Bread Enough For All

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 8:1-10.

We began our journey watching Jesus feed thousands of people, an event in Jewish territory that told the Jews that God has come and he is feeding his people with bread! Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side, a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people. Sure enough, they run into a Syrophoenician woman. What does she get from Jesus? Bread!*

Now we are in Mark 8 and we are going to watch Jesus feed another group of people. Seems like a repeat of the event in Mark 6 but there are subtle but critically important difference. Please read the passage because I have some questions for you.

Who said the people had to be fed?
How many loaves of bread did they have?
How was the crowd arranged when they sat down?
What did Jesus do with the bread?
How many baskets of bread did they gather?
Did anybody go hungry?

Everything in this passage shouts Gentile. How many loves of bread? Seven.
How many baskets of bread left over? Seven. There are no five books of the law here; no twelve tribes of Israel. Seven tells us this is Gentile territory. There were seven nations in Canaan that were sent packing by the Jews. Even their baskets are wrong – spuris baskets, not kophinos, the Jewish word for bread baskets.

This time around, the people need to eat but it’s not the disciples who point this out, it’s Jesus. Back in Jewish territory, the disciples told Jesus their people needed to eat. Now they are silent. Why wouldn’t they want to give them something to eat? These are not God’s people! They don’t know Moses, they don’t keep the commandments! No bread for them!

And yet, did anyone go hungry? No, they all ate and were satisfied.

Are you understanding yet?

*Symbolically speaking

Bread Even for Them?

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 8:1-10.

We began our journey watching Jesus feed thousands of people, an event in Jewish territory that told the Jews that God has come and he is feeding his people with bread! Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side, a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people. Sure enough, they run into a Syrophoenician woman. What does she get from Jesus? Bread!*

Now we are in Mark 8 and we are going to watch Jesus feed another group of people. Seems like a repeat of the event in Mark 6 but there are subtle but critically important difference. Please read the passage because I have some questions for you.

Who said the people had to be fed?
How many loaves of bread did they have?
How was the crowd arranged when they sat down?
What did Jesus do with the bread?
How many baskets of bread did they gather?
Did anybody go hungry?

Everything in this passage shouts Gentile. How many loves of bread? Seven.
How many baskets of bread left over? Seven. There are no five books of the law here; no twelve tribes of Israel. Seven tells us this is Gentile territory. There were seven nations in Canaan that were sent packing by the Jews. Even their baskets are wrong – spuris baskets, not kophinos, the Jewish word for bread baskets.

This time around, the people need to eat but it’s not the disciples who point this out, it’s Jesus. Back in Jewish territory, the disciples told Jesus their people needed to eat. Now they are silent. Why wouldn’t they want to give them something to eat? These are not God’s people! They don’t know Moses, they don’t keep the commandments! No bread for them!

And yet, did anyone go hungry? No, they all ate and were satisfied.

Are you understanding yet?

*Symbolically speaking

Enough Bread Even for Dogs

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 7:24-30.

We began our journey watching Jesus feed thousands of people, an event in Jewish territory that told the Jews that God has come and he is feeding his people with bread! Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side, a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people. There’s no way God is on the other side. And Yet, Mark tells us the disciples didn’t understand. Now, in Mark 7:24-30, we watch Jesus as he encounters a woman who wants his help.

I’ve heard this woman described as a crescendo of demerit! She’s a woman, an unclean gentile, and she’s of the Syrophoenician race, from Tyre and Sidon. Do you know what means? She comes from the land of Jezebel who almost took all of Israel away from God! A crescendo of demerit.

Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking when Jesus responded to this woman? Jesus says, “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
I suspect they were thinking, “Yes Jesus, you got it! The bread is for your children; for God’s children, and not this Jezebel woman!”

There’s some wordplay in this passage that we can’t get into now but Jesus is giving this woman a riddle, he’s engaging her. Even though the disciples don’t understand and maybe we don’t understand, the woman understands. Check out verse 28 – she calls Jesus Lord. This is the only time someone addresses Jesus directly as Lord in Mark.

This underserving, morally suspect, pagan woman wants to know if there’s enough bread for her.

