Jesus - The Truth and the Proof of the Gospel: Mark 8:1-26

Giovanni Lanfranco - Miracle of the Bread and Fish - WGA12454The Western, enlightened, scientific mind always wants proof. Especially when it comes to Jesus. Belief in Jesus and his work on the cross is often seen as intellectual suicide. Belief in Jesus is often seen as a setting aside of reason to go with your heart and believe in things that can’t possibly be true in our modern world. Recently I was privileged to preach at Risen Life Church on Mark 8:1-26 (Click HERE to listen to the sermon). In typical Markan style, Mark sandwiches a short story about the Pharisees (Mark 8:11-13) within a bigger drama about the disciples and their lack of understanding surrounding Jesus and his two feeding miracles; the feeding of the five-thousand (Mark 6:30-44) and the feeding of the four-thousand (Mark 8:1-10). The short story about the Pharisees highlights their hard-hearts that are leading to unbelief. This link between a hard-heart and unbelief is important as Jesus highlights the disciples lack of understanding in Mark 8:14-21.

The Pharisees demand Jesus to perform a sign in Mark 8:11 to test him. The Pharisees want Jesus to prove He is indeed God’s Son as He claims, the blessed Messiah. But Jesus will give no such sign (Mark 8:12). I fear the Pharisees demand for a sign is to close to our cultures desire for proof. But what proof would be enough? What are we looking for? What were the Pharisees looking for? If we are honest, there is no proof that would cause someone to believe in Jesus.

Two passages point to what the Pharisees may have been looking for. In John 6:30-36, 40-41, the Jews demand a sign from heaven. Something like the manna that God sent from heaven to feed the people of Israel during the Exodus. But Jesus responds in John 6:40-41 and says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Jesus is saying He is the sign. Similarly we can look at Luke 11:29-30. Here Jesus relates himself and his ministry to Jonah. He is the sign of Jonah to the current generation. Again, Jesus claims to be the very sign the Pharisees seek and yet as John 6:36 says the Jews have seen him and yet they do not believe. Their hearts are hard. And so are the hearts of our generation.

If you are looking for proof-positive that Jesus is who He says He is, you will never find the lynchpin you are looking for. Sure, there is plenty of evidence that makes belief in Jesus not only intellectual responsible, but probable. It is the hardness of our hearts that keeps many from embracing Christ. Instead of looking for more proof, look within and examine your heart. Jesus claims to be the truth and the Proof of the Gosepl. John 6:40 tells us that anyone who looks to Christ and believes in him will have eternal life. Jesus is the truth of the Gospel. Furthermore, Jesus is the image of the invisible God, all the fullness of God can be seen in Him (Colossians 1:15-20). Jesus is God’s revelation of Himself. He is proof of a loving and saving God that has entered our world in human flesh. Look no further than Christ.

It is interesting to note that miracles never beget faith in the first eight chapters of Mark. Rather, faith in Jesus begets miracles. Jesus asks the same of us. Believe in Me and see if I don’t do amazing things in your life and in your world.

Finally, Jesus does something pretty amazing in Mark 7 and 8. Mark throughout chapters 1-8 wants to show through Jesus ministry and life that he is the Christ and he wants the reader to respond in repentance and belief in Christ (Mark 1:14-15). In Mark 4:10-12 Jesus explains the purpose of his parable teaching quoting Isaiah6:9-10. Here He says that the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to the disciples and yet there are others outside that will neither see nor hear the truth. However, throughout Mark 1-8 the disciples have shown nothing but misunderstanding and a minimal to absence of faith in Christ. But notice what Jesus does in Mark 7:31-37 and Mark 8:22-26. Surrounding a passage that highlights the disciples lack of understanding are two important miracles; the healing of a deaf man and the healing of a blind man. Notice that these miracles occur right before Peter’s confession of Christ in Mark 8:29. I believe these two miracles show us in the midst of the disciples lack of understanding Jesus is healing the disciples and bringing about faith. Their eyes and ears are being opened to hear the Gospel.

Will you allow your ears and eyes to be healed by Jesus so that you can confess him?

*I cover many other points and ideas found in Mark 8:1-26 in my full sermon. Particularly, I take a small excurses discussing epistemology, which is basically the study of ‘how we know what we know.’ I take a brief look at the idea of ‘witness’ being one of the foundational aspects of how we obtain knowledge. If you have found this brief excerpt interesting I encourage you to listen to the whole sermon.


*The image above was used in accordance with the licensing agreements of WikiCommons and in no way reflects the views of the artist that produced the image.
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