest about their spiritual condition?

* They could not relate to how God solved the last time.

* They weren't thinking of God's power and love to provide.

* How could the disciples forget so easily? It is sinful man's nature. Also from a superficial point of view; Remember the disciples usually provided for their own food problems out of their own means. Example: In Galilee, according to the law, they ate grain from the fields; In Sameria they bought the food, no law for eating from the fields; other times the women with them provided by any means they could find. Or they were invited to people's houses. Therefore because God did not always feed them as in the feeding of the 5,000 the disciples would not think of it right away if they had not meditated on it.

* The disciples spiritual condition (humanly speaking) was made even lower for they had just travelled a long hard distance (Galilee to Sidon to Gerasenes is a round trip of over 100 miles through mountains) and then had a three day conference with little food and sleep under the stars.

>In what respect had they made a little progress since the feeding the 5,000?

* They didn't say, "Send these people away..."

* They waited three days. At the feeding of 5,000 they cut the conference short.

* They were not so rebellious and sarcastic; so their attitude changed a little. Before they said, "Eight wages would not be enough."

* They are concerned for the people but they still didn't have the faith and shepherd heart of Jesus.

* They were willing to do something but didn't know how to best solve the problem.

>4. What did Jesus then ask them?

* Mark 8:5 "'How many loaves do you have?' Jesus asked."

* Very simple and clear question.

* Jesus did not directly answer their question. Indirectly he did. It was him.

* "do you have" -placed the solution to them. He was saying, "Do something." Of course that something was offer him something by faith.

>What did Jesus do with the bread and fish in 6:30-44 and 8:1-21?

* Mark 6:30-44 "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?" "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five--and two fish." Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand."

* In the feeding of the 5,000:
    1. Directed the disciples to have all the people sit down in small groups. (6:39)
    2. He gave thanks. (6:41)
    3. He broke the loaves. (6:41)
    4. He gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. (6:41)

* In the feeding of the 4,000:
    1. Gave thanks. (8:6)
    2. He told the crowd to sit down. (8:6)
    3. He broke the loaves. (8:6)
    4. He gave them to the disciples to set before the people. (8:6)

* The two miraculous feeding have little differences. Therefore, miracles can be done in different cases, at different times, and events. A miracle can be done over and over again if the principle is the same; faith in Jesus and have his shepherd heart.

* Jesus would tell the disciples later that they would rule over the twelve houses of Israel with him. (Luke 22:30) I believe the two miraculous feeding is a foreshaddow of how this will be done.

>How much was left over each time?

* The feeding of the 5,000: twelve. (6:43)

* The feeding of the 4,000: seven. (8:8)

>What was the significance of these two events?

* Jesus was revealed as the creator and bread of life.

* Jesus had compassion for the people.

* Jesus taught his disciples.

* Jesus taught the crowds.

* Abundance of God's grace.

>What should the disciples have learned through participating in those events?

* 1. shepherd's heart (compassion)
    2. faith in Jesus
    3. take responsibility

* The disciple's did know about faith and a shepherd's heart, but were taught it. So anyone can change if willing. Any country can change of his disciples live like this.

* These three things are important for being a disciple of Jesus.

>5. How and why did the Pharisees try to test Jesus?

* "he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha"-(could be Magadan, Magdala) look at map.

* Mark 8:11 "The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven."

>What does this show about the Pharisees?

* Because of their attitude we can say that they didn't recognize who Jesus was. And so they did not believe in Jesus.

* They were proud.

* They were self centered and self seeking.

* They were stubborn to believe and accept.

* They had no compassion and faith.

* "began to question Jesus" -In those days if someone began teaching without their standard credentials the Pharisees would ask them questions to discern their credibility. Of course Jesus had taught in their hearing before, but that wasn't enough for them.

* "To test him" -But the Pharisees who came to Jesus at this time was coming "to test him." They were doing more than seeing his credibility.

* "they asked him for a sign from heaven" -This was not the standard way to check someone's credentials. Not many people did miracles. They did not ask of a miracle from John The Baptist. Why did they ask for a sign? Jesus had done miracles and they knew it, some of them even saw the miracles. But they did not accept them. They wanted more.

* Note the progression of this exchange. Jesus must have answered their questions to their satisfaction. Jesus was patient with them, giving them plenty of time to make a decision. When they realised that Jesus' teaching was sound, they tried to find some other way to trap him.

