What's It Going To Take?
Go ahead and open your Bibles to Mark 8:1-21 this morning.
As you are doing that, you obviously realize we are continuing our study in the book of Mark this morning.
As we have been going through and seeing what the Bible teaches us about how Jesus lived and taught and ministered while he was on earth, have you found yourself wishing you had been there?
Some of you have traveled to Israel and seen the places where many of these events took place, which would be incredible.
However, can you imagine having actually been there to see Jesus walking on the water or healing the deaf man or multiplying the loaves and the fish?
It would have been so much easier to believe it, wouldn’t it?
I mean, if you had been there, if you had seen it with your eyes and heard with your ears, you would have no problems believing that God is who he says he is, right?
Well, as we will see this morning, you’d be wrong.
Jesus has been doing incredible miracles, teaching powerful truths, and still, even his closest followers, the disciples, don’t understand who he really is.
In fact, nobody who should understand seems to believe that Jesus is who he says he is.
Do you struggle with believing that Jesus is who he said he is?
You may be here, and you are new to church and still trying to figure out if you believe any of this.
You could also be here and have been in church your entire life, but you’ve never really trusted that Jesus is who he says he is.
You might also be here this morning, and although you’ve put your trust in Jesus to save you, you are up against a tough spot, and it has you wondering about what you really believe.
If you’re in any of those categories, or you have doubts about Jesus, let me ask you: What is it going to take for you to believe Jesus is who he said he is?
Mark strings several stories together this morning to show two different groups of people just didn’t get it.
As we talk through them, listen to see if their objections or their reasons for not believing match up with yours.
If so, be willing to surrender them today so you can either begin a relationship with Christ or move forward with him in faith.
Let’s read Mark 8:1-21.
We find two different reasons for not believing Jesus this morning.
The first reason we don’t believe is…
1) We don’t know if he’ll come through.
1) We don’t know if he’ll come through.
This was the problem the disciples had. Go back to the start of chapter 8:1-10.
This story sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Although there are a number of parallels between this and the feeding of the 5000, there are enough differences that this must be a different event.
When he fed the 5000, he was in Jewish territory. Now, he is likely still in the Decapolis, ministering among the Gentiles.
They have been there for days, unlike the first feeding miracle.
Isn’t it incredible, then, just how badly the disciples fail the test?
Jesus asks them almost the same question in the same situation, but they still don’t understand.
By the way, isn’t it amazing to see Jesus’ compassion here? He was motivated to meet the need out of compassion for people who didn’t understand him and would soon reject him!
Interesting thing to note: At the end of verse 8, we find out they collected 7 baskets of leftovers. That seems like less than what they collected after the 5000, but actually, the word is different. These baskets may have been big enough to hold a person, so there were likely even more leftovers this time.
Jesus clearly demonstrated that he was the special Messiah God had promised, and even proved that he could create bread and fish miraculously, and the disciples missed it.
When we jump down to Mark 8:14-21, we see that they still didn’t get it.
When he fed the 5000, the twelve baskets left over may have pointed to the twelve tribes of Israel, highlighting that Jesus was the Messiah they promised. Now that he feeds 4000 Gentiles, the seven baskets show that he is the Messiah for the entire world.
Yet the disciples still didn’t see it!
How could they be so dense? How could they miss what was right in front of them?
Because they are human, just like we are.
This was life for them. At this point, they hadn’t put the pieces together.
They didn’t have the benefit we do of seeing all this written down, condensed where we can easily sort back through.
Jesus had done a lot of cool things, but they didn’t realize who he was, so it is as though they didn’t think he could or would keep it up.
Is that you this morning?
Maybe you have been a Christian for a while, and you have seen God do some cool stuff, but you’re just not sure if he will do it again.
Why? Is it because you think that God doesn’t work like that anymore?
Let me give you some verses that might help:
“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man, that he might change his mind. Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?
Maybe your issue isn’t that you think God has changed. Maybe deep down, you really wonder if God is able to do what he says he can.
You wouldn’t come right out and say it, but it’s how you feel.
Here’s some more verses for you:
Indeed, the Lord’s arm is not too weak to save, and his ear is not too deaf to hear.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.
Are you seeing a pattern here? God doesn’t change, and he isn’t too weak or too tired to do what you need him to do.
Perhaps your problem is that you don’t think you’re worth it. You haven’t been good enough, tried hard enough, given enough, worked enough, and so God shouldn’t come through for you.
Yes, it is true that disobedience can hinder what God is doing in our lives and bring his discipline, but also remember that whenever God works, it is always him doing something we don’t deserve!
For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God met our greatest need while we were still helpless and his enemies. If he did that then, then why won’t he come through now?!
if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
We didn’t deserve him to save us then, and we still don’t deserve it now. Yet, in his grace, he works time and time again to rescue us, strengthen us, work through us, and prove that he is who he says he is.
