Summary: There are times when we see and yet do not actually perceive; there are times when we hear, but fail to listen. Such was the case with the disciples. They thought Jesus was speaking of physical bread, but He was conveying spiritual truth.
A Big Misunderstanding
Mark 8: 10-21
Our text today immediately follows the miraculous feeding of the 4,000. Jesus departed from their midst to another region near the Sea of Galilee, and is quickly met with more opposition and doubt. I am well aware that our Lord came to earth, being fully God and fully man. While He possessed all the deity of God, He also possessed the attributes of man. I am convinced that He grew weary at times from the continual harassment of the Pharisees and the lack of faith within the disciples. No doubt this must have been discouraging at times. Through it all, Jesus never wavered; He continued to honor His Father and minister to mankind.
Our text opens with an encounter with the Pharisees and closes with an intimate moment of teaching the disciples. Jesus sought to instill truth in the disciples by revealing the genuine motives of the Pharisees, but they failed to comprehend the truth He conveyed. As we examine the difficulties within the text, I want to consider: A Big Misunderstanding. Hopefully we will be able to receive the truth Jesus conveyed and be strengthened in the faith. Notice:
I. The Challenge of the Pharisees (10-13) – As was often the case, the Pharisees were never far from Jesus, and typically sought ways to criticize and deny the Lord. This encounter was no different. First, we discover:
A. The Location (10) – And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. While there is really no special significance to this place, other than the fact that Jesus determined to minister there, I did find it interesting. This is the only time this place is mentioned in the Bible. It was a village located on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, near the town of Magdala. It was situated just north of Tiberias and south of Capernaum. In the parallel passage, Matthew referred to Jesus coming to the coasts of Magdala. This is not a contradiction in Scripture; the two places were located near each other. It is interesting to note that Mary Magdalene was from the town of Magdala.
Jesus spent much time in this region and was committed to reaching people wherever they were. He came to minister to them, and His ministry was not reserved for the larger, more sophisticated areas. It seems possible that Jesus may have dropped by to visit Mary Magdalene and others with her who believed. Whatever the case, Jesus purposed to go there. I am thankful He came to me when I couldn’t get to Him!
B. The Temptation (11) – And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. Like many previous occasions, the Pharisees came to question the Lord, seeking to discredit and tempt Him. This time they requested to see a sign from heaven. Quite literally they were demanding more proof that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. All of the previous encounters had failed to convince them of His deity. They refused what they had experienced in the past, and demanded more.
Unfortunately many continue to possess the same attitude and doubt like the Pharisees. The Lord has proven without doubt His deity, being without question our Savior and Redeemer, and yet they fail to believe. They want to bargain with Him, demanding signs and miracles if they are to believe.
C. The Admonition (12-13) – And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.  And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Jesus being deeply troubled in His spirit, refused to grant their request. His refusal was not necessarily to keep them in unbelief, but He refused to perform for them as if He were nothing more than a freak in a circus show. Their continued denial of His deity and lack of faith deeply troubled the Lord. Jesus immediately left them and departed unto the other side.
Jesus knew the unbelieving Pharisees would never be satisfied. If He agreed to their demands this time, they would continue to demand more signs in the future. Salvation is certainly a miracle of God’s grace, but it is received by faith, not through the performance of miracles. If these yet lacked the faith to believe, another miracle would not convince them. We must respond to the Lord’s offer of salvation by faith. While I rejoice that He is omnipotent, I had to receive salvation as an act of His grace by faith! His sacrifice on Calvary was enough and His Word is true!