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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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This weekend, we continued our study through the Gospel of Mark as Pastor Doug Sauder shared from Mark 8:1–21. In this message, we saw Jesus perform another amazing miracle by feeding 4,000 and then go on to explain the dangers of hypocrisy and bad teaching.
This week, we invite you into deeper conversation on Mark 8:1–21. If you missed the message or want a refresher, click here to watch it in its entirety.
Below, you’ll find some key questions to reflect on and consider in your group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, some action points fo the week, and a look ahead.
Ice Breaker: If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Getting the Conversation Going: Didn’t we already read this a few weeks ago? Remote place, Jesus filled with compassion, a few measly scraps of bread, a huge miracle! Chronologically, this miracle of the feeding of the 4,000 happened somewhere around four to six months later after Jesus fed the 5,000. In addition, here Jesus was preaching to and feeding an entirely different group of people. Whereas the 5,000 (which was likely closer to 20,000 total people) and the teaching that preceded it was done amongst the Jewish people, this feeding (believed to be close to 18,000 total people) was in Gentile (non-Jewish) territory to a Gentile audience. But the real question is why did the disciples—who were present at the first miracle and both distributed the miraculous meal and collected the leftovers—react the way they did when Jesus expressed His desire to feed the crowd? Mark 6 provides the answer!
In Mark 6:51–52 (NIV), we’re told that the disciples “had not understood about the loaves” because their hearts were hardened. Their hearts were dull to it; they missed it. And we often do the same! We sometimes doubt God despite all He’s done for us in the past. Even after all we’ve seen, lived through, and heard we easily forget and grow dull to His power, provision, and the work He’s doing all around us and right in front of us!
As believers, it’s important to remind ourselves constantly of His power and remember His work so as to not develop a callousness to what He’s doing right now. It’s important we never lose the awe, wonder, and perception of His hand at work in our lives. This means we must stay attuned to the Spirit through devotion, prayer, and the study of the Word! It’s why things like communion are so important; it’s why sharing our testimony, having fellowship with other believers, and participating in His work through outreach and missions is so important. Otherwise, we may end up missing what He’s doing and end up experiencing crises of faith. Why? Because if we missed or developed that dullness or callousness to what He did before, we will miss what He’s doing right now and may struggle to stay strong in the future.
“How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?”—Mark 8:4 (NIV)
Discussion Question 1: How do you think the disciples could have forgotten all that Jesus did just a few months earlier?
Isaiah 43:25 (NIV): “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
Hebrews 10:16–17 (NIV): “‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’”
Jeremiah 31:34 (NIV): “’No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”
Discussion Question 2: Why do you think we’re so quick to forget how God has worked and provided in our lives and in the lives of others when we enter into challenging and difficult situations?
We should be glad Jesus forgets our mishaps, but let us not forget Jesus’s miracles.
Discussion Question 3: What are some ways you can avoid becoming dull or callous to what He’s done and is doing? How can this help you in the future?
The Yeast of the Pharisees: After the miracle, the disciples and Jesus were back on the water travelling. Apparently, they were low on bread, so Jesus took the opportunity to say, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” What’s He saying? Jesus is warning them, as one commentator put it, “about the Pharisees’ teachings and treachery now that He had incurred their wrath by exposing and condemning them publicly.” How does Jesus do this? By using a metaphor comparing their hypocrisy and wicked hearts to the leaven hidden in dough.
Here, the word leaven or yeast is being equated by Jesus to doctrine and teachings. The thing about yeast is that once you introduce it to the party, it doesn’t just rise in one isolated area. It permeates the entire dough ball, ferments it, and changes its overall structure.
Humans are a lot like a dough ball in that our bread (our heart and viewpoint) is influenced by the doctrines, teachings, ideologies, philosophies, positions, propaganda, conspiracies, theories, and opinions we sprinkle in and allow to ferment. Gradually, the yeast we sprinkle in can change the overall structure and composition of our faith and worldview. And sadly, most of the time it happens in such a way we don’t even realize it.
This is why we’re told, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” 1 John 4:1 (HCSB). We should evaluate all messages, media, news, and entertainment, consider the source, and reflect on what we’re letting into the dough ball of our hearts in context of the Word and the doctrines established by Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church. We need to critically think, pray constantly, remember and remind ourselves of the truth of the Word, and invite the Spirit to reveal truth into what is being sprinkled into us. This may end up requiring some work on our part to sift out the yeast; it may mean removing certain practices, unfollowing certain voices, or even seeking biblical counseling. But it’s so important we all do it as believers in order to remain firmly in the truth of Christ.
Discussion Question 4: What can you do to avoid forgetting sound doctrine?
This Week: Do a deep dive into the dough ball of your heart and mind. Is there any leaven from the world, from other ideologies, from politically charged movements, pseudo-spiritual or self-help philosophy, or any legalistic or progressive false doctrines? Chances are we all have some worldly yeast particles sprinkled in. Pray and seek the Spirit’s wisdom on what is not of God and how to surrender it to His truth.
Pray It Out: Share prayer requests in your group. Write down the requests of your group members, spend time praying over these requests, and keep praying individually over them throughout the week.
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This weekend is Mother’s Day! Whether you’re a mom, or have a mom or mom-like mentor you want to celebrate, we want to honor them with you. Let’s come together for this special service to admire our moms and worship our God.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.