Mark 8 Reflection by Anne H
Firstly in this passage (Mark 8:1-13) we read about a miracle when Jesus feeds four thousand people with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. This sets the context for the next section of the passage where Jesus is with some confused disciples. There’s lots of people and a few Pharisees, lots of bread and a warning about yeast from the wrong sources. I’ve always avoided this yeast discussion before (after all, if the disciples didn’t understand, how can I?)!! But here we go, briefly.
Jesus draws the disciples’ attention to both of his multitude-feeding miracles, the one we’ve just read, and the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44). He highlights how much left-over food there was at both of these events, suggesting they don’t ned to worry about their access to food. Instead, is he saying that with the right yeast (or input- Jesus), multitudes receive the life-giving help they need, and they’ll even be a surplus?! Jesus contrasts this to the Pharisees, a group of Jewish leaders who were trying to understand and teach the law. He points to their hearts and their self-centred, arrogant attitude which locks in anything they know of God, so it does not bring the fragrant knowledge of God to those they mix with. The irony is that this was that the Pharisee’s knowledge of God was supposed to bring the people life as they shared it, being keepers and a practisers of the truth.
We can laugh at this, before we stop and ask ourselves how we are doing with our own primary calling, are we spreading the yeast of Jesus or the Pharisees? It’s by God’s grace we’re his and Jesus’ disciples. How are we doing in holding onto our faith with humility alongside our confidence in God? What do we each bring to the groups we mix in? Is it always the light and life of God? And what about Herod’s yeast, looking for security in money, possessions or power? We’ll influence others by what we value – let’s bring the life of God, generously. Maybe we could ask the young people we know what they see as being valued by different people, including us?
Mark 8: 27- 9:1
The realisation of the disciples that Jesus is the Messiah is followed closely by learning he’s going to die soon and that they might have to as well – although, to be fair, all of the crowd hear this last bit.
In talking to anyone about being a Christian, I might say it is about following Jesus. But do I add that this means ‘taking up my cross daily’? I feel challenged as I don’t think I’ve chatted about this passage for decades. How honest am I/are we in presenting the Christian life as involving asking for God’s help in choosing his way and coping with self-denial every day? Can we do this in talking with Muslim neighbours, in groups and in mentoring, where appropriate? Jesus tells us not to be ashamed of his words.
Following the denial discourse, those who are still there are encouraged that some of them will see the Kingdom of God come in power (Mark 9:1). Let’s continue to pray and work towards people around us coming to know our amazing, gracious, powerful God through his son Jesus, who we shall one day actually see sitting on his throne in heaven.