Mark 8:1-10

BRIEF INTRO: This account from Mark is similar to another that he wrote about in Chapter 6 (vv.34-44). Similar but very different incidents in the life of Jesus and the disciples! The storyline is much the same; the outcome too. So, what does this account offer to help us see Jesus more clearly? What can we glean from this that will challenge us in our walk of faith? Let’s get into it!

“In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus summoned His disciples and *said to them, 2 “I feel compassion for the [a]people because they have remained with Me for three days already and have nothing to eat. 3 And 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.”

FOCUS ONE: The compassion of Jesus

In those days, Jesus was becoming more popular. The “multitudes” followed Him wherever He went. His preaching and teaching amazed them. His miracles astonished them. Who wouldn’t want to be around this guy? The problem that arises again (cr. 6:34-44) is that the people do not want to leave Jesus. This time they “remained” with Him for three days and had run out of food. 

Mark opens our eyes again to the compassion of Jesus. He was concerned for their welfare. He knew they were with Him for three days listening to His teaching. He knew they had nothing to eat and wanted to care for them! The fact that they stayed with Him so long and would pass out from hunger while traveling to their homes for food affected Him. 

Jesus called the disciples to His side and explained to them the situation. Sadly, we will observe in the following focus point that they still are slow to comprehend who Jesus is and what He is capable of.

4 And His disciples replied to Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough [a]bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 5 And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.”

FOCUS TWO: The disciple’s hardness of heart 

If we were not astonished at Mark’s statement about the disciples after He walked on water, we ought to be now. Mark told us that “they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (6:52). It seems hard to believe that people can experience Christ firsthand and miss the undiluted testimony to His divinity that He expressed. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we are not beyond the scope of irrationality we witness here. How long did Jesus pursue you? How many amazing things did He do in your life and those around you to get you to understand who He was? How long did it take you to get it?

Did you observe that I placed the word “anyone” in the scripture above in bold print? Why would I do that? Because that word indeed says it all, at least in regards to where they are at in their understanding. The man (God/man) is standing beside you; He already did this exact thing before, WITH FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE, and you participated in it, and now He wants to do it again, and you look right past Him! Anyone? 

Mark wants His readers to understand that Jesus is compassionate. He also wants to point out the irrationality of unbelief. That is what we are witnessing with the disciples, what a stark contrast is seen here between the disciples and the multitudes. They walked with Jesus since He called them unto Himself. They experienced firsthand His authoritative teaching and astonishing miracles. They even did many miracles with the power and authority He gave them (6:7-13). And yet they fail to recognize His ability to feed these people!

The multitudes, on the other hand, are not panicked. They heard about what He was doing in different places and had enough confidence that He could do it again.

6 And He *directed the [a]people to recline on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve, and they served them to the [b]people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He told the disciples to serve these as well. 8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9 About four thousand [c]men were there; and He dismissed them.

FOCUS THREE: Christ’s deity displayed 

Upon the disciple’s inability to recognize who could feed these people, Jesus asks them, “how many loaves do you have.” Jesus, just like we saw in feeding the five thousand, blesses the fish and loaves and provides four thousand plus people! Take notice that all the people “ate and were satisfied.” So, in this situation, they didn’t have to walk through the crowds searching for food. 

You might think that this miracle is insignificant and wonder why Mark would even bother writing about it since the feeding of the five thousand is much grander in scale than this feeding of only four thousand. That would be a wrong conclusion. First, the repeat of such a miracle reinforces the power and authority Jesus has among men. Second, it forces people to answer the question: Who do you say I am?” 

One other interesting fact must be observed. The Greek word for basket used in this account is not a tiny basket that could easily be carried about. This word is referencing a basket that could fit a man into it! The basket in the account of the five thousand is smaller. So, even though they only picked up seven baskets full (unlike the 12 baskets in Mark 6), they possibly picked up as much OR more than the last time!

Below is a comparison of the two events mentioned throughout this post: If you take the time to study the comparison, you will notice differences.

