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Who Do You Say I Am?
The Gospel of Mark
Beware the Leaven

This morning we are in Mark chapter 8. We are getting close to the heart of the Gospel of Mark.  We are getting close to discovering the real purpose of Christ’s coming.  Those of you who are sharp, know that our question of the year – “Who do you say that I am?” – is at the end of chapter 8.  Mark has been doing amazing theology and it is about to get even deeper.

--Mark 6 Jesus is the almighty YWHW who feeds manna to his people; who shows his glory by passing by the disciples on the water; who is the evgw, eivmi I AM. Chapter 6 Jesus is the Jewish God YWHW.  Got it.  --Mark 7 – Jesus is not just the old Jewish God, Jesus is the YWHW of all peoples.  Jesus offers the bread crumbs to the Gentile woman whose daughter was unclean!  She was declared clean!  Then to make sure we got that all people are clean Jesus travels to the Decapolis to spit and open the mouth of a Gentiles mute!  Chapter 7 the Gentiles speak that Jesus is the YWHW of all peoples! 


The tension is building.  The theology is moving.  We are not doing laps.  We are headed somewhere.  I can hardly wait to get to the end of chapter 8 to find out where all this theology is going. Let’s move…


Mark 8:1-9 In those days,


One of the things we have discovered is where Jesus is important.  Jesus moves around to teach his lessons.  At the end of chapter 7 Jesus is in the Gentile area of the Decapolis … Jesus is still in the Decapolis when chapter 8 begins.




Mark 8:1-9 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.  And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away."  And his disciples answered him, "How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?"  And he asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven."  And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd.  And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them.  And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.  And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.  


“Wait, wait.  We have heard this story before.  Jesus fed the 5,000 just two chapters ago. Why are you telling the same story again?”  Great question. Jesus feeds the crowds again; this time Jesus feeds 4,000. But this time Jesus feeds the Gentiles!  Bam!


Note the number of baskets left over in the feeding of the 5,000 is 12… the number of the tribes of Israel.  In the feeding of the 4,000 there are seven baskets left…. The number of fullness!  All the peoples of the world are being fed by the manna of YWHW!


The invasion of YWHW came first to the Jews and then and then and then… the invasion is to go to the rest of the world!  This Gentiles is happy!


Don’t forget the 3 days, clue it is the first of two bookends.  Jesus begins to move in verse 10.




Mark 8:10-12 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, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.  And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."   


Immediately, the Pharisees are looking for a sign… seriously?  He just fed 4,000 with the manna of YWHW.  Have you forgotten unclean spirits cast out, floating pigs; the lame dancing, mutes singing, deaf listening… Pharisees go back and check Isaiah 35 again. 


Isaiah 35:4-6 Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;


Mark says Jesus sighs deeply in his spirit… It disappoints Jesus that these knuckleheads can’t see YWHW in the miracles fulfilling Isaiah 35.  The Pharisees’ theology is blinding them to the truth standing right in front of them.


Let’s keep moving.  We are going someplace. 




Mark 8:13-15 And Jesus left them, (the Pharisees with their bad theology) got into the boat again, and went to the other side.  Now the disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." 


Jesus, still feeling the deep sigh in his spirit, warns his disciples of the wrong theology of the Pharisees and the people like Herod

--The Pharisees’ theology taught that if they lived holy enough, if they followed all the external regulations of the Law carefully enough, if they could get the outside right; then YWHW would come and set up a Jewish nation that would rule the world.

--Herod’s theology was if he could get enough power together, if he could get the Romans to back him, if he could get his politics working, then he could rule the world, or at least his corner of it.


But both of those theologies are wrong.  The leaven of religion or the leaven of politics is not the power of the kingdom!


But we are moving toward the power of the kingdom.




Mark 8:16-21 And the disciples began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.  And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve."  "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"


The disciples, like us, too often don’t get it.  It is not about the food.  It is not about having a good lunch.  The kingdom of heaven is about so much more.  Jesus is telling them how that if they are just going to be focused on the what’s for lunch, how to satisfy their hunger; just the physical stuff around them; they are missing the point, the power, of the kingdom.  Jesus says I’ll take care of you.  Remember the 5,000?  Remember the 4,000?  I am the compassion LORD.  Open your eyes there is so much more going on in the kingdom!  The leaven of leaven is not the way of the kingdom.


Open your eyes…



(just like the deaf guy of chapter 7)

Mark 8:22-25 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to Jesus a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.  And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, but they look like trees, walking."  Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.


Open my eyes to see Jesus as YWHW!

Open my eyes to see Jesus as YWHW of all!  

Open my eyes to see the way of the kingdom!

Open my eyes to see Jesus clearly!


This the transition point in the Gospel of Mark… now we are about to see who Jesus is.  Who do you say I am… we are about to SEE!


There is no going back from this point onward…




Mark 8:27-30 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?"  And they told him, "John the

Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets."  And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ."  And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.  


That is true, but it is like seeing Jesus as a tree.  

--Yes, Jesus is like John the Baptist, and Elijah.  Jesus is a prophet who brings the Word of the LORD.  But Jesus is so much more.  

--Yes, Jesus is the Christ, that closer to who he is… the Messiah the one who is supposed to deliver the Jews.  But that is still just seeing Jesus as a tree. Jesus is so much more.  


And now Mark is about to give us some theology that will change who we are.  It reveals who Jesus is and reveals who we should become.  


Jesus spits on our eyes and reveals to us who he is!




Mark 8:31 And Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 


The way of the Christ is the cross.  Who are you Jesus?  The YWHW who is killed to be the power of the kingdom!  The One who will be resurrected in…. three days!  


Now we begin to see who Jesus is! Now the image of the Christ, the YWHW, the YWHW of all peoples is to suffer, be rejected by the authorities and be killed to rise again.  Now we are seeing who Jesus is.


No that can’t be right! Peter knows what the Christ is supposed to do.  A Christ is supposed to be victorious over the Romans…. The Christ is supposed to be a ruler; a power; the KING!


Mark 8:32-33 And Jesus said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."


Some of the toughest words ever spoken between Jesus and a disciple… “Get behind me Satan!”  Satan was even yet tempting Jesus through Peter to forsake his mission; to forsake his destiny; to forsake his power!  But Jesus set Peter straight.  Men thing of power, and religion; and lunch… but the way of the kingdom is…


Mark 8:34 And Jesus called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”


The way of the kingdom is the power of the cross.  Deny yourself and take up HIS cross.  There is power in a sacrificial life!  Jesus set the example.  We follow Jesus.  We deny ourselves! 


Let’s put Mark chapter 6-8 theology together…

--Jesus came as YWHW to feed his people the children of Israel. --But he also came to feed the doggies, us Gentiles. Who are no longer unclean!  Jesus is YWHW of all!

--Jesus fed the 4,000… that’s the rest of the world!  

--The kingdom of heaven has come to restore all of creation!

--The Power kingdom does not rest in holiness that is the leaven of the Pharisees.

--The Power of the kingdom does not rest in political or military power that is the leaven of Herod.

--The Power of the kingdom is not providing lunch to the world that is the leaven of selfishness.


The kingdom is about taking up HIS cross in sacrificial love!  


This is the heart of what it means to be a Christian; a follower of Jesus.  Who do you say that I am?  You are the YWHW who went to the cross to restore all the earth!  The way of the kingdom is the power of the cross!


Tim Stidham

June 25, 2017

Los Alamos Church of Christ


Los Alamos Church of Christ - 2323 Diamond Drive - Los Alamos, New Mexico - 87544 - (505) 695.5875