Mark 8: 1-13
Haven’t we already been here once? It seems odd that Mark would include yet ANOTHER feeding of a multitude story. But here it is. The feeding of the 4000. Not quite the 5000 as from chapter 6 (vv. 30-44), but still, impressive.
I think the key to understanding this feeding story is found in verses 11-13 when the pharisees don’t quite get what Jesus just did. Even after feeding 4000 men (the 4000 does not include women and children), with just a few loves of bread and a couple fish, they still ask for a sign that Jesus is who people say he is. They’re checking up on him.
I don’t blame them. As a religious leader I’m always concerned with preachers who’re more interested in lining their own pockets and building their own empires than in preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Slick tongued preachers were as numerous then as they are today. The pharisees were simply looking after the people under their care.
And maybe that’s why the pharisees kept asking for signs. They wanted to be absolutely clear that Jesus was the real deal. They didn’t want anyone being hurt by harmful teaching.
But, Jesus, on the receiving end of these questions is understandably perturbed. Even saddened by the pharisees. He refuses them a sign and takes the next boat out of town.
I think the questions the pharisees are the same questions people have today of Jesus: Are you really who people say you are? Are you really from God?
These are questions that no sign can answer. Only a liberating encounter with God’s only Son can answer the great questions of God.