Unseen Signs

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

Mark 8:1-13

To me the most amazing part of this story is the disciples saying “How are we supposed to feed these people?” They had already seen Jesus feed 5,000 people, yet they didn’t understand that He could do it again. Why?

I think the answer is surprisingly simple. See, the disciples are not that much different from the Pharisees in this story. Remember, back at the end of chapter 6 their hearts were hardened. So at this time, like the Pharisees, they don’t really understand what they are seeing or what it means. That’s why the disciples don’t have faith Jesus can feed 4,000 people and the Pharisees ask for a sign. They don’t have faith, so they can’t understand the miracles and signs they are seeing.

This gets me thinking. I’ve over said myself (and heard other Christians say) that, for one reason or another, miracles don’t really happen anymore. But as far as I know Jesus (or anyone else) never said that miracles would cease after the time of the disciples. It is much more likely that miracles are happening all around me and I simply don’t have the faith to see or understand them. We often talk about “miracles of science” or “miracles of modern medicine” as if God had nothing to do with them! It’s clear that I, like the Pharisees, need to open my heart and mind to the possibility that there are signs all around me.

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