From the March 5th reading of our devotional Bible:
And they had forgotten to take bread; and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? HAVING EYES, DO YOU NOT SEE? AND HAVING EARS, DO YOU NOT HEAR? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “And when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:14-21, NASB)
This is a very intriguing event in the lives of the disciples. Matthew reveals the topic of understanding in chapter 16 of his gospel, while Mark leaves it to the reader to contemplate an answer to Jesus question. Mark also adds the detail that the disciples had no more than one loaf of bread in the boat, a fact which Matthew leaves out. This knowledge adds an extra dimension to the story, especially if one is left to decipher an explanation as to the meaning behind the words of our Lord.
These men had seen amazing things from the hand of Jesus! He reminds them to reflect on the previous feeding miracles of which they had been a part. He specifically calls attention to the over-abundance of the leftovers after all had eaten and been satisfied. On both occasions, from such meager and humble means, Jesus had wrought great provisions on behalf of massive crowds of people. This causes the reader, especially here in Mark, to reflect on the reality that if Jesus had done so much with so little in the past, could He not have provided abundantly for the disciples from one loaf? The answer, of course, is a resounding, “…without question!” The lesson in all of this was Jesus concern for the spiritual diet of His followers; that they should not be led astray by the harmful ingredients contained in the teaching of men whose religion served only to elevate themselves. The disciples could not see beyond the moment of their own personal self-preservation; be it their pride or hunger, they failed to discern Christ’s deeper lesson. This was unfortunate because when one cannot trust the Master in the small, everyday aspects of life, such as simple needs being met; how could the more weighty matters of existence be comprehended?
“Do you not yet understand?” is a question you and I face every day. David reminded us, “I have been young, and now I am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Or his descendants begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25, NASB) When we are truly about our Father’s business; when we have ears to hear and eyes to see; faith looks beyond circumstance for provision; enabling us, those who are His followers, to remain vigilant and engaged in the mission set before us. This requires losing oneself in Christ for the true discovery of finding oneself in Christ (Matt. 10:39); crucial, lest we sell our inheritance, as did Esau (Gen. 25:31-34), for our own sin-guided self-interest; for our own “in-the-moment” perceived need, casting our pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6).
The words of the old hymn ring true regarding our lesson this day:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.