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“Can You See Anything?”

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Scripture:
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22–26 NRSV)
Observation:
This whole passage is normally interpreted in light of the faith of the disciples. They are the ones who are struggling in their faith. We have seen this in the last few passages and it seems the journey to complete and total faith in Jesus will not be easy. The two stages of healing are thought to be prophetic, emphasizing the work that still needs to be done for the disciples faith to come to complet…

Do You Not Yet Understand?

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Scripture:
Mark 8:14   Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” 16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Observation:
The Pharisees had just asked Jesus for a sign from heaven so that they would accept his authority. Now, Jesus i…

He Sighed Deeply

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Scripture:
Mark 8:11   The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Observation:
Jesus had just finished his second miracle of feeding a huge crowd. For the Pharisees, miracles were not affirmation that Jesus was from God. While they had been watching him and his ministry from the beginning they wanted to push him to reveal the source of his authority.
The call for a sign was a rejection of the authority of Jesus. Throughout his ministry Jesus had been calling his listeners to radical faith which rejected the need for signs. No wonder he sighed deeply. The scripture is very descriptive. He sighed deeply in his spirit. He was wounded by their question.
While we may say that the human side of Jesus is wi…

Have You Learned Yet?

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Scripture:
They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now 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. (Mark 8:7–10 NRSV)
Observation:
This story is just another test for the disciples, and one where they failed miserably. Crowds had been following Jesus and listening to his teaching for three days. Weakened by fasting, prayer and study, the people were in need of nourishment. While Jesus had provided for the people in a similar situation, once again he reached out to the disciples. 
Jesus was showing his compassion, while the disciples were marked by helplessness. How was it that they had once again left Jesus out of their calculations? 
Giving thanks for the food, Jesus modeled a spirit of gratitude. Again, the people were fi…

Opened Eyes and Ears

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Scripture:
Mark 7:31   Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
Observation:
Jesus had been ministering around the region of the ten cities of the Decapolis. More than likely he had been trying to spend his time teaching and didn’t want to be too dist…

When We Leave the Marketplace

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Scripture:
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” (Mark 7:1–8 NRSV)
Observation:
Jesus and the di…

In the Marketplace

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Scripture:
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. (Mark 6:53–56 NRSV)
Observation:
News about Jesus’ activity in the world began to spread like wildfire. People now rushed from across the land to come and see this man. Whereas the woman with the issue of blood was the first to have been healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment, this now became commonplace. We see a shift from ministry in the synagogue to ministry in the marketplace where the people had been waiting in anticipation of meeting Jesus.
Application:
The marketplace represented the center of the city, the place where humanity ca…