Is there?

The Other Side

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what Mark wants to tell us through bread. If you missed where we started, click here. Now, I invite you to consider Mark 6:45-52.

Last time, we watched Jesus feed thousands of people. The event takes place in Jewish territory and has all sorts of clues for the Jewish people that shout: God has come! We are his people and he is feeding us and we are satisfied!

Then Jesus takes his disciples to the other side.

The other side is a bad place with pigs and demons and unclean people are. There’s no way God is on the other side. To go there is dangerous; life threatening.

Do you have an other side? Do you have a people or place that you have determined God is not present and the places and people are demonic and unclean?

Fortunately, the disciples trust Jesus enough to begin the journey across the lake but what happens when they are on the water? A storm comes up and the disciples are terrified but Jesus shows up. Look at verse 51-52:

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

THEY didn’t understand.
Do YOU understand?

Fully Satisfied

I invite you on a journey through Mark’s Good News about Jesus Christ. We are thinking about what he wants to tell us through bread. If you missed the intro to this series, click here. We begin our journey in Mark 6:30-44.

Please read the passage because I have some questions for you:
Who said the people had to be fed?
How many loaves of bread did they have?
How was the crowd arranged when they sat down?
What did Jesus do with the bread?
How many baskets of bread did they gather?
Did anybody go hungry?

Usually, we simply focus on the miracle of Jesus feeding thousands of people. However, this passage is telling us we are in Jewish territory and this is a special moment for the Jews.

The disciples tell Jesus that these people – their people – are hungry and need to be fed. Jesus takes the bread, blesses the bread, breaks the bread and then gives the bread.

Five loaves of bread = five books of Moses.
They sit down in groups of 50 and 100 = Moses groupings.
Twelve baskets = twelve tribes of Israel.
Even the baskets are the kind that Jews used for bread, they are called kophinos.
Was anybody left hungry? No – everyone was satisfied.

Try to put yourself in their shoes – they are seeing, hearing and tasting things that are shouting to them: Celebrate! God has come! We are his people and he is feeding us and we are satisfied! There is bread in Israel and the true shepherd is feeding us!

Then Jesus does something unsettling: he tells his disciples that they are going to the other side…

Enough for Everyone

Over the next few weeks, I want to share something that I got turned on to late last year. It has caused me to re-evaluate my thinking and perhaps it will challenge and inspire you, too. I am thankful to my friends Elizabeth T. and Warren K. who helped me see more clearly.

Have you ever noticed that when we read the Bible we often compartmentalize the stories? When we do that, we miss important connections; connections that can inspire us, challenge us, and call us to be closer than ever before to God and others. I hope to share one of those connections with you.

In Mark’s Good News of Jesus Christ there is a symbol that Mark returns to over and over again. It’s a symbol that would have spoke to everyone in Mark’s time.

That symbol is bread.

Mark mentions bread 22 times and 19 of those times are in Mark 6, 7 and 8. I want to take you on a journey through these chapters and I hope we are able to see the breakthrough Jesus was trying to teach his friends because it’s a breakthrough we still need today.

Want to try some bread?

Disarmed

A good friend has encouraged me to read Derek Flood’s book, “Disarming Scripture.”* I haven’t even started it yet but it has already wrinkled my brain with this one paragraph my friend sent me. May it also wrinkle your brain.

“Jesus, while embracing the prophets’ priority of compassion over ritual, rejects their common tactic of blaming the victim, and instead acts to heal those who are sick, effectively undoing God’s supposed “judgment” on them. Jesus, in fact, does not associate sickness with God’s judgment at all, but with the kingdom of Satan, and thus acts to liberate people from its bondage, rather than upholding it as right and calling for repentance as the prophets do. Jesus therefore rejects the prophets’ claim that such judgment (sickness, suffering, etc.) is God’s work, and instead frames his healing ministry in terms of the kingdom of God advancing against Satan’s kingdom (cf. Luke 11:17–20).” ~Derek Flood, Disarming Scripture.

*This isn’t a wholesale endorsement of this book, rather it’s just a note about why I would bother to check it out.