The feeding of the 5000

Desolate place

Disciples want to send the crowd away to find food

Jesus responds you give them something to eat

They search out and find five loaves and two fish

Jesus commands them to recline in groups on the green grass (hundreds, fifties)

He looked toward heaven and blessed the food

Broke the loaves and kept giving them to the disciples 

All ate and were satisfied

12 baskets full of all remained

He commands disciples to leave in the boat and then dismisses the crowd

The feeding of the 4000

A great multitude was with Jesus for 3 days

He feels compassion for them because they have no food

Jesus does not want to send them away hungry, worried about fainting from hunger along the way

Disciple question as to where “anyone” would be able to find enough food to satisfy so many people

Jesus asks how many loaves they have (they instantly know this) 7 and a few small fish

Jesus direct the multitudes to sit down on the ground

He took the loaves and gave thanks and broke them and gave them to His disciples to serve

The bread is served first, fish later (v.7)

They ate and were satisfied

Seven baskets full were left over of the broken pieces

They were fed and sent away

And then disciples with Jesus get into the boat and leave

My point? Simply put, these are two very different settings, with different particulars that signify to us that these are eyewitness accounts and NOT some allegory we need to decipher. The redundancy is intentional on Mark’s part and allows the readers to gain greater insight into who Jesus is!


Mark 3: 1-6

BRIEF INTRO: In this chapter, we witness a continuation of Christ’s healing power and authority. Christ’s popularity is on the rise, while His ability to have “alone time” is greatly hindered due to the multitude’s continuous presence. This chapter begins with the Pharisees “watching” Him to see if He would heal on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him. It ends with His brethren and family members believing that He is out of His mind, and so they attempt to remove Him from the people to a “safe space!”

Sandwiched in the middle of all that, Mark tells us about Jesus appointing the twelve to apostleship and their purpose OR function.

He entered a synagogue again; and a man was there whose hand was withered. And they were watching Him [a]closely to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He *said to the man with the withered hand, “[b]Get up and come forward!” And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately began [c]conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might put Him to death.

FOCUS ONE: Pharisees are watching

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day. They sat on “Moses seat,” which means that they had the highest authority to instruct people in the law. But they “*had gone beyond the any legitimate authority and were adding human tradition to the Word of God” (Matthew 15:3-9) and constantly opposed Him, for that Jesus condemned them.

The Pharisees are often exposed for this very thing elsewhere in scripture (Mark 10:2-12; Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 19:3-12; John 7:43-49; John 8). These examples must suffice for now, but these few samples prove that they always tested, challenged, and opposed the Lord.

On this particular day, we read that they are watching. They stood aloof of the people in the synagogue, just observing all that was transpiring. They were not innocent bystanders by any means. Instead, they were purposely, thoughtfully, and maliciously waiting for Jesus to do something that they could accuse of before the authorities. In this case, they waited to see if “He would heal on the sabbath” (3:2).

 He *said to the man with the withered hand, “[b]Get up and come forward!” And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

FOCUS TWO: Jesus challenges the Pharisees

The tension grows! Jesus sees the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. The man’s deformity was likely a “*form of paralysis or deformity from an accident, a disease, or congenital defect.” He tells the man to “rise and come forward.” Jesus sees the man; He knows the Pharisees are watching and why, and He calls this disabled man forward anyway! Obviously, Jesus has a higher purpose for what He is about to do. A good and righteous purpose, unlike the Pharisees.

The man appears to obey Jesus’ command to come forward. I can picture this man in front of Jesus, perhaps a bit nervous, as Jesus asks the Pharisees this question. “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or evil, to save life or to kill?” this rhetorical question “1destroys their argument by forcing a logical conclusion: Would your interpretation of the law ever demand you to destroy life or do evil? No answer.” Matthew records Jesus using a sheep analogy to help them understand and form a correct conclusion (Matthew 12:11-12).

This question elevates the issue from a legal to a moral problem. “* Jesus was forcing the Pharisees to examine their tradition regarding the Sabbath to see if it  was consistent with God’s Old Testament law.” The clear understanding would be that any failure to do good or save a life was wrong and would not be in obedience to God’s original intention for the sabbath observance. 

The Pharisee’s silence showed their refusal to answer the question, and in not doing so, the implication was that their views of the OT law were false!

