Deja Vu
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 8:1-27
March 08, 2020

Recently I have been working on losing some weight. I’m eating less and suffering more. I’m having a bit of Deja vu. I’ve been here before.

It reminds me of a summer I spent in Europe while I was in college. The college I attended required a summer semester. I took mine in Europe. The first month was spent learning German and three weeks were spent learning French.

And frankly, the food was lacking. There was never really enough in my opinion.
For breakfast I had one boiled egg and a small container of yogurt.
Lunch and dinner weren’t much better. I was, after all, a college student with limited funds.

But at least I got to learn some french. Some of it I still remember today.

sauté - it’s how I like my mushrooms.
Hors d'oeuvres - I’m always up for some of those.
Bon appétit - it’s what I like my hosts to say
Crème brûlée -
À la mode - it’s how I like my pie.
Ah French. Ah, food.

Ah that feeling of deja vu.

You know, I get that feeling when I read Mark 8 as well.

It seems like we’ve been here before.
Let’s read our text and then I will show you why we may experience deja vu when you read Mark 8

“In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them,

“I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.

And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.”

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”

And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.

And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them.

And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.

And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.

And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.

12 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.”

13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.

17 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?

18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?

19 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.”

20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.”

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

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him.

23 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?”

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

25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

This is the word of God.

So, have you experienced some deja vu?
Let me help you.

Mark has put together a series of events which parallel events he recorded beginning in Mark 6:31 through Mark 7:37

6:31-44 - Feeding the Multitude - 8:1-9
6:45-56 - Crossing the Sea and Landing - 8:10
7:1-23 - Conflict with the Pharisees - 8:11-13
7:24-30 - Conversation about bread - 8:13-21
7:31-36 - Healing - 8:22-26
7:37 - Confession of Faith - 8:27-30

“He has done all things well”
“You are the Christ”

Why has Mark put this series of incidents together in this fashion?
All scripture is inspired by God for the purpose of instructing us in righteousness.

We are to learn something from this text - maybe even a few things. It is not merely a history of the life of Jesus. The text leads us somewhere. Along the way we will pick up some truths which are eternal. Truths which ought to inform and transform our lives.

Beginning with the feeding of the 4000, these words draw my attention. Perhaps it is because they are in red. They are words Jesus spoke.

And he began with these three words.

“I have compassion.”

The first nugget of truth flows out of these three words.

Jesus is full of compassion.
He understands humanity because he is one of us.

He has been hungry. He knows our needs and he responds with compassion.

The people have been so spiritually hungry that they have gone without food for three days. So Jesus acts out of compassion to feed them.

But the disciples almost stood in the way.

“How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

Notice that they didn’t say “How can WE feed these people...?”

No, that was somebody else’s job.

Not so. Jesus asks, “How many loaves do you have?”

Not only is Jesus full of compassion, but he expects his disciples to learn compassion and to act upon it.

Jesus is compassionate about our needs and expects us to be compassionate about the needs of others.

Jesus saw opportunity.

The disciples saw obstacles.

Jesus had compassion, the disciples had complaints.

The disciples said it can’t be done.
Jesus said do it.

The first nugget of truth here: Jesus is compassionate and he expects us to be compassionate as well.

So the 4000 are fed, with 7 baskets of left overs.

They get in a boat and arrive at Dalmanutha, a town near Magdela on the shore of the sea of Galilee.

There Jesus encounters some Pharisees. And our second nugget reveals itself.

Some people will always reject Jesus.

They ask for a sign from heaven.

I don’t know about you, but don’t you think that Jesus has been providing signs all along?

At the very beginning there was a sign from heaven as God spoke from heaven at Christ’s baptism.

Ever since that he has healed the lame.
Given sight to the blind.
Cast out demons.
Cleansed lepers.
Healed a withered hand.
Calmed a storm
Fed a multitude
Walked on water
Calmed the sea
Healed the deaf.
Given words to the mute
Fed another multitude

And NOW they demand a sign?

In parallel passages of this event found in Matthew and Luke we are told that Jesus said they would receive no sign other than the sign of Jonah.

But that will be no sign at all for those who are determined NOT to believe Jesus is who he says he is.

Because there are some people who will always reject Jesus.

This is not a new lesson. You remember Jesus speaking of the rich man and Lazarus.

If you just send someone from the dead my family will believe.

Luke 16:31 If they can’t believe Moses and the Prophets, they wont believe if someone is risen from the dead.

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

They later do receive the sign of Jonah when Christ is raised from the dead. And you know what you don’t see? The Pharisees suddenly believing.