The disciples didn’t understand that. Although they saw Jesus clearly demonstrate that he was the Messiah by providing baskets and baskets of leftovers, both for Jews and Gentiles, they still.
Look at what God has done around you. Think back to the comfort he has given you, the fact that he sustains your very life, that he provides breath and water and air for you. Remember the times when you have seen him answer prayer and show up in big ways, and believe that he is who he says he is!
Even more than that, remember that he showed his love for you by dying in your place!
He is the all-powerful, wonderful, awe-inspiring, majestic God of the universe who deserves your love and your life and your sacrifice.
What’s it going to take to get you to believe he is who he says he is?
You might be here, though, and as I talk, you can’t remember a time when God answered a prayer or he did something extraordinary in your life.
If that’s the case, your objection might fit more with the second response:
2) God isn’t acting like we think he should.
2) God isn’t acting like we think he should.
When Jesus cautioned the disciples, he cautioned them against “the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod”
When the Bible speaks of “leaven” or “yeast”, it is almost always talking about evil influence.
How many of you have ever made bread by hand? You know that it just takes a little bit of yeast, and before long, the entire lump of dough is rising and full of it.
That’s the picture the Bible uses of the influence of sin. It may seem to start out small, but it spreads.
Okay, but what in the world is the “leaven of the Pharisees and Herod”?
If you’ve been with us in our walk through Mark to this point, you might be surprised to see Jesus lump the two together.
However, they both had the same problem: they didn’t believe Jesus was who he said he was because he wasn’t doing what they wanted him to do.
Go back to Mark 8:11-13 to see this.
We have to understand a little bit about what the Pharisees were asking.
They weren’t just asking Jesus to do another miracle; they were specifically asking for a sign that would prove that God the Father was with him and he really was the Messiah.
Jesus had already proved that he was the Messiah in many ways, but they wanted just one more, because what Jesus was doing didn’t line up with who they thought the Messiah was supposed to be.
They couldn’t believe Jesus because he didn’t fit their box.
They had read and studied the Bible for years leading up to this and knew it backwards and forwards, yet at the heart level, they were so proud of what they thought they knew that they missed when the Messiah was sitting right in front of them.
They just needed one more sign, one more answer, one more indication, but the truth was that he had already given them more than enough.
On the other side, you have Herod Antipas. Remember him? He’s the one who killed John the Baptist because his wife was mad that John said their incestuous relationship was wrong.
Not the most upstanding citizen by an means.
Remember that Mark told us in Mark 6:14-16 that he thought Jesus was just John come back from the dead.
How was this guy like the Pharisees? Because he was still looking for Jesus to do what he wanted, not to understand who he really was.
Luke spells that out in his Gospel. When Jesus is dragged before Herod during the trials the night before his death, Herod tries to get Jesus to perform, just like the Pharisees:
Herod was very glad to see Jesus; for a long time he had wanted to see him because he had heard about him and was hoping to see some miracle performed by him. So he kept asking him questions, but Jesus did not answer him.
Disappointed, Herod ridicules Jesus and sends him back down the road to Pilate, where he would eventually be killed.
Both their errors were the same! The Pharisees wanted one more sign because Jesus didn’t fit who they thought God should be. Herod wanted one more sign because he wanted to be entertained.
Neither wanted to put their faith and trust in the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world, who was standing right in front of them.
Is that you this morning? You may be a very spiritual person, but you struggle with Christianity because you don’t always like what you see of God in the Bible, so you prefer to dismiss those parts and make God look like you want him.
Can I as lovingly and gently as possible tell you this morning that you and I have no right to do that? When we trim God down to the size we want him to be, we are just like the people bowing down to golden statues around the world.
A trimmed down God is not the God of the Bible!
In the same way, if you are looking for God to entertain you, to make you happy, to wave his magic wand over your life and make it all better, you are not worshiping the God of the Bible.
After all, isn’t life all about being happy? So if Christianity is right, shouldn’t it make me happy?
That’s the same unbelief that Jesus warned his disciples about.
You want to believe in a God you can always explain and understand, and he isn’t!
There is major consolation in that, though.
Do you know everything? Do you always know what is best? Do you always know how to handle every situation?
Wouldn’t you expect that if God is really God, he would know things we don’t and sometimes act in ways we don’t understand?
So, then, what’s it going to take for you to believe?
If you’ve been in church for a while, you know the stories. You know how he loves you, died for you, rose from the dead, and gives you new life.
Are you going to trust him to do what only he can and be who he says he is?
He won’t always work like you want when you want, but you can trust him to do what is right.
So, why not commit to believing him today? Commit your trust to him.