Summary: A look at Jesus as He dealt with His Disciples trying to get them to see Him for who He is and understand His purpose. As Pastors, we do the same thing each week, and get the same response from many...they don't get it and it can be frustrating.....
“A Frustrated Jesus”
As we have read, it was at Antioch that followers of Christ were first called Christians. It was meant to be a derogatory remark. This was during the time of great persecution of the church which was in its infancy. The Roman Empire was was in control of most of the known world. They had tolerated the Jews and allowed them to practice their religion so long as it did not upset Caesar. Paul would make his missionary journeys, as would many of the other Apostles. The term “Apostle” was originally a secular term, and was used to identify the one designated or appointed as in charge of either governmental or secular affairs. Under adversity and opposition the Church grew, both in numbers and in maturity. The Great Commission had called for believers to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost. As we look back at passages of scripture, we see that Jesus often had a difficult time making disciples out of His own disciples. Mark 8 gives us a vivid picture as we’ll see. As Paul would begin his Ministry, he would do his best to teach the often troubled church in Corinth, that they were Ambassadors of Christ. And so we will see three different terms used to identify believers, each one identifying a different responsibility we have as believers. Sometimes we forget that we have more than one responsibility as a believer. Far too often we see those who stop at that point, professing to be a believer. The fact of the matter is that Christ expects us to follow Him, to go with Him, being his Ambassador, His representative in the world we live in while continuing our journey with Him and growing as one of His disciples.
The Christian walk is a Journey, in fact it’s an eternal journey, not an event that we walk away from saying, “That was nice”, nor is it a organization that we come to regularly and pay our dues, and meet with likeminded and similarly focused individuals for the purpose of being identified as a member. Sadly, I find that all too often the latter two examples or what we see. It’s no wonder that we see a “Frustrated Jesus” in Mark 8.
Look what had taken place immediately preceding his conversation with Peter.
Having already witnessed the feeding of 5000 with the meager portions donated by a young boy, when they encounter 4000, the disciples ask, and I’m paraphrasing, “Jesus, we are in the middle of nowhere, where do you expect us to find enough to feed 4000 people”. I can hear them grumbling to one another. “Why do we have to feed everyone?” “I didn’t sign up for this”, “Why can’t they go home an eat”…. you get the picture, unfortunately the Disciples didn’t. Then after picking up 7 baskets full of leftovers, they get in a boat and heads for Dalmanutha. As they get to shore, they are greeted by Pharisees who immediately ask Jesus to prove himself by showing them a sign. Jesus tells them they are not going to get one and gets back in the boat and goes back to the other side. He warns the Disciples to “Beware of the Yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod”….. He is talking about the sin of unbelief, but the Disciples miss it again. It’s almost seems wrong to keep calling them disciples. Again they begin to grumble. Even though they had picked up 7 baskets full of bread, they had forgotten it, and all they had was one loaf which was in the boat. Can you hear the murmuring again….the grumbling among the disciples….finally one says it. “It’s because we have no bread”…..if it were not so serious, it would be comical. But we see the same thing happening today. At this point, they were not very good “Disciples”. They weren’t not retaining the disciplines that Jesus was teaching them. It’s at this point a seemingly frustrated Jesus calmly begins to teach them again, aware that he is dealing with mortal men, men not yet filled with the Holy Spirit. He asks a question that gives us the hint of frustration. “Why are talking about not having bread”? And Jesus goes over the events of the past months, patiently trying to get them to understand. One by one he names events. Remember when we fed the 5000? And how much did we pick up afterwards. I can almost here them answering in unison, so proud of knowing the answer. Then he reminds them, “And when we fed 4000, how many baskets did we have left over? Again, like kindergarten students they answer proudly in unison “Seven”. Then the big question, “Do you still not understand?”