The problem is that miracles don’t produce faith.

Some people will always reject Jesus.

After this the disciples are again in a boat with Jesus and become aware that they are getting hungry.

But they’ve only got one measly loaf of bread.
13 men, one loaf. What could we possibly do?

The conversation on the boat reveals our third nugget of truth.

Spiritual truths are easy to miss.

Sometimes we are so focused on the temporal that we miss the spiritual.

This whole passage leads to this, spiritual truths are easy to miss - even by the disciples.

Our temporal concerns cloud our ability to see spiritual truths.

This text is all about spiritual understanding or lack of it!

Verse 4 seems to imply that the disciples had completely forgotten about the feeding of the 5000

Now, in verse 16 they have forgotten about the feeding of the 4000.

Even mature believers, which the disciples were not, having experienced God’s power and provision, have subsequently acted in unbelief.

Spiritual truths are easy to miss.

For some reason the disciples forget to bring bread with them for the trip across the lake.

And they think this is the most important thing.

But Jesus makes it a teaching moment. Reflecting back on the refusal of the Pharisees to believe, he warns about the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod.

Still stuck on that one loaf of bread, with stomachs growling, the disciples don’t see the spiritual truth Jesus wants them (and us) to gain from this event.

Leaven is a symbol of evil - evil has a permeating power. Here the leaven of the Pharisees clearly refers to their desire for a sign from God to validate the actions of Jesus. Herod too desired a sign (Luke 23:8)

Jesus is warning his disciples not to make the same mistake!
They want it to be about bread, Jesus wanted it to be about faith.

He had provided far more on two occasions, with leftovers! He, the multiplier of bread was with them in the boat. They didn’t need more than one loaf. Jesus was with them, what else could they really need?

Be careful not to demand a sign in order to believe in Jesus.

The disciples had to be in some type of spiritual fog not to have simply trusted Jesus at this point.

Spiritual truths are easy to miss.

The disciples are worried about bread and they forget what God has done, so they can’t see the truth Jesus was teaching.

The importance of this story for Mark is that it anticipates the opening of the eyes of understand of the disciples.

And it is illustrated in the healing which comes next.

A healing which reveals our final nugget of truth for today.

Spiritual insight can be gradual.

The healing of the blind man - this is the third healing we have seen recently where someone brought people to Jesus, the mother, the friends of the deaf man and “Some people”

Only three healing miracles in Mark are done in private - Jairus daughter, 5:35-43,
the deaf mute 7:31-37 and here

Jesus takes him aside, spits in his eyes, lays his hands on him and asks him “Do you see anything?”

The man had probably seen before, otherwise he wouldn’t have known that people looked like trees.

Jesus lays his hand upon his eyes again and his sight is restored. I love veres 25 “He saw everything clearly.”

Don’t you wonder, why the slow healing?

Maybe to reflect to the disciples how our eyes are often opened slowly - seeing we don’t see clearly until we’ve continued to be touched by Jesus.

Our insight into spiritual things is sometimes slow coming.

Our spiritual maturity is often uneven. In some areas we excel in others we remain blind.

Four nuggets of truth from this text.
Jesus is full of compassion and wants us to be as well.
Some people will always reject Jesus.
Spiritual truths are easy to miss.
And spiritual insight can be gradual.

Perhaps if we had better memories we would have better faith. Better spiritual insight.

I’m reminded of the memory of an elephant as illustrated in this story.

A circus owner made money on his elephant by betting people that they couldn’t get the elephant to jump off the ground with all four feet. The people paid $10 to try, and they would be paid $1,000 if the elephant jumped. He made money for years because elephants don’t jump. One day in Nebraska an old farmer walked up to the elephant with a pitchfork and then walked beside the elephant and jabbed the pitchfork into his side. That elephant jumped.

So the elephant’s owner simply changed the wager. He knew elephants only shake their heads from side to side, but they never nod. So for several years he made lots of cash as people paid $10 to try to get the elephant to nod. One day they returned to the same Nebraska town. The same farmer walked up to the elephant holding a pitchfork. The farmer said to the elephant, “Remember me?” And the elephant nodded.

We should be like an elephant when it comes Jesus: Don’t forget
He is full of compassion and wants us to be as well.
Some people will always reject Jesus.
Spiritual truths are easy to miss.
And our growth in Christ is often gradual.

But don’t be too quick to judge the disciples.
We all could have our compassion sharpened.
We all have at times rejected Jesus.
We all have missed what seem like obvious spiritual truths.
And we all have grown slowly in some areas of our spiritual lives.


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