Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Mark 8:1-10

If the religious leaders of Israel had no part of God’s kingdom, then who did? Who was the kingdom for? Who was going to have a place in God’s kingdom? In chapters 7 and 8 Mark follows the incident of conflict with the Pharisees with a trilogy of events that is meant to answer these questions. Jesus leaves Galilee and goes into the regions of the Gentiles and performs wonderful miracles and reveals the kingdom of God to the Gentiles

In 8:1-10 we come to the third account in Mark’s trilogy in which Jesus blesses the Gentiles. While he is still in the Decapolis, Jesus repeats his miracle of the feeding of the thousands. This time Mark says there were four thousand men present instead of five thousand. This time there were seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. But all the other details of this account are almost exactly the same as those of the feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6. The radical similarities have caused some scholars to conclude that somehow this story has been accidentally repeated. Some critics point to the repetition as evidence that the Bible has serious mistakes and flaws. But I believe that Jesus intentionally repeated his miracle almost exactly on purpose! I think there are some very important things he wanted to teach his disciples and those of us who would read these accounts thousands of years later.

The miraculous feeding of the thousands was meant to remind the people of God’s feeding of his people in the wilderness under Moses. It was a demonstration of the fact that Jesus was the Messiah and that he was the Son of God. It revealed the power and the character of the kingdom of God on earth. It was Jesus’ invitation to people to come to him and receive the bread of life. The huge difference between the first miraculous feeding and this one is found in those who received food! This time Jesus fed thousands of Gentiles! This time he went to the people who were rejected by the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and offered them the bread of life! The kingdom of God was meant for all people! None were to be excluded! And the fact that the disciples gathered up seven basketsful of bread showed that there would be plenty for all. God’s grace and mercy are not limited in any way!

The Pharisees hated Jesus. They rejected the very thought that he might be the Messiah, the Son of God. They were trying to find a way to kill him! They were concerned about keeping themselves ceremonially clean, as if that would result in true righteousness which would put them in good standing with God. They believed the kingdom belonged to them and they would be the leaders of it! Jesus makes a point by going to the Gentiles. He blesses a Canaanite woman in Tyre, a deaf-mute in the Decapolis, and caps it off with the feeding of thousands in the Decapolis. Isn’t the message crystal clear? The gospel is for everyone! All who come to Christ and cry out to him in faith and humility will be met with love, healing, and forgiveness! This is the good news of the kingdom of heaven!


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