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The Feeding of the Four Thousand

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2020 12:01 am

The Feeding of the Four Thousand

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 15, 2020 12:01 am

Just after Jesus miraculously fed another great crowd, the Pharisees came demanding more signs from Him. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition of the gospel of Mark to identify the dangers of a hardened heart.

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Jesus had been going through this region with a blaze of miracle everywhere he goes. He's raising the dead. He's giving sight to the blind hearing to the deaf, and so on. But remember that these Pharisees were convinced that those works.

Jesus had performed by the power of Satan raising the dead. Even the blind restoring the deaf Jesus prove that he was the son of God. The Pharisees actually demanded another sign and refused to believe as we continued on to RC school series from the Gospel of Mark will be in chapter 8 where Jesus has just performed the miracle of feeding 4000 people with seven loaves of bread.

At first glance when we listen to the text that I just read to you. We must stop for a moment to think what's happening here.

The sum copy scribe in the early centuries get mixed up on the pages of his manuscript and repeated the same story that we just looked out a few weeks ago in the story of the feeding of the 5000.

Many critical scholars have assumed just that. About the text for the simple reason that there's so many similarities in this narrative that we found already in the story of the feeding of the 5000 on both occasions. There was a vast multitude there would been listening to the teaching of Jesus, somewhere out in the wilderness in both narratives we say that Jesus is moved by compassion for the needs of the people who are gathered in both narratives the inquires of the disciples as to what provisions they have found among them, and in both narratives.

We have a few loaves and just a few fish in both narratives, Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes to such a degree that all of the people are satisfied and that there's a large abundance of fragments that are left over after the feeding which fragments are picked up in baskets after both narratives, Jesus leaves the crowds by boat to go to another part of the Sea of Galilee followed by an interrogation and confrontation with the Pharisees who would come up from Jerusalem. So we see all of these similarities between the two narratives you can understand why the critical scholars would say. Obviously this is a doublet.

It is simply a an error in repetition of the same material.

When I read those criticisms of the text. I think back to the first year I taught college in Western Pennsylvania. I was teaching theology and philosophy and I had a friend on the faculty who taught the humanities and English and in the humanities course that was required of all freshmen, they had to study Ovid's metamorphosis which was filled with ancient mythology and my friend was passionately opposed to the truth claims of Christianity.

So every day in class while they were studying, but he kept pointing out the similarities between the mythological content of Ovid and the New Testament teaching about Jesus, so that people from his class would scurry to my class and they would say Prof. so-and-so said the day and that they would repeat what he said what you say not get a little tired of this. So I saw my friend in the student union on one day and I said to him, Chris, who later quit teaching and became a soap opera star, but in any case, I sent secrets what's going on with this Ovid stuffing until Alisa similarities and pieces well there there and I suggest they are. I said but here's what I want to know are you giving an equal amount of time discussing the differences between Ovid's metamorphosis and the New Testament narrative of Jesus. I didn't know there were any differences said my friend. So we spent about an hour and I pointed to difference after difference after difference after difference, not the least of which was a radically different view of history and at the end of that time.

He said all right this is II didn't realize that I suffice while you do this while you teach English about these theology were going to get along fine is I don't teach literary criticism in my theology class. So the point I want to make is this, that in any science to gain any knowledge, and a precision of language. There is a process that is involved called the process of individuation were the first thing you do is that you put ideas or concepts in groups of similarity just like we do in biology and then after we've noted the similarities then we begin to differentiate by calling attention to those aspects that differ one with another. This is what happens in medicine. If you have a stomach ache and you go to the doctor. You know that that stomachache may be a result of indigestion or it may be a result of stomach cancer.

There are similarities but thanks be to God. The doctor doesn't send us for chemotherapy when we have indigestion because the doctor also studies the difference as well as the similar that's what makes for knowledge. That's what makes for science and it's also true in applying our understanding to the word of God. We've seen several of the similarities. I don't have all day to point out the differences but some of the most obvious differences that we see in this text are first of all the people the been there for three days. Not one. And we see that they find seven loaves, not five. They pick up less fragments in a different word for the baskets that are used to pick up the fragments at the end. We also see the different word for fish in this situation, Which Takes Pl. in Gentile territory in the Decapolis where the audience is almost certainly Gentiles rather than Jews.

