Don’t tell anyone I’m the Messiah
Jesus feeds a hungry crowd of 4,0001It happened again. Jesus drew a large and hungry crowd that had no food. Jesus called his disciples together and said, 2“Listen, I feel for these people. They’ve stayed with me for three days and now they’re out of food. 3I could send them home without any food. But they would run out of energy along the way, and some of them have a long way to go.”
4His disciples said, “Where are we going to get enough bread to feed these people? We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”
5Jesus asked, “Well, what do you have? How many loaves?”
They said, “Seven.”
6Jesus turned to the crowd and told them to sit on the ground. He took the seven loaves of bread, thanked God for them, and then broke them into pieces and gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the people. 7They also came up with a few small fish. Jesus said his thanks for the food, and then he gave the fish to the disciples to pass out to the crowd.
8People ate as much as they wanted. And there were seven baskets of leftovers. 9There were about 4,000 people in that crowd. Jesus sent them on their way home. 10As soon as the crowd left, so did Jesus. He got into the boat with his disciples and they sailed off to the territory of Dalmanutha.
Jesus says no to a miracle11Some Pharisees came to see Jesus. They started talking with him, testing him with tough questions. They ended up arguing with him and demanding that he perform a miracle to prove himself. 12His spirit sighed long and hard. “Why do you people always want a miracle?” Jesus asked. “Well, I’m not going to give you any. And that’s the truth.” 13Jesus walked out on them, got into the boat again, and crossed to the other side of the lake.
Disciples worry that they forgot to bring bread14The disciples forgot to bring bread with them when they got into the boat for the trip. 15As they sailed across the lake Jesus warned his disciples, “Keep your eyes open. You’ve got to watch out for the Pharisees and Herod, and for the yeast they produce that permeates everything.” 16But all the disciples could talk about was the fact that no one brought bread.
17Jesus knew what they were talking about. So he said, “Guys, come on, why are you talking about bread you don’t have? Don’t you get what’s going on? Are your heads really that thick? 18You have eyeballs, don’t you? Why can’t you see? You have ears, don’t you? Why can’t you hear? And one more thing, what happened to your memory? 19Let me ask you guys something. When I fed 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did we have?”
They said, “Twelve.”
20“When I fed the crowd of 4,000 with seven loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did we have then?”
They said, “Seven.”
21Then Jesus said, “After all of this, you still don’t have any idea about what’s going on here?”
Jesus uses spit to heal a blind man22When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus. They begged Jesus to touch him so he would be healed. 23Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the town. Jesus moistened the man’s eyes with spit and then placed his hands on the man. Jesus asked, “What do you see?”
24With part of his vision restored, the man said, “I see people walking around, but they look like trees.”
25Jesus then touched the man’s eyes, completely restoring his sight. The man saw everything clearly, in crisp detail. 26Jesus told the man to go back to his home, but “Don’t go back to the village.”
Jesus: Don’t tell anyone I’m the Messiah27Jesus and his disciples left the area. They traveled to the villages in the area of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?”
28The disciples said, “Well, some say you’re John the Baptizer. Others say you’re the prophet Elijah. Other folks say you’re a prophet.”
29“Okay,” Jesus said. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered: “You’re the Messiah.”
30Jesus sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he’s the Messiah.
Jesus: I have to die before I can rise again31Jesus started teaching the disciples that he, the Son of Humans, would have to suffer through a lot of misery. He said he would get rejected by the top Jewish leaders: the elders, chief priests, along with experts in the Law who are known as scribes. In the end, Jesus said, he would be killed—but three days later he would come back to life. 32Jesus was talking openly and matter-of-factly about this. Peter pulled him off to the side and told him to stop it.
33Jesus looked over at his disciples, then he told Peter to stop it: “Get out of here, Satan! You’re not in sync with God. You’re thinking like a typical human.” 34Jesus called the crowd of people together with his disciples. Then he told the group, “If you want to follow me, you can’t do it by putting yourself first. You’ll need to make some big sacrifices. But do it. Follow me.
35“If you insist on living life your way instead of God’s way, you’ll be lost. But if you’re willing to lose your life for me and for the good news I’m teaching, you’ll be saved. 36What good would it do you to buy the whole world if it cost you your life?
37“Tell me, what’s your soul worth? 38If you’re ashamed of me and embarrassed by what I teach, the Son of Humans will be ashamed of you when he comes back in a glorious return, with the Father and holy angels.”
The location of Dalmanutha is still lost in history somewhere. One popular guess is that it was in the area of Magdala, hometown of Mary Magdalene, near the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. By boat, Magdala’s nearby port is about 5 miles (8 km) from Jesus’s ministry headquarters in Capernaum.
