Following Jesus was many things—exciting, amazing, fun, even—but easy it was not.
The Twelve were normal people following an extraordinary man. They were physical and emotional and Jesus was spiritual. Beyond all the miracles, Jesus wanted to teach them higher truths and deeper concepts. This was long before Calvary, so their hearts were not made new. It was years before Pentecost so they did not have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within them. Like the disciples that night in the middle of the lake, Jesus was paddling against a strong wind.
Back across the Galilee
After another miraculous meal, Jesus and the disciples boarded the boat and headed across the water again. Whichever disciple was assigned to take provisions failed in his mission and they had no bread to eat on the boat. It must be that the dispersed crowd claimed the seven baskets of leftovers but the fact remained they were in a boat with nothing to eat.
The Leaven of the Pharisees
Unconcerned with provisions, Jesus wanted to take the men deeper into the truths before them. Bread was a metaphor as was the ingredient in bread that made it rise in the baking process. Jesus wanted His men to see that there was a corrupting factor beneath the behavior of the Pharisees.
“Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
With empty faces the disciples looked at each other. They didn’t get it. They thought He was complaining that they had nothing to eat on board. You can hear the frustration in Jesus’ response.
“Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?
And do you not remember?
He shook His head and started over.
When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”
They knew this answer and the next one about the four thousand. They still didn’t get it
“How is it you do not understand?”
Before we come down too hard on these hard-hearted disciples, we need to take a look at our own hearts. We can be just as hard-headed and hard-hearted as the Twelve. How soon do we forget the faithfulness of God yesterday and begin to doubt His promises today? Truly we are without excuse. We are living under the New Covenant! Our sins were washed away when we repented of them and asked Jesus to be our Lord. The Disciples would not experience this until the resurrection. We have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within us to teach us and empower us. They would not experience this until the Day of Pentecost. When our hearts are hard, we are without excuse. If we keep having to learn the same lesson over and over, perhaps we should ask the Lord to soften our hearts.
Mark 8: 13-21
And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart. still 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 fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”
Lord Jesus, soften my heart! Give me a teachable spirit. Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past as I face the challenges of this day. Help me hear what the Spirit is saying to me. Train me thoroughly in Your Word by principle and directive. Help me act in faith upon this base of knowledge in the questions I must answer today. Holy Spirit, cleanse my heart. Empower my life so that I might walk the Path of Life in Victory! Amen and amen.
Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated
Words: Frances Ridley Havergal; Music: Henri A. C. Milan
1. Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.
2. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee,
swift and beautiful for thee.
3. Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee,
filled with messages from thee.
4. Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose,
every power as thou shalt choose.
5. Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne,
it shall be thy royal throne.
6. Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee,
ever, only, all for thee.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.