top of page

A Building Tension

Updated: Feb 22, 2021


Have you ever walked into a room and just felt the tension? We may have heard the expression, "The tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife." In Mark 8 we really feel the tension that is developing between competing views of God's kingdom and the kingdoms of the world. In this chapter is the account of Jesus feeding the four thousand. However, this account is connected to the larger narrative that we find in Mark's Gospel.

Mark 8: 17-21 (New King James Version)

"But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”

Jesus is using these miracles to teach and instruct about His kingdom. The blind man (ref. Mk. 8:22-26) is connected to this same thought and this same teaching. And it relates to this tension that has been building in Mark's Gospel; a tension that is leading us to the cross of Jesus and our decision to follow Him.


It is very easy for us to look critically at others. In our day today, we seem to be a culture that is divided along so many issues. Political issues, racial issues, even within the church we seem to divide along many different lines. As Christians, we need to carefully guard ourselves against divisions and even work to restore and heal divisions and barriers. The apostle Paul says in (Phil. 2:4) that we are not to look out for our own interest but for the interest of others.

Jesus looks at the multitude who had been with Him for three days, He has compassion for them.

Mark 8:2-3

“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.”

Jesus is filled with "tenderness" for them. He sees their need and understands the position they are in. Sending them away with nothing to eat would result in some not being able to make it back to their homes safely.

On an earlier occasion in (Mk. 6:34), Jesus feeds five thousand.

Mark 6:34-37

"And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

Again we see that Jesus is moved with compassion for people, they are like "sheep not having a shepherd” (ref. Mk. 6:34).

Do we identify with the multitudes? Do we see our need? Without the compassion of Jesus, we are destitute. In (Rom. 6) the apostle teaches us that without Jesus and His sacrifice we are in bondage to sin, sin that leads to death. But through obedience to the good news of Jesus (the gospel), we are set free from our bondage to sin. We are set free so that we can serve the living God.

Without the compassion of Jesus and His love for us, we are in a position of destitution. We are without hope. However, like the multitudes, Jesus does not send us away. He does not push us away to fend for ourselves in the wilderness. Jesus sees us and has compassion for us, He supplies for our need.

Knowing the compassion of Jesus that we have experienced, how do we view others? Are we critical, are we cynical? Do we see others as Jesus would see them? Do we have compassion for them?


Jesus supplies with abundance. In both of the accounts where Jesus feeds multitudes, there is always plenty left over. Jesus does not run short of resources.

Mark 6:43 "...they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish."

Mark 8:8 "...they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments."

What strikes me is that over and over again in God's kingdom we see that His kingdom is a kingdom of abundance. In both of these accounts, the amount of bread and fish would have not been nearly enough to satisfy the crowds or fulfill their needs. However, with Jesus, there is abundance. Jesus meets us where we are with what we have and He supplies what we are lacking.

So often what hinders people from obeying the gospel is that we think everything needs to be perfect. How would Jesus accept me with my sin? How would Jesus welcome me into His kingdom (His church) knowing my past? We think that we need to "clean ourselves up" before we come to the One who makes us clean. He supplies what we cannot, He supplies what we are lacking. We can't make ourselves "clean" enough. We cannot live a life of moral perfection. Jesus supplies grace and mercy where we are lacking.

Romans 5:8-11

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."

There is, though, a trap we can fall into. Knowing Jesus died for our sin and relying on His abundance, His grace, and His mercy for the forgiveness of sins, we can begin to rely on our resources and fail to trust in His abundance. This becomes following a check-list and keeping the rules. God has created us for good works. (ref. Eph. 2:10) We are to walk in them. We are to live our lives faithfully to the Lord. So it’s not just that anything goes and following and applying God's word does not matter. However, if our salvation is hanging on our merits, on a checklist, keeping the rules, and following the list, we are missing His story of grace. Jesus abundantly supplies for our needs.

Sharing In The Kingdom

Let's go back to our text and notice another very key point.

Mark 8:6-7

"So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them."

We have talked in earlier lessons about how the Lord partners with people to accomplish His purposes. Again we see that He does so here. He gave the loaves of bread and the fish to the disciples to distribute among the people. The Lord partners with His people, His church, to accomplish His purposes. As Christians, we are to take the gifts we have received from the Lord and share them among those who have need. We are to share His compassion as we continue the work of His kingdom. Jesus is not only concerned with meeting the needs of others, but He is also concerned with drawing His followers into His work so His compassion and love can be extended to the world.

Don't Miss What Jesus Is Doing

It can be easy for us to miss what Jesus is doing. Jesus said to His disciples in (Mark 8:21) "How is it you do not understand?”. Despite witnessing the miracles of Jesus and listening to His words as He taught, the disciples were still struggling to understand what Jesus was doing. We can be blinded by our preconceived understandings of Jesus and miss what Jesus is doing. As Christians, we are to be those engaged in His work, who share His compassion, relying on His abundance as we share His kingdom.




Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


bottom of page