Summary: Mark's Gospel continues to show us the numerous episodes of compassion, care, concern, and confrontation that made up the person, ministry and work of the Lord Jesus. He is beyond our poor words of description.
Our journey through Mark's Gospel continues with these words that describe the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ; "He has done all things well." (7:37). No one could accuse Him of doing anything that had even a trace of fault, defect, mistake, or ineptness. His words and deeds were and are still a balm for our troubled souls. He is the Living Bread for the spiritually famished who are weary of gnawing on the fodder of the world. Mark makes it abundantly clear that we are witnessing the actions of God Incarnate, living among us, and writes with fervor about His wondrous words and deeds.
So far the Lord Jesus has been in the areas of Tyre and Sidon, an area predominantly inhabited by non-Jewish citizens and exposed to the pagan practices of Rome and their ancestors. He dealt with a Canaanite woman of Phoenicia whose daughter was demon-possessed by challenging the woman's faith and delivering her child from the malevolent beings as well. He has given sight and speech to a deaf-mute in the area. These acts of ministry towards the Gentiles was an object lesson for HIs disciples to show that He had come to deliver all the people from the bondage of sin and was the light sent from God as proclaimed by the prophets (Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 42:6; Malachi 4:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1:4, 9, 8:12, 12:35, 46; 1 John 1:7; Acts 1:8-11). He has spent time with His disciples teaching them and preparing them for the missions they would soon undertake, traveling to the area on the southeast coast of the Sea of Galilee to the area known as the Decapolis, or the Ten Cities.
They have been here before when Jesus encountered and delivered a local man from demonic possession that had been living among the dead (Mark 5:1-20) in agony and torment. The man, now freed from the demons had been told by Jesus to go back to his home and tell everyone what the LORD had done for him. This man was the first Gentile missionary, and his work had paid off as there was a crowd ready to hear from Jesus and be fed the meat of God's Word. They followed Jesus around for three days and end up in the wilderness short on food. It is here where the LORD performs a miracle of provision. He demonstrates HIs power, authority, and care by giving the people bread and fish that He creates and freely gives to everyone there (8:1-10). The disciples gather the leftovers and the people took a lot of the food home, no doubt giving thanks to the LORD for His bountifulness.
The Pharisees soon arrive on the scene (vv.11-12) and demand a sign from Jesus to prove HIs claim to be the Messiah. Really? They just saw a crowd of 4,000 or more leaving with loads of bread and fish graciously given to them by a supernatural act of God in the Flesh. This did not satisfy their obsessive demands that ironically would never convince them. It is incidents like this where Jesus knows that these religious hypocrites will never accept Him and that He does not want to waste valuable time arguing with them. It will produce nothing, and as God, He fully well knows that many of their hearts are already hardened beyond the point of repentance.
Jesus signals to the disciples that it is time to head back home. They board a boat and sail off, but they had forgotten for some reason to bring the food they had collected. The LORD starts to warn them of the "leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees" (8:15). Thinking that He was talking about literal bread and leaven, they do not understand His comment. Jesus rebuked them for their lack of understanding and inability to catch on to the deeper meaning of what He was trying to get across to them. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians were the three influential parties in first century Israel. While they were divergent from each other in terms of beliefs, all of them hated Jesus (Matthew 16:1; Mark 3:6; John 11:47-53) and would grow to hate the disciples as well when they started preaching Jesus to the people after His resurrection and ascension as seen in the book of Acts and beyond.
The "leaven" included both their doctrinal errors and personal hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). Their system of works-based righteousness and superficial extremism produced spiritual fraudulence that looked good on the outside but inwardly were "full of dead men's bones and corruption" (Matthew 23:27). The Sadducees "leaven" was based on rationalism, materialism, and pragmatism (it is good if it works). They denied key doctrine such as resurrection of the dead, life after death, angelic and demonic beings, and taught that the first five books of Moses were the only legitimate writings from God, thus denying the authority of the remaining Scriptures. The Herodians were those Jews who had adopted secular behavior and were friendly towards Rome and its deviant immoral behavior. All of these groups had a bad influence on the common people of Israel.