Jesus becomes angry, grieved at their hardness of heart. Does that statement trouble you (3:5)? The Greek word for “anger” is (Orge). 2It means to desire eagerly or earnestly; Wrath, anger as a state of mind. It is used in the anarthrous, which means that there is NO definite article in the original, and it is a noun, not a verb in this usage.

Jesus certainly had displeasure at their hardness of heart and unwillingness to repent. BUT His reaction was consistent with His divine nature, not outside it. His anger is ALWAYS consistent with His holiness! Christ’s righteous indignation, expressed at times throughout our bibles, is always in total alignment with His divine character and nature. Unlike our anger.

But don’t miss the “other side of the coin” here. The Pharisees hardened hearts grieved the Lord. It weighed on Him, causing sorrow within Himself at such willful stubbornness. I have grieved myself when I think of how my willful sinfulness, stubbornness at times, or callousness affects my Father, Redeemer, and sustainer. BUT I am thankful that His mercy is new each day (Lamentations 3:22-24).

FOCUS THREE: Jesus heals the man

Jesus took a moment and looked around at these men, allowing them to respond to His question. They don’t, so He tells the man to “stretch out your hand.” He does, and it is healed! 

In some instances, Jesus touches those He heals; in others, He speaks, and they are healed. That is what we read here. This man experienced complete and perfect restoration of his withered hand by the words of Jesus! Everybody in the synagogue witnessed it. They all knew the situation of this man. They knew what his arm was like before that day and what it is like now. 

We are not told how they responded. We can only imagine. BUT we are told how the Pharisees responded (v.6). They immediately leave the synagogue and begin plotting to “destroy” Jesus. With their minds already made up, they join forces with the “Herodians” (v. 6). This group is said to be much smaller than the Pharisees and “tended toward political opportunism.” To them, Jesus would have been a threat to their status quo of the Roman rule, which was a big plus for them.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This ancient proverb is what we see being put into practice by these two groups. “The Herodians opposed the Pharisees on nearly every issue, but were willing to join forces with them because they both wanted desperately to destroy Jesus.” All the gospels record their intent (Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 6:6-10; John 11:53).

After the Pharisees left the synagogue, Jesus moved on to the sea with His disciples. Despite the frequent confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus’ popularity grew so much that we read in verses seven and eight that “multitudes” came from all parts of Palestine to see and hear Him for themselves!

*Macarthur Study Bible pg. 1463

1 Liberty Bible Commentary pg. 1972

2 The complete Word Study NT, pg. 941


Photo from Freely Photos

Long reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

Quoted verse: 1 Thessalonians 2:13

“And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (NASB).

The Open Air Campaigners have an evangelistic ministry that has at its core the burden of preaching the gospel to lost people anywhere and mobilizing the body of Christ to do the same. I had the pleasure of learning from these men, many years ago, the skills that were needed to do well in open air evangelism. Using a sketch-board, painting a gospel message, rope tricks and other illustrations; as well as spiritual discipline, faithful study of God’s word, earnest prayer, teamwork, and compassion for the lost. But there is one thing that I learned from them that has affected my gospel witness more than anything else, and that is this: God working through His word performs His will in those who hear and believe!

You and I cannot save anyone. Our flattering speeches, or supposed superiority with words; our perceived wisdom or persuasive rhetoric, never did and never will save anyone. God uses people to proclaim His word, this is true, but He uses weak people led by His Spirit, so that when He opens up minds and hearts to His truth’s, it will always be a demonstration of the working of His Holy Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)!

This truth should be encouraging and reassuring to God’s people. Just as the word of the Lord sounded forth from these believers in every place they went (1 Thessalonians 1:8), so too it should from us. You and I can faithfully share the gospel of God with others (vs 9), confident that He will do what He will in those peoples lives that have heard the truth from us. This means that you and I can share the gospel and then go home and sleep in peace. If people are to come to faith in Christ, such faith cannot rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God!

                                                                                                                                    Larry Stump Jr.  

Daily prayer: Help us O God, to trust in your Spirit and power in the salvation of the lost. Grant to us thy peace which surpasses all understanding as we pray and seek to win souls for Christ. Amen.