Mark 8 contains the story of Jesus feeding the 4000 and then the confrontation with the Pharisees that just want to argue with Him. “The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him”. They were looking for ammunition to use against Jesus, and He wasn’t falling for it. They absolutely were not interested in believing in or following Him, but rather setting Him up. Jesus “sighed deeply in His spirit”. I love how Mark captures His response. It appears that Jesus was very frustrated with the religious leaders – they just weren’t getting it – but He didn’t show His frustration with them as He sighed deeply in His spirit. We can learn from that. I tend to sigh deeply, but do it publicly when I am a bit annoyed. I think Jesus gives us a much better example here – sighing to let out His frustration but keeping that to Himself rather than broadcasting it to the world. When we sign visibly – it really puts people off – like they are an inconvenience or problem. That isn’t the intended message often, but since that is how it is perceived – well perception becomes reality in their minds. Jesus makes it clear that “no sign will be given to this generation”. Why was that? Probably any number of reasons could apply – but a couple come to mind. He was there with them – Jesus incarnate in the flesh – what sign could be bigger than that. This group of religious leaders was not really looking. They were trying to protect their turf and take care of the power they had acquired. A sign would have been wasted on them anyway. Whatever the reason, Jesus just warns the disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” and moves on.
Since the twelve were struggling with a lack of bread – Jesus gets irritated with them. They had recently seen Him feed two large groups with little resources, but now they need a little to eat themselves and are in a tizzy. Jesus asks them four tough questions:
- “Having eyes do you not see
- Having ears do you not hear
- Do you not remember
- Do you not yet understand”
C’mon boys. You have been walking with Me and seen Me feed thousands, yet you are wondering how I might provide for you? Do you ever fall into that trap of thinking Jesus is a miracle worker but somehow it doesn’t apply to my life. That is just plain wrong. He is a miracle worker exactly in your life. He is all about being involved personally with you and me. Jesus is in the business of setting us free from the chains of sin, changing our life to one focused on walking with God, and making a difference when we call out to Him. He wants us to think differently. Mark records the interaction between Peter and Jesus about faith and who Jesus was. When Peter rebukes the Lord, it is pointed out that “you are not setting your mind of things of God, but on the things of man”. A little priority problem for Peter. The world tends to get in the way of faith way too often. Jesus makes it clear how we are to live. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”. It is about priorities. It is about making our walk the most important thing. Jim Elliot, the missionary who was killed as he lived among an unreached people group, said it this way: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Are you living life for Jesus? He makes it clear that is what the bar is. He went on to say it this way “whoever is ashamed of me and of my words…..of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed”. Is Jesus ashamed of you because you are unwilling to let people know you are a Christ Follower? Do people know, really know, that He is your Savior and Lord? Or do you keep it quiet, under the radar, so no one is offended and you don’t have to defend your faith. Jesus expects us to live for Him – openly and completely – without fear of others. He is to be the priority of our life. He is to be our Lord. Are you living like that?