The Feeding of the Four Thousand
1 In those days there was another large crowd with nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will faint on the way, and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples answered him, “Where can someone get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” 6 Then he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. After he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples to serve. So they served the crowd. 7 They also had a few small fish. After giving thanks for these, he told them to serve these as well. 8 Everyone ate and was satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 There were about four thousand who ate. Then he dismissed them. 10 Immediately he got into a boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
The Demand for a Sign
11 Then the Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, asking for a sign from heaven to test him. 12 Sighing deeply in his spirit he said, “Why does this generation look for a sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat, and went to the other side.
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
14 Now they had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 And Jesus ordered them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” 16 So they began to discuss with one another about having no bread. 17 When he learned of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Have your hearts been hardened? 18 Though you have eyes, don’t you see? And though you have ears, can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
A Two-stage Healing
22 Then they came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to Jesus and asked him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and brought him outside of the village. Then he spit on his eyes, placed his hands on his eyes and asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 Regaining his sight he said, “I see people, but they look like trees walking.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. And he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
27 Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They said, “John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
First Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
31 Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke openly about this. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”
34 Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. 36 For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? 37 What can a person give in exchange for his life? 38 For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
C H Spurgeon
Mark 8:1-4. In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness.
Why did they not ask their Master what he could do in such an emergency as that” After so much experience of his power as they had already had, it is wonderful that they did not refer the matter to him, and say, “Lord, thou canst feed the multitude; we beseech thee do it.” But they did not act so wisely; instead, they began questioning about ways and means. “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?”
Mark 8:5-9. And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
Christ is the great Master of the art of multiplication. However small is the stock with which we begin, we have only to dedicate it all to him, and he will multiply and increase it until it will go far beyond our utmost expectations, and there will be more left after the feast is over than there was before it began. Bring your small talents, bring the little grace you have, to Christ, for he can so increase your store that you will never know any lack, but shall have all the greater abundance the greater the demand that is made upon that store. Had these four thousand people not been miraculously fed by Christ, the seven loaves and the few small fishes would have remained just as they were; but now that the four thousand have to be fed, the loaves and fishes are multiplied by Christ in a very extraordinary manner, so that, in the end, there is far more provision than they had at the beginning. Expect, beloved, to be enriched by your losses, to grow by that which looks as if it would crush you, and to become greater by that which threatens to annihilate you. Only put yourself into Christ’s hands, and he will make good use of you, and leave you better than you were before he used you as the means of helping and blessing others.
Mark 8:10-12. And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
Unbelief always pricked him to the heart, and greatly grieved him. When men trusted him, he delighted to exhibit his matchless grace; but when they cavilled and questioned, his heart was heavy, and he turned away from them.
Mark 8:13. And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.
But, alas! even on board that little ship there was unbelief; and from the small and select circle of his own disciples he had fresh reason for sorrow from the same cause.
Mark 8:14-21. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
Can we not learn from past experience? If the Lord has helped us before, is he not equally ready to help us again? What! when there are only a few of you disciples on board ship, do you begin to distrust your Lord because you have only one loaf, when he found enough food for five thousand and for four thousand out of a few scanty loaves? O ye unbelieving children of God, what infinite patience your gracious God has with you, though you so often and so shamefully doubt him! “Do ye not remember?” “How is it that ye do not understand?” Can it be that all your Lord’s lessons of love and deeds of kindness have taught you nothing? Do you still doubt him,-still distrust him? Has he delivered you in six troubles, and can you not trust him in the seventh? Has he kept you, by his grace, till you are seventy years of age, and can you not trust him for the few remaining years of your earthly pilgrimage? Oh, shame upon us that we are such dull scholars in the school of Christ!
Mark 8:22-26. And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
“Your house is outside Bethsaida, so go round-about, and get home without going into the town; and if any of your neighbors call to see you, say nothing about me to them, for I wish to remain concealed for the present.”
Mark 8:27. And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
It was Christ’s usual way, when he took a walk with his disciples, to beguile the time with holy conversation. It would be well if we always did the same. We might do much good, and we might get much good, if we made our Lord Jesus the theme of our talks “by the way.” It was an important question that he put to his disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?”
Mark 8:28-29. And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
“That is the main point. It matters little to you what other men say about me;-whether they are right, or wrong, may not concern you; but what is your own opinion? What do you know about me? ‘Whom say ye that I am?’”
Mark 8:29. And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
“Thou art the Messiah.” We know, from Matthew’s Gospel, that it was this confession of which our Lord said to Peter, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona,” son of Jonas:-“for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Mark 8:30. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
He wished, at that time, to remain in comparative retirement; he was not anxious that his miracles should be blazoned abroad. By-and-by, he was to die; and he preferred to derive his fame from his death rather than from his life, and to gather his honours from his cross rather than from his miracles.
He never bade any man to be silent about his death on the cross; but when honour was likely to come to him among men from his miracles, he frequently “charged them that they should tell no man of him.” That restriction is no longer in force; it was entirely abrogated after our Lord’s resurrection, when he said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”