* "asked for a sign" -This is the first time that anyone asked for a sign. All of Jesus' miracles before this event was done out of compassion because people had put their faith in him.

>Why did Jesus sigh deeply?

* "He sighed deeply"-Jesus had preformed many miracles but they did not accept them. They did not want to believe what God gave them already.

* Jesus' patience with them was amazing. He did not always respond like this to them. Earlier when they were waiting to see if he would heal on the Sabbath he asked them a questions that they would not answer. Then he was angry at their stubborn hearts, but healed to show them his authority.

* He sighed mainly because of their unbelief.

* They were stubborn immovable rocks.

* The essence of our faith in not trusting in our zeal or a "get up and go" spirit.

>Think of some modern sign-seekers.

* They might have already believed, experienced, but they look for something again later.

* Their faith does not come directly from the Bible, but from sensationalism.

* Charismatic. (speaking in tongues and miracles)

* Secular humanists.

* Evolutionists.

* Atheists.

* New Age followers.

* Those who believe in water baptism as did those who believed in circumcision in Paul's day.

* Sign seekers will never learn faith.

II. How Many Basketfuls of Pieces did you Pick Up? (14-21)

>6. What danger did Jesus see in the influence of the Pharisees and Herod?

* Pharisees-hypocrisy (they are the symbol of spiritual danger). They had hard hearts from the beginning. Their faith system was not dynamic, it was habitual. They had no learning heart and no repentance.

* Herod-political, easy life, materialist (They are the symbol of worldly danger). This life is a desire to become great and live a life of ease and pleasure seeking.

* The disciples didn't like Herod, but they did like his worldly power.

* To plant unbelief and scatter the flock.

* "Yeast" -a little will influence, good or bad, but usually bad. Unleavened bread in the Old Testament (Ex. 12:15-20; 23:15-18 34:18-25) is without yeast to symbolize having no sin.

* Matthew 16:12 explains, "Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

* "watch out" -In other words be careful. He means that although they believed and experienced Jesus' work now, they could change in the future.

>What warning did he give his disciples, and what did he mean?

* Mark 8:15 "'Be careful,' Jesus warned them. 'Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.'"

* This was gentle instructions.

* Jesus recognized their spiritual danger after the feeding of the 4,000.

>7. How did the disciples interpret Jesus' warning?

* Mark 8:14 "The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat."

* Mark 8:16 "They discussed this with one another and said, 'It is because we have no bread.'"

* This reveals their spiritual level.

>What was in their minds?

* Food, the world.

* The disciples were preoccupied with their bread problem, themselves. They little to eat in three days. Thus they spent little time thinking about the word of Jesus. Since none of the gospels record the questions and answers between Jesus and the Pharisees it could be argued that either the disciples weren't listening or they didn't understand the nature of the conversation.

>Why did they so completely misunderstood Jesus' words?

* They were spiritual weary after feeding of the 4,000.

* They had hard hearts because they minds were preoccupied.

* They had their eyes on the world.

* They forgot who Jesus was and what he had just done.

* When our minds are preoccupied are hearts become hard.

* They didn't consider the Pharisees problem as a problem and they didn't see themselves as every having Herod's problem.

* They always saw their personal human problems as their own fault. (16) We should get to the real problem not the wrong problem.

>8. How did Jesus rebuke them?

* Mark 17-21 "Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" "Twelve," they replied. "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, "Seven." He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"

>What was their spiritual problem?

* They didn't consider the Pharisees danger and thought that they would never be like Herod.

* They didn't remember and didn't learn from their experiences.

* People are forgetful (i.e. after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and the Lord came down Mt. Sinai is fire, smoke, and thunder they forgot and built a golden calf to worship as God.)

>9. What was the simple arithmetic test Jesus gave his disciples?

* Mark 8:19-21 "When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" "Twelve," they replied. "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, "Seven." He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"

>What was the purpose of it?

* To see how God had provided in the past.

* Review God's history.

* God's history-how God worked.

* Tangible evidence.

>What did he want them to remember?

* God's blessing in the past.

* God's grace.

* How God worked.

>Why is a sense of history so important?

* So we don't worry about ourselves.

* So we can serve others freely.

* When we face new problems in the world we remember Jesus so we gain strength. We shouldn't have to keep learning the same things.

>How can I have a sense of history?

* Write a life testimony.

* Write weekly testimonies.

* Write good daily breads.

* In doing these three I should review and ponder God's grace.