“Get yer bread heah!”

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 3.35.58 PMBy John Frye.

“Give us today our daily bread.”

Jesus cloned a bunch of bread. The disciples must have sounded like the Dr. Pepper man, “Get yer bread heah! Hot bread heah!” Let’s continue to explore the theme of bread (aka “loaves”) in Mark. In Mark 8:1-13 we read about the feeding of the 4000 (mainly Gentiles, though the audience was undoubtedly mixed; against Stein who sees Jesus back in Galilee feeding mostly Jews). In Mark the terms “bread” and “loaves” occur 17 times in Chapters 1-8. Only 4 times in chapters 14-16 (regarding the Passover Meal). Most of the uses occur in the two massive feedings of hungry people (6:30-44 and 8:1-13) and in Jesus’ conversation with his disciples about those feedings (8:17-21). While similar Markan terminology in both feedings leads some to conclude that there was only one feeding expressed two ways, many others see enough differences in the accounts to conclude there were, indeed, two different events where Jesus fed thousands of people with minimal food on hand. One major objection to the one feeding view is Jesus’ own questions to his Twelve about two different events (see Mark 8:17-21).

Jesus had some big shoes to fill.  The feeding of the 5000 in Mark 6 presents Jesus as the New Moses providing bread to God’s people in the wilderness. The hungry people were “like sheep without a shepherd,” i.e., explicit Old Testament phrases meaning “like people without a leader” (see these words from Moses in Num. 27:17 and echoed by Ezekiel in Ezek. 34:5). Jesus is the leader that Israel was always looking for. That is until their vision of leader got skewed by the compelling dynamics of power. The feeding in Mark 8 of mainly Gentiles in the area of Decapolis is prompted solely by Jesus’ compassion for hungry people. “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance” (8:2-3 NIV). Many have come from far away, i.e., Gentiles (see Ephesians 2:13). Jesus is the Deliverer for the Jews and the compassionate Savior for the Gentiles. Does Mark’s use of eúlogásas in 8: 7(“thanksgiving”) portend the eucharistic feast when Jews and Gentiles join in table fellowship?

“Hot bread heah!” Think about the amount of bread In the Jewish crowd 5000 men were fed, plus women and children. Grant each man a wife and at least 1 child. That is 15,000 loaves and left-overs. Now for the Decapolis feeding. Mark records there were 4000 men (8:9). Let’s do similar math. That means 12,000 loaves with huge baskets of left-overs. Combined, we have 27,000 loaves of bread. Why bring this up? Because of a statement Jesus’ disciples will soon make: “It is because we have no bread” (8:16). Oh, my. They couldn’t see the Baker because of the bread crumbs in their eyes. Jesus will ask, “Do your eyes fail to see?”

Unseeing eyes are critical eyes. For some reason, Mark pops up again a fussy argument still being carried by the Pharisees (8:11-13). These leaders need a sign they say. It’s not a miracle they want; it’s God’s seal of approval that fits into their judgmental categories. Theirs is a question to expose Jesus as a fraud, not to trust Jesus as Savior, much less as the Messiah. They want a God-validation for Jesus’ undeniable supernatural ministry because they have already concluded that Jesus is empowered by Satan (Mark 3:22). This testy question irked Jesus deeply. What Jesus simply wants is faith, as the Syrophoenician woman expressed. The answer Jesus gives to the religious police is to get away from them. And to get his disciples away from them (8:13). Jesus will give his Twelve some spiritual direction about the Pharisees and Herod. We’ll explore that next time.

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About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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