I am a firm believer that in life, we repeat the lessons we don’t learn.
Lessons are repeated because our response produces an outcome that keeps us circling the same mountain. We know we’ve learned the lesson when we begin to do what we learned like it’s second nature.
You would think that because the disciples learned directly from Jesus and witnessed all His miracles, they would be expert learners. Yet, even the disciples had difficulty understanding and remembering what they saw and heard Jesus teach.
In Mark 8:14-21, the disciples are making a short trip from one side of the Sea of Galilee to the other. This came after the disciples watched Jesus fed 4,000 people with only seven loaves of bread and a few fish as they collected seven baskets of leftovers.
As they set sail, someone realized that no one loaded the seven baskets of bread into the boat. And now the blame game begins.
At some time between the miracle and set sail, the disciples suffered amnesia. On top of that, Jesus has another confrontation with the Pharisees.
This time the Pharisees demand that Jesus give them another sign to authenticate His claims, although they have seen Jesus perform many miracles.
Miracles are the evidence of the work of God. But here, the word “sign” means they demand something more than just a miracle.
They wanted Jesus to do something like when;
- Joshua prayed, and the sun and moon stood still for 24 hours, Joshua 10:23.
- Or, like Elijah who prayed, and fire came down from heaven, 2 Kings 1:10.
- Or like when Samuel was making a sacrifice on Israel’s behalf, and the Philistines decided to attack, and Samuel prayed, and the LORD thundered sending the Philistines into a panic running away in fear, 1 Samuel 7:10.
Jesus replies to their request in Mark 8:12, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” “This generation” refers to the Pharisees, and there will be given no other sign than what has been given.
Unbelief always finds a way to reject the truth.
This behavior was expected from the Pharisees, but it’s an entirely different matter when your followers’ actions mimic your enemy’s actions. The unbelief of the Pharisees apparently was contagious.
So Jesus asks them a question to stimulate their memory. Having eyes, do you not yet see, or having ears, do you not yet hear?
TRANSLATION: What have you seen me do in moments like this? What have you heard me say regarding situations like this?
He reminds them how he fed 4,000 with seven loaves of bread only a few hours prior and then asks how many baskets were filled with the leftovers? Seven, they responded.
Why can’t they believe that He can feed 13 with one loaf of bread if He could do that? Do you not understand?
The lesson Jesus is teaching His disciples and us is that what you have seen and heard is the evidence you need to trust God in the future.
Every sermon, every lesson, every Bible study, and every season isn’t something merely to attend or endure but is the compounding evidence of God’s faithfulness.
We must draw upon these faith-building moments when pandemics hit, tension abounds, on those months when we have more expenses than income, or when all life feels chaotic.
If we forget or neglect who God is and what He has done, we open the door to the pervasive nature of doubt in these moments.
I don’t believe in coincidences, and there is a subtly suggested symbolism that I’m not sure the disciples at the moment caught when they commented, “We only have one loaf of bread.”
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Jesus is the bread of life. When all you have is Jesus, you have all you need! When you give Him the little you have, He takes it and does far more with it than you could ever do on your own!
Don’t allow doubt or unbelief to erase what we have seen and what we have heard.