25 – Blind Men
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.
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.
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?”
- Compassion: A strong feeling of sympathy
- Leaven: Yeast; Something which changes something else, like making bread rise.
- Perceive: Realise
Why are we sometimes so slow at learning lessons?
What do you think Jesus was really talking about when he refers to the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees?
Mark 7:31-37 speaks about a deaf man who had trouble speaking, and the way in which Jesus helped him. What becomes obvious when we read this passage is that the problem of the disciples was that they were blind!
Think about what is happening here. Once again, a great number of people have followed Jesus to a distant place where there is no food available for them. For some reason, the disciples do not believe it is possible to feed them all, although Jesus a little while ago succeeded in feeding a lot more people with even less bread and fish! Of course, Jesus doesn’t have any difficulty doing the same thing again.
Having sailed to another area, we see the Pharisees coming to him and asking to see a miracle in order to prove his authority. It is certain that you and I have lost count of the amazing things Jesus has done up to this point, and still they wish to see more. In the same way as he sighed when he saw the sad effect of sin on the deaf man, now Jesus sighs because the sin of these people has made them so blind to the truth.
Having left that place, Jesus warns his followers not to be like the religious leaders, but they completely misunderstand. They think that Jesus is telling them off for forgetting to bring more than one loaf of bread. It is difficult not to laugh at the disciples here. They are unable to see that, if Jesus can feed five thousand people with five loaves and four thousand with seven loaves (with plenty of food left over), he can easily feed them with just one loaf! It is obvious they have fallen into the same trap as the Pharisees. They were judging everything from the outside, literally, without seeing the truth. They had not understood that everything is possible with God.
Do you sometimes forget the amazing things God has done in the past?
Why is it important for us to avoid incorrect ideas like those held by Pharisees and Herod?
that God will remind you every day of his greatness and keep you from believing things that are not true and from depending on yourself.