MARK 8:13



Concerning Jesus the Bible says in Mark 8:13-21, “And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he said unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not? And do you not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that you do not understand?”


Two things are expressed by Jesus in this passage: a warning to the disciples, and then an expression of surprise that they do not understand the symbolism that He used. Actually, Jesus gave two warnings. He warned the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees, and He also warned them of the leaven of Herod. The Pharisees were religious leaders. Herod was a political leader. There are two different kinds of leaven that apply to two different situations, but they are both leaven. The leaven first of all has a symbolism all its own. Leaven is like yeast: it’s what is put into bread to cause it to rise. If you put just a little bit of leaven into the dough, all the dough becomes affected by it.


The leaven of the Pharisees refers to something that got into the Pharisees and totally corrupted them. It may have started small, but when it was finished, it controlled and dominated and permeated everything that the Pharisees were. The leaven of the Pharisees refers to those who are involved in religious activities, but in the wrong way and for the wrong reason. The leaven of the Pharisees is human religion without true spirituality. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees: of human self-will, grabbing what it can grab in the context of organized religion. There are many in the clergy today of every denomination who did not beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. They took a little bit of the leaven unto them and it has permeated them every bit. Instead of being followers of God, they use their religious activities to pursue their own selfish will.


Of course, one does not have to be involved in organized religion to compromise and follow one’s selfish desires. Jesus spoke to those in secular careers and He said, “Beware of the leaven of Herod.” In the eyes of God there is no difference between the secular and the sacred. The person who has chosen a secular career is just as responsible before God to do the right thing as someone who has entered the clergy or a ministry. There is something that can corrupt the secular that Jesus called the leaven of Herod. Herod became ambitious. Herod desired to please man more than to please God. Herod’s priority was this life. Beware of the leaven of Herod. There are many in the business world and in politics who have compromised themselves because they have chosen a selfish and an ambitious way. If they do not choose to please God first of all, they will have been taken over by the leaven of the Herod. 


The Bible says in Mark 8:22-26, “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.” One thing that is different about the healing of this blind man compared to other healing that Jesus did is the fact that Jesus actually touched the man two times before the man could see perfectly well. The first time that Jesus touched the man, the man saw men as trees walking. In other words, he could see, but not as clearly as a normal person could see.


We do not know for sure why Jesus did this healing in this way because the Bible does not tell us, but there is one possible spiritual lesson that I can think of. Sometimes we come to the Lord more than once to get all that we really need. Some people have gone to the Lord for salvation, but those that know them wonder if they have ever gone to Him for anything else. A parent cannot go to the Lord just one time and ask for wisdom in the raising of their child. That parent may have to go to the Lord many times every single day in order to see clearly how to be the parent that they need to be. Beware of pride. Maybe you do not see as clearly as you need to on a certain matter. Maybe you need to be touched by the Lord anew.


In Mark 8:27-30 the Bible says, “And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answered and said unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.” At this time in the life of Jesus He had come to be very famous and very popular. Everyone was talking about Him. Everyone wanted to see Him. Great crowds gathered wherever he went. One of the problems that Jesus was having from this popularity was being able to find any time to rest or to be alone. That’s one of the reasons that in almost every incident in Mark that when Jesus helped someone or healed someone, He told them, “Tell no man.” Another reason was because of His humility. He did not come to the world to seek fame. He came to perfectly fulfill the will of the Father, something that each of us should also seek. As a young man at the prime of life, He was heading to the cross of Calvary and He knew it. He did not seek the fame that this world offers.


But He did ask the disciples, “Whom do men say that I am,” for a very important reason. This is a critically important question, and the answer to the question will decide the eternal destiny of the human race. Some people knew the answer and some did not. Jesus was famous, and He was well-known; but some people made a major mistake of misunderstanding how and why Jesus accomplished what He accomplished. From a human standpoint to say that Jesus was equivalent to Elijah or one of the prophets sounds like a compliment; but in fact, it is a major spiritual error. Only the Spirit of God can reveal to someone the true nature of Jesus. Anyone who does not recognize that Jesus is the divine Son of God is not of the truth, and they need to turn to God and find the truth before it is too late. Jesus asked the question, “Whom do men say that I am?” Peter had the right answer and hopefully you do also, “Thou art the Christ


The Bible says concerning Jesus in Mark 8:31-33, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” Remember that right now we are at the height of Jesus’ popularity. He knew that things would not stay that way, and He tried to prepare the disciples for the changes that were coming to His life and thus also to theirs. We know that Jesus suffered the torture of Roman crucifixion, and in this passage Jesus said that He would suffer “many things


The first thing that is mentioned that Jesus would suffer was rejection by the religious leaders. This rejection is what led to the final thing that Jesus suffered: his death. If the religious leaders had not rejected Him, He would not have been put to death. The reason that Jesus accepted these sufferings and this death was because of His love for the human race. That’s why He called Himself in this passage and elsewhere the “Son of man.” He was emphasizing His association with the human race and all of its sins and pains and sufferings. Isaiah 53:3-5 prophesied of the Messiah and said, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed


This is a subject that must be understood: of Jesus following the will of God, and the will of God taking Him to His destiny of great suffering, and evil men with their jealousy and hatred seeming to win the day. How do we accept this fact that evil men are sometimes given a free rein to do their evil deeds? The way to understand it is by understanding the vastness of the power of God. God is so powerful that He will somehow even turn the deeds of the wicked to serve His eternal purposes. God is so powerful that He will still hold men responsible for their deeds and for their choices, but God will not allow any action of man to subvert God’s plan for the universe. This principle is stated clearly in Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Concerning the crucifixion of Christ, somehow the plan of God was brought to fruition even using the wicked deeds of wicked men. In order to live by faith, we have to be able to believe the same things for the bad things that happen in our lives. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose


This is sometimes a difficult lesson to learn, but it is essential that we remember it when the difficult times come into our lives or else we will not live by faith, and we will be living our lives the way that people live who do not serve God. That’s the problem that Peter had. He was still evaluating things from too much of a human standpoint and not enough of a spiritual standpoint. That’s why Jesus said to him, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”


When Christian people are not spiritually minded, they can do a lot of damage. In this situation Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” The word “satan” means adversary. The ultimate adversary to the work of God is the devil himself. But anyone who is not spiritually minded, that includes believers and non-believers, will even without knowing it be working against the will of God. To be spiritually minded is life: to be humanistic is death. Jesus said, “He that gathers not with me scatters abroad           


Jesus made it clear what was going to happen to Him in this world and in this life. From a human standpoint it did not sound good, but Jesus came to do the will of the Father: not His own will. This principle of giving up one’s own will is central to serving God. To the degree that you go after your own will and your own desires and your own plans and your own intentions, you will be an adversary to the real work of God in this world. You must learn this if you are going to serve God. In Mark 8:34 Jesus said, “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”


Earlier in this chapter Jesus asked the question, “Whom do men say that I am.” You must get that answer right in order to have your eternal destiny settled. Now there is another important question, “Who wants to follow Jesus?” You must understand what it means to follow Jesus if you are going to find and fulfill God’s purpose for you in this life. One of the most important principles to following Jesus was given in this verse. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” The world will tell you to go after your own desires. Beware. If you do, your life will end up being empty and wasted. You are here for a purpose. You will only fulfill that purpose by learning to deny yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus.        





Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved