The Growth of the Disciples

Posted by on 10/08/2018 in:

In Mark 8, we see huge growth for the disciples. They go from worrying about where they will get their next meal to proclaiming that Jesus is God. If you read quickly through the chapter, you may not think critically about all the changes that take place. But, with a Bible like the ESV Story of Redemption Bible, you’ll get easy-to-read commentary that shows you the ebb and flow of the story.

Be guided through the story and transformation that happens in Mark 8 with the ESV Story of Redemption Bible below.

JESUS FEEDS THE FOUR THOUSAND

Just as he fed a multitude in Jewish lands, Jesus now does exactly the same thing here in Gentile lands. The symbolism again is rich: the resources and bounty of the kingdom are limitless and are not only for Jews but also—just as God had promised Abraham—for all the families of the nations.

MARK 8:1-10

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

Seven,” they replied.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied.

Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

THE PHARISEES DEMAND A SIGN

Meanwhile, the Pharisees continue in their hardhearted judgment of Jesus, and he continues to thunder down condemnation on their stubbornness.

MARK 8:11-13

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

THE LEAVEN OF PHARISEES AND HEROD

The theme of the disciples’ spiritual dullness reaches a new height here, and Jesus seems genuinely exasperated. Even after seeing him feed nine thousand people on a lunchbox’s worth of food, they are worried about where they are going to find bread. Even worse, when Jesus makes a spiritual lesson of the situation, they are completely dim to it.

MARK 8:14-21

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 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 did you take up?”

They said to him, “Twelve.”

“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”

And they said to him, “Seven.”

And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

If it were not for the next story, we might be tempted to despair entirely of the disciples’ ever getting it.

JESUS HEALS A BLIND MAN AT BETHSAIDA

The two-stage healing of this blind man is not an instance of Jesus making a mistake (as if he failed at first to heal the man). Rather, it is an enacted parable of the disciples (especially Peters) coming to see and understand Jesus.

MARK 8:22-26

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”

And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

PETER CONFESSES JESUS AS THE CHRIST

Peter’s understanding of Jesus’ identity is real but still blurry. He understands that Jesus is the Christ (that is, the King); he even understands, as Matthew tells us, that Jesus is the divine Son of God.

MARK 8:27-30

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

JESUS FORETELLS HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION

But he does not yet understand that being the Christ necessarily entails dying. Even more, he does not yet understand that following the Christ will mean following him even to death.

MARK 8:31-33

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

This is the meaning of Jesus’ phrase here that a disciple must “take up his cross” (8:34). He is not referring to a regrettable circumstance in one’s life or even to sickness or hardship. He is promising that the world will always be intractably, furiously, and even lethally opposed to Christians—precisely because it is opposed to Christ the Lord.

MARK 8:34-38

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Now, though, a small group of the disciples is about to witness the greatest revelation of Jesus’ glory so far.

LEARN MORE

The Bible is the epic story of the unfolding plan of God over the course of the history of the world. The Story of Redemption Bible: A Journey through the Unfolding Promises of God leads readers on a journey through this storyline from start to finish, with conversational commentary written by Pastor Greg Gilbert.

Visit our website to learn more about this resource.

Olive Tree Bible App iOS

Olive Tree Bible App Android

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *