We are in effect at the mid-point of the Gospel here. The challenge then is whether or not people are beginning to see, hear and understand the truth about who Jesus is. In case the disciples have not learnt yet, Jesus offers a reprise of the miraculous feeding -this time with 4000 men (8:1-10). Even still this isn’t enough for the Pharisees who continue to demand signs (8:11-13).
Jesus likens the hard-hearted legalistic doubt of the Pharisees to leaven which contaminates and influences the whole batch of dough just as their hardness influenced the whole people. The disciples are bewildered and think Jesus is talking about ordinary bread. He draws out the lesson of the two feedings by encouraging them to consider the amount left over. Twelve and seven are symbolic numbers, the first represents God’s people (12 tribes) the second completeness (7 days of the week with God resting at the completion of creation). There is more than enough provision, protection, love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness for God’s people who find perfect fulness in Christ (8:14-21).
They meet a man who is blind. Jesus heals him but in two stages. At the first stage he is able to see a little but imperfectly. Given Jesus’ ability to heal perfectly we should see this as deliberate. The healing is an enacted parable showing how the disciples are beginning to see Jesus for who he is but imperfectly (8:22-26).
This is demonstrated in Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ. He is beginning to see who Jesus is. However, his attempt to correct Jesus and refusal to accept that Jesus’ kingdom will come by the way of the Cross shows that he hasn’t yet fully got it (8:27-9:1).
It is in this context that Jesus insists that following him means taking up our your Cross. He also sets out a promise/prophecy that there were those among the Crowd who would witness the powerful inauguration of his kingdom.
Big Theme: What stops us from seeing Jesus for who he is?
Questions to consider
- If asked “who do you say I am” by Jesus how would we answer?
- What does it mean to call Jesus “Christ”?
- Why did the disciples find it so hard to understand and accept Jesus’ teaching about the cross?
- What does Jesus mean when he talks about some seeing his kingdom come in power?