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Mark 121 - Understand

They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Mark 8:16-21

What do we do when we live through something that we don’t understand? What’s our response when life throws us a curveball? Who do we turn to when we get confused?

If you’re like most people, you turn to those who have influence over you.

· Your friends – just like The Big Bang Theory, you sit around with your friends, discussing what’s going on while everyone adds their perspective, no matter how stupid or funny it is.

· Outside experts – there’s absolutely a place where we need to seek professional help. Whether it’s for physical, mental, emotional help, financial or insurance advice. In Sleepless in Seattle[1] Jonah calls Dr. Marsha Fieldstone to talk about his dad’s loneliness.

· The outside world – today, this happens through all sorts of social media outlets. Post something on Facebook and the world isn’t your oyster, it’s your dumping ground where about two-billion people have the opportunity to unload into your life. In that same scene from Sleepless in Seattle, there is a segment where listeners can call in to give their take and offer advice, no matter how weird or wrong it might be[2].

The disciples get together and start talking about what Jesus just said. They don’t just ask it once; they keep asking and discussing. They deliberate about this over and over.

Now, it’s reasonable that Jesus knew what he said and what it meant, but they didn’t go to him. Instead, they tried to noodle it out without him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m right there with them. Life goes south, things go bump, or fall off a cliff. So, do I go to the one who’s in control? Do I run to the one who has all the information, all the insight? Do I run to the one with all the love, concern, and care to wrap me up in his strong arms?

That would be a big, fat, negatory. No.

I look to myself, my own mind, my own thinking, and reasoning. I try to figure things out by myself. And when that doesn’t work, I turn to people around me, people I trust, people who’ve had similar experiences. But I almost always find myself not measuring up. A day late and a dollar short.

Jesus sees their discussions and doesn’t swoop down with the answer in a neat, three-point outline. No, he does what God almost always does. He asks questions. As a matter of fact, he asks six questions.

When God asks questions, it’s never to get information. It’s for us to get information, insight. Rather than give them the answer on a silver platter, he gives them the privilege and opportunity to work it out. And we need to do the same thing.

Yes, we could just give people the answers. It would be simple, efficient, and dead wrong. We don’t retain what we don’t work hard for. If it comes too easily, we treat it as cheap, something that can be thrown away.

But if we have to work for it, struggle for and with it, they we really got it and it’s ours. If it takes time, energy, focus, and repetition, then we have it for good. It becomes a part of us. Like butter on hot toast, it melts into the crevices so that you can’t tell where the bread ends, and the butter begins.

Jesus repeats their question and then goes to the heart of the matter – their hearts are hard. Their hearts once were soft but started to become hard some time ago. Their hearts have run the race towards hardness and have crossed the finish line.

He comes to the end of his frustration and disappointment with the disciples, talking to them as much as he’s talking to himself. Repeating the words, you still do not understand.

I know that Jesus said, “Do you still not understand?” to me many times. His frustration level must have erupted a lot. And yet, knowing exactly who I am, what I was going to do, what I was going to say, what I was going to think, he still died for me.

He knows all the same things about you too. Our response is thankful worship, honest confession, and renewed conviction and commitment to move forward with him.

Hallelujah, what a savior!

[1] [2]


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