June 08, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“He sighed deeply in spirit and said …”
Mark 8 is a chapter which seems to move from one failure to the next. We cannot measure the grief the Lord Jesus must have felt as He encountered unbelief, cynicism, negativism, and distrust on every hand.
The chapter begins with disciples who failed to appreciate His power. He had already fed 5,000 with five loaves and two small fish. Another multitude is present and as He expresses His desire to feed them, having compassion on them, the highest the disciples can rise is to say, “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?” How poor their memories; how limited their knowledge of Him; how weak their faith. We would rush to judge them except that our consciences convict us of similar limitations and failures.
Next the Pharisees failed to appreciate His Person (vv 10-13). They demanded a sign to authenticate His claims. Grieved and sorrowful, Mark tells us that the Lord Jesus “sighed.”
But the chapter continues to unfold the misunderstanding and blindness of men. They failed to appreciate His parabolic language” in verses 14-21. In a series of question, the Lord expresses something of His amazement at how slow they were to understand His teaching. He ends with a question which should search us as well: “How is it that ye do not understand?” How patient He had been with them; yet how slow they (and we) to learn.
Finally, the chapter seems to climax with Peter’s failure to appreciate His purpose in coming. The Lord communicated to this select group what was before Him. Make no mistake, the reality of Calvary lay heavy upon His heart. Yet, rather than show support or empathy, Peter “began to rebuke Him.”
He moved through this world unappreciated and unrecognized. Yet “no ungentle murmuring word, escaped that silent tongue.”
- Can you find links between the various challenges Christ faced in this chapter with the temptation by Satan in the wilderness? For example, the Pharisees wanted a “sign” to authenticate who He was.
- There are mysteries linked with the Lord Jesus, 100% God and 100% Man, which we cannot fathom. Yet His disclosure to His disciples about His future suffering was not to evoke pity. But while it was perhaps primarily meant to prepare them for it, as a Man experiencing human emotions and grief, the Lord would have valued their understanding and empathy.
- The Lord dealt in a different manner with unbelieving Pharisees and slow to believe disciples. What does this tell you of His ways?