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The Power of Influence

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  1. Don't you understand? That is the question Jesus asked his disciples.
  2. Of all the people you would expect to understand, it would be the disciples. They were uniquely qualified and resourced:
    • From Jesus' initial call to be "fishers of men."
    • To the opportunities the disciples had to watch his miracles such as feeding the multitudes.
    • To their appointment as "apostles," Mark 3:14.
    • To the private instruction he gave them, e.g., about the parable of the sower, Mark 3:1ff.
  3. "Don't you understand?" is the question you ask to someone giving you blank look after you've given them a complete explanation.
  4. "Don't you understand?" is the quesion asked when behavior/response is completely incongruent with the information as when the disciples asked who would feed the mulititude after having already seen Jesus do it once before.
  5. "Don't you understand?" is what Jesus asks us when the priorities of our lives are completely out of sync with his values and teaching.

I. How can we feed this crowd?

  1. Mark is hard on the disciples. Beginning in Mark 6:30 he shows time after time when the disciples totally misunderstand the significance of what is happening around them.
    • First, the ask Jesus to send away a crowd of people so that the crowd might get something to eat. "Where are we going to get that kind of food?" they asked Jesus.
    • Then, when Jesus walked to them on the water of Galilee, Mark said that they were "terrified." And they were "utterly astounded." Not what you want to hear from people who are with the Savior.
    • In Mark 8:1 the disciples were confronted with a crowd of 4000 and the same challenge. "How can one feed this many people in the wilderness?" was the response of the disciples.
  2. Not surprising, really. Typical of the point of view we humans tend to have. We measure situations by our own limitations and abilities.
  3. Interesting story of Gideon. God removed his resources in order to make this point. Judges 7:1-8.
    • The Lord said to Gideon, 'The troops with you are too many....Israel would only take the credit away from me...' 33,000 troups.
    • Gideon sifted them out....and 10,000 remained.
    • Then the Lord said, 'with the three hundred that lapped water like a dog I will deliver you, and give the Midianites into your hand.'

II. Still talking about bread?

  1. The events between Mark 8:1 and Mark 8:21 occur in rapidfire fashion. It was a lot to process.
    • First the feeding of the 4000.
    • Then the controversy with the Pharisees.
    • The response of the disciples shows where their heads were. They were still thinking about bread, and what Jesus said about leaven got filtered through those ideas (about bread).
  2. Which prompts thoughts about where our attentions are at any moment. And whether those attentions can block our understanding.
    • Since we are human, it is unrealistic to think we have pure, focused attention.
    • We all have things that distract. The question is whether we know that.
  3. In writing about this Jack Dean Kingsbury said the following:
    • The disciples, however, prove themselves oblivious to all that has preceeded. 
    • They show by their remarks that they comprehend neither that Jesus has the authority to feed the crowd nor that he has endowed them with such authority.
    • The result of their incomprehension is that they fail badly in situations calling for insight, faith, courage, confession, or action. 
    • The reason for the disciples' incomprehension is traceable to the way they construe reality. 
  4. Paul was concerned about similar issues with the church in Colossae. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth... Colossians 3:2.  
  5.  There are some very notable instances in the disciples' lives of their failure to comprehend.
    • When they debated about who was greatest. Mark 9:33-37.
    • When Peter forbade Jesus to go to Jerusalem. Matthew 16:22.

III. Remember what God has done for you.

  1. It's interesting that Jesus anchors his disciples in their previous experience. Remember how many baskets of leftover bread you collected, he said to them.
  2. John reminded the church at Ephesus to Remember then from what you have fallen... Revelation 2:5.
  3. Jesus warned the disciples about the "yeast of the Pharisees." If there is no anchor, there is no way to avoid being being swept away by foreign influence.
  4. Paul warned the people at Ephesus to not be tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, Ephesians 4:14.
  5. Do you think that the disciples would have understood if they had "remembered" the 12 baskets of bread? Probably so.


  1. This conversation about yeast is sandwiched between the Pharisees claiming they needed a sign in order to believe (and understand) and the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida in order that he could see.
    • The contrasts are striking.
    • The blind man's friends begged for his sight to be restored.
    • The Pharisees thought they had sight.
  2. So Jesus asked his disciples, "Do you not yet understand?:
  3. What makes it difficult for you to see?
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