Mark 8:1-21 - Miracle meal and missing the point
In this section of the chapter, we see Jesus doing a massive public miracle and then challenging his disciples' small understanding of who he is.
Jesus is God and therefore has no problem doing miracles whenever the time is right. And this is definitely a miracle. Seven loaves and a few fish would not have gone very far among four thousand very hungry people. They weren't stingy portions either. Mark says that 'everyone ate and was satisfied' (v8). And if that wasn't enough, there were seven basketfuls of leftovers too (v8).
The Pharisees who questioned Jesus really didn't get it. Asking for a sign after the massive public miracle Jesus had just done? Really? How blind could they be?
And then there's this misunderstanding in the boat where even Jesus' disciples are missing something. Jesus passes comment about the 'yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod' and the disciples don't understand him. They wrongly assume he must be on about the fact that they've only brought one loaf of bread with them and that he must be concerned about that. Kind of a dumb thing to assume after the miracle Jesus has just done!
Jesus calls them on it by asking them if their hearts are hardened (v17). When people are confronted with the truth about Jesus and they act and talk like it's not there, a hard heart is usually the problem. It's a stubbornness of the person's will but also a blindness that they can't really help. What's needed is a willingness to see the truth but at the same time they need their spiritual eyes opening so they can see it clearly. We'll see more of this later in this chapter.
For now, it's enough to point out that Jesus is patiently challenging the disciples' hard hearts and slow minds. It's like he's saying, 'Do you really still not get who I am after all the miracles you've seen and been involved in? Come on guys! Stop thinking so small! The truth is bigger and you've seen it but you're not admitting it yet!'
The disciples' conversation showed how little they understood Jesus. It's the same today. People's conversations sooner or later show how much they really understand about Jesus. And today, Jesus still patiently challenges us and wants to enlarge our understanding of him because the truth is still bigger than we have seen or admitted so far. We need to learn more about Jesus, learn more from Jesus and ask God to open our eyes to the truth!