Day Thirty-One with Mark: Mark 8:1-10

Today in Mark 8:1-10 we see Jesus feed another multitude.  Earlier in Mark He fed the 5000.  Today, He feeds the 4000:

Feeding the Four Thousand
8 In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

NT Ch15Ok, so why does Jesus feed large crowds twice?  Not to be trite, but the simple answer is that Jesus loved people, and this is at least twice in His ministry when large crowds were with Him, and He knew that if He was to send them away without food they may not make it home.  So, why did Jesus do this twice?  The simple reason is because people needed it twice.

But there is something deeper and bigger going on here, as there is with almost all that happens in the Bible. There are two things that jump out to me in this reading that I think are significant.  First, look at the “faith” of the Disciples.  Remember, they had already seen Jesus feed an even larger crowd before. But when He says that the people must be fed, they say, how can we feed this many people here in the desert?

They’d seen Jesus do it before.  They knew that He could do it, they saw it with their own eyes, the experienced it, they helped.  And yet, they still doubted.

Aren’t we like that?  Don’t we know what God can do?  Haven’t we seen Him do it before?  Aren’t we aware of His power?  Yes.  Yes we are.  And yet, don’t we doubt, as they did?  Don’t we forget, as they did?  They did.  And we do.

On one hand, we need to learn, as they did, to have faith, to not doubt, to remember the faithfulness of God.  Remember how He has been there.  Remember what He has done.  Remember who He is. Remember His faithfulness from generation to generation.

But when we do, we need to show ourselves grace as well. Because we weren’t the first to doubt.  The very ones that walked with Jesus doubted as well.  And He didn’t give up on them. And He won’t give up on us either.

Second, many scholars believe that the first feeding of the multitude (the 5000) was a Jewish crowd, and many think that this crowd, if not mainly Gentile, had many Gentiles within it.  This was on the western side of the Sea of Galilee, which was the more Gentile area.  We cannot say for 100% certain that there were Gentile there, but reading into the context of scripture, it’s a safe assumption.

So, we have seen Him heal Gentiles.  Now we see Him feed Gentiles. We are seeing more and more that Jesus Christ came to redeem the world. All the world.  All that call upon His name.  All

And in a world that is so, so, so very polarized and full of hardening lines, I think it’s important for us to remember that Jesus Christ came for the world.  The entire world. For all who believe.

Today, may we live out that grace with all that we meet.

Friday we’ll look at Mark 8:11-12.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Doubt and Faith

To have faith means that you are unflinching, right?  No doubts, no worries, none of that.

That’s what we think. That’s what we feel like we have to believe.  If I’m a believer, I can’t have any doubts, any of those things.  That’s what we make ourselves believe, or feel like we have to believe.

Today in our reading, we read one of my favorite prayers in the Bible.  Listen to what happens in Mark 9: 21-24:

21 Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

doubtThe father of a child came to Jesus, knowing that Jesus could help.  And Jesus said all things are possible when you believe.  And look what that father says – I believe.  Help my unbelief.

We would read later in the text that Jesus does just that.  He heals the child.  He brings life back to this family.

Faith is not the lack of doubt.  Faith is believing more than our doubt.  Because faith is a jumping off of a cliff.  Faith is coming to the edge, walking off of it, and trusting God to catch us.

Even when we know that He will, we can believe that, we can have that faith. But in the back of our minds we can still wonder.  What if.  What if He doesn’t catch.  What if  it goes wrong.  What if.

Faith is this.  Haven’t those thoughts and time. Having those worries. Having all that. And still jumping.

Because we may worry and we may have those voices trying to get us not to do it.  But faith says this.  God is bigger.

And He will be there.  Even if I doubt.  Because my doubts don’t negate the truth.  Faith is sometimes an act of will.  Faith says, I choose to believe this, even if I doubt. Because I know it’s true.  I know it is.  I believe.  Help my unbelief.

And what did Jesus do?  Just that.

Today, believe the truth, even if you doubt it. Because it is true.  Hold on, hold fast, and hope. God is good, even when we doubt.  May we have the will and the grace to believe.  Even when we doubt.  May God increase our faith.  Today, and always.

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Fighting a Losing Battle?

sisyphus-drawingYou ever feel like you are fighting a losing battle?  Ever feel like you’ve got a task that you just can’t get done, dealing with something that you just can’t get right, working with something that you just can’t change?

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. We’ve all been in a battle that we just can’t feel like we can win.  We’ve all felt that frustration, that anger, that doubt, that pressure, that worry.  One of my favorite characters in Greek mythology is Sisyphus.  If you’re not familiar with his story, basically he was punished for all eternity by having to push a boulder up a mountain, only to have it roll back down up on him. And he had to do that for all eternity.

Sometimes we feel like that, don’t we?  Sometimes we just feel like things won’t change and we can’t win.  Listen to what happens to Ezekiel today in Ezekiel 2: 4-7:

4 The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” 5 Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them. 6 And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of them, and do not be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns surround you and you live among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 7 You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house.

God sends Ezekiel to preach to the Israelites. And He says this.  They may not listen. They are rebellious. They are hard-headed. They may not listen to a word you say.

But you say it anyway. Because your job is not to change them.  Your job is to preach that word.

What a word for us today!  Your job is not to win that battle.  It’s not.  Your job is to be faithful. That’s your job today.  It’s God’s call if the battle is won or lost.  You can’t in the end control that.  You can’t control them.  You can’t control the situation.  You can’t control any of that.

All you can control is yourself.  That’s it.

So, our job is not to worry about the things that we can’t control.  Our job is to worry about what we can control. That’s ourselves. That’s our response.  That’s our faithfulness. That’s our effort.  That’s us.  That’s all we can do.

So, today, be faithful.  Even if it’s a battle that you don’t think you can win. Be faithful. The battle is Lord’s.  He will take care of what happens in the end.  Today, though, for you and for me, let’s be faithful.  Let’s be obedient. Let’s do what God wants us to do.

And the rest is up to Him. Don’t worry.  Don’t fear.  Don’t doubt.  Be faithful.  That’s our main duty!

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Doubting and Remembering

Today’s reading is one that we have heard preached from many, many times.  It’s the Great Commission, Jesus’ command to the Disciples and to His church to go out and make disciples of all nations.

Today, listen to what He says to them, and see if some of the same things pop out to you today that popped out to me.  Listen to Matthew 28: 16-20:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

_bibleYou know what one of the first things I saw was?  This – they worshiped Him, but some doubted.  Ok, let’s think about who these “some” where. They were the Disciples. The very ones that had walked with Him, that had seen so very much, and were looking at Him, the resurrected Christ, in their midst.

They were also the very ones that Jesus was going to deploy into mission. They were going to be big, huge, things for Him.

And with all that, some of them still doubted, at that moment.

Just because you have doubts, or struggles, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t seen God, that you don’t know God, or that God won’t use you.  Doubt is often a part of faith; we struggle, we believe, we grow.

You never grow if it’s always easy.  Sometimes you have to go through the tough times before you can really grow. They doubted.  Jesus was going to use them in a huge way in a matter or days.

Today, if you doubt, hold onto Jesus even more tightly. He won’t let go of you. He won’t.  Hold on.

And one last thing, Jesus said this, Remember,  I am with you, even to the end of the age.  He told them to remember He was with them. Because at times, they may forget.  Don’t. Don’t forget.  Hold on.  Hold on tight to Him.

And remember.  Remember He is with us, always.  Always.   Don’t forget that.  You’ll be tempted to forget.  Remember even more deeply.

He will never leave or forsake, even when we struggle.  Because He loves us.  Never forget.

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