Know the Lord’s Abundant Provision | Mark 8:16–21

16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Unfortunately, the disciples missed the point of Jesus’s words in the previous two verses.  He warned them of the devastating spiritual effects of the kind of thinking employed by either Herod or the Pharisees.  However, because He used leaven as an example, the disciples were instead thinking about their lack of food.  Jesus chastises them for being too concerned about the temporal, material needs of life. 

They haven’t been thinking about what the Lord has done.  When Jesus asks why they are talking about bread, He’s not been gentle—He’s launching into a series of questions meant to rebuke the disciples.  He asks them if they lack perception, understanding, and a soft heart.  Perhaps they are deaf and blind.  Perhaps they’ve grown forgetful!  Clearly, something must be wrong with them, because they’ve been exposed to enough.  Their problem is that they simply aren’t thinking about Jesus and His works—they’re too focused on the one and only loaf of bread they have left (v. 14).

They haven’t been thinking about how much the Lord has done.  Since they have had a lapse in memory, He refreshes them with the facts of the two miraculous feedings in vv. 19–20.  In fact, the Greek uses the two different terms for “baskets” found in each respective account.  These facts remind them of the overflowing abundance of His provision.

The point of all this isn’t to say that we’re wrong for having practical needs; we shouldn’t fear loaves of bread (Mt 16:12).  However, it’s wrong to be so focused on those needs that we grow anxious and forgetful of the truth of Scripture.  As Matthew 6:31–33 says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

As He asks them, “Do you not yet understand?”

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