If Jesus had been in the area of Magdala, it would have been about seven miles (11 km) across the lake to where he landed at Bethsaida.
More commonly translated as “hardened hearts.” That’s a phrase Mark used to describe the enemies of Jesus (3:5). But he used it again to describe the disciples (6:52).
Jesus is quoting Jeremiah 5:21.
Saliva does have bacteria-fighting properties, though eye doctors today would certainly recommend against spitting in someone’s eye. Physicians in Roman times prescribed saliva to fight eye infections. See footnote for 7:33.
Caesarea Philippi was a Roman city at the southern foot of Mount Hermon. It was about 27 miles (43 km) north of Bethsaida, a two-day walk.
Elijah is the prophet who is famous for not dying. He got swept up into heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Some Jews expected Elijah to come back and help prepare the people for the Messiah’s arrival: “I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives” (Malachi 4:5, New Living Translation).
“Messiah” is the Hebrew version spoken by Jewish people. “Christ” is the Greek version, spoken as the international language of Jesus’s day. Both words mean “anointed one,” as in a prophet anointed by God or a king anointed by a nation. See how Matthew and Luke quoted Peter: Matthew 16:16, Luke 9:20.
For “Son of Humans,” see the note for 2:10.
The story of Jesus feeding a hungry crowd of 4,000 sounds déjà vu, very much like the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 (6:35-44). Many serious Bible experts call these stories doublets, not because there are two of them, but because one story got told two different ways. In both stories, Jesus is feeding a crowd with a few loaves of bread and a few fish. Most Christians have been taught to believe both stories are separate. How do you think it would affect your confidence in the Bible if they are not? What if Mark compiled the stories from various sources and some of his sources got the body count wrong in one of the stories?
The story of Jesus feeding “5,000 men” (6:44), not counting women and children, is one of the more famous stories about him. With five loaves of bread and two fish, he hosts a whopper of a picnic. All four Bible books about Jesus tell that story: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13. And two books add the story of another picnic for 4,000: Matthew 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-10. Let’s assume these stories are not some kind of metaphor or duplicate reporting, but that the miracles really took place. What do you think was the point of the miracle, if there was a point beyond simply feeding hungry people?
Jesus did a lot of miracles during his ministry. When Jewish leaders known as Pharisees asked him to perform a miracle to prove he had God’s backing, Jesus had the opportunity to convince people who could help him get his message out. Why do you think Jesus told them, “I’m not going to give you any” (8:12)?
After the miracle of Jesus feeding 4,000, Jesus and the disciples got into a boat to travel across the lake. At some point one of the disciples realizes that no one brought any bread to eat. They all started obsessing about it, apparently wondering what they were going to do when they got hungry. What do you think that says about the disciples?
Jesus seems to use the idea of yeast to describe how hypocrisy affects everything that the Pharisees do (8:15). For those of you who bake with yeast, what do you think makes that a good illustration?
For some strange reason, Jesus didn’t heal a blind man by simply telling him to be healed or by touching him. “Jesus moistened the man’s eyes with spit” (8:23). The footnote adds that a Roman science book written in the first century by a man named Pliny reports that Romans treated eye infections with spit. Why do you think Jesus is practicing Roman medicine instead of simply healing the man in the usual miraculous way?
When Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is, Mark reports that Peter said, “You’re the Messiah” (8:29). Luke quotes Peter the same way (9:20). But Matthew takes that further. He says Peter declared Jesus not only the Messiah but the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). Do you think there’s a possibility that Matthew exaggerated a little, or possibly misremembered?
What do you think Jesus is talking about when he says he will come back from the dead “three days later” (8:31)? In Luke, he refers to these three days as the “Sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29).
Clearly, Jesus told his disciples he was going to die soon: “Jesus said, he would be killed—but three days later he would come back to life” (8:31). Luke adds this: “The Son of Humans is going to get betrayed very soon” (Luke 9:44), “he’s going to be killed” (Luke 9:22). Yet the crucifixion will seem to catch them completely off guard. Why do you think they didn’t get what Jesus said?
When Jesus told the disciples that he was going to have to die, Peter had a natural response. He told Jesus to stop talking like that. Jesus seemed to go over the top, however, with his reaction to Peter. He called Peter the devil: “Get out of here, Satan!” (8:33). Now that just sounds rude. Why do you think Jesus reacted that way?
LIFE APPLICATION. “If you’re ashamed of me and embarrassed by what I teach, the Son of Humans will be ashamed of you” (8:38). What about Jesus or his teachings do you think embarrasses some Christians when they talk about him with people who don’t believe what the Bible teaches about him?