It takes place in an area that specialize in the fishing and selling of a certain kind of fish sardines and that's the word that is used here in the feeding of the 5000 of a generic fish not sardines here it's sardines we going on with these technical points of differences between them again at the end of the description of the narrative. We are told that in the feeding of the 5000. We think what seems the same 5000 4000 what's the difference during the 1000 people will remember in the feeding of the 5000 was 5000 men, not counting the women and children. Here it's 4000 people, including the women and children so there's a vastly different number of people that are being described here and that of course the coup the Grau in all of this is that in the narrative Jesus when he's discussing the matter with the disciples, calls attention to the fact that this is happened twice, once with the Jews. Now, with the Gentiles and that the disciples didn't get it either time. So I'm confident that what we have here is not a copyist error income joining the same narrative twice, but we have a separate act of Christ. In this case for the Gentiles. Let's look them that what happens after the feeding is finished and Jesus came to the region of Domino with her, which is on the western edge of the sea of Galilee, and once again the Pharisees come to him. We read in verse 11. The Pharisees came out and began to dispute with him that English words a little weak really the force that we have here in the Greek is that they came out to harangue him to harass him, not merely to have a polite little discussion or debate about matters, but they are here in full hostility against the seeking from him a sign from heaven, testing him.

Notice Jesus response to this request for assignment before we notice a response. Let me just say this. How many signs that these people need me, Jesus had been going through this region with a blaze of miracle everywhere he goes, sees raising the dead. He's giving sight to the blind hearing to the deaf, and so on. But remember that these Pharisees were convinced that those works.

Jesus had performed by the power of Satan.

And so they did not constitute a real divine authentication of Jesus as a trustworthy prophet.

They wanted to hear the heavens opened. They wanted to hear God's voice say this is my beloved son. Obviously they weren't present at the baptism of Jesus. When God did just that. But anywhere they're coming out the mandate and a conclusive sign that will settle the matter once and for all. And they're saying Jesus proved to us that you really are from God is likely prove you anything. Not having any sign this generation is not entitled to any more signs and then we read Mark's description of Jesus.

He sighed deeply in his spirit. He sighed deeply in his spirit. Even that doesn't catch the full nuance of what's going on here.

Rather, it's telling us that Jesus comes to the absolute limit, humanly speaking of his exasperation. His half not he's sick and tired of this kind of response that you may say women. Jesus is supposed to be sinless and if peace sinless. He should certainly be patient while Jesus is been more than patient with these people and one of the points that we fail to grasp. Occasionally friends is in what sense God himself is patient. The Bible talks about his patients.

It talks about his forbearance.

It talks about his long-suffering and the we see that so many times in sacred Scripture of the patients of God, the forbearance of his mercy that we sometimes begin to believe that God's patience is infinite, you thought that that's an extremely dangerous conclusion to come to because, again and again God warns his people. My spirit will not always strive with man. There is a limit to God's patience. Beloved, he may forbear with you week after week, month after month, year after year and decade after decade, until we become at ease in Zion and think what he's always going to forbear with us, but there are times in the Bible where God ends his patients and he gives people over to their sin that could happen to people who were sitting in this room right now who have depended on God's mercy and they think and will tomorrow I'm to get right with God or give me another week next week may be too late to deal with God and this is what Jesus is saying here to these people and we read he left them.

We got in the boat again in the part of the other side. Now the disciples and forgot to take bread. They weren't much for packing foodstuffs and knapsacks whenever they travel with Jesus and now they're the ones without bread and they say then have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Nevermind that the bread of life was sitting in the middle of the boat.

They're worried because they only have one loaf of bread to divide among themselves and so Jesus took this opportunity to give a charge to his own disciples when somebody says, take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod sure you've all seen farmhouses were on the gate. There's assignment that says beware of vicious dog or he remembered Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, where the soothsayer cries in the street saying to Caesar, Cesar, beware the Ides of March was one thing when a right old soothsayer tells you to watch out for something or farmer puts a sign on his gait. When God incarnate tells you to beware of something you need to stop in her tracks. You need to take heed. You need to listen what is it that Jesus is warning his disciples about that requires this strong admonition.

Take a beware this is beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod was the leaven of the Pharisees elsewhere in the New Testament the Pharisees leaven is described as the leaven of their teaching and the leaven of their hypocrisy. Jesus saying watch out for false doctrine. Watch out for hypocrisy and teaching that can poison you because this metaphor of leaven borrowed from the process by which bread was made where yeast was added to the dough to make it rise and so on. The fermenting agent of the ancient world and still in our own day.

The whole metaphor is to suss a little bit of the substance can radically alter and change anything.

It's mixed with an almost every time in the New Testament when leaven is used in a metaphorical way its use in a negative way.

It's of an influence that corrupts an influence that destroys he saying to the disciples you just saw what I did hear the second time you've seen and you heard the questions of the Pharisees and we leave the Pharisees on the shore.

We get in the boat and it's like an echo in here. It's like I'm hearing the same thing out of your mouth that I was hearing out of the miles of the Pharisees, aren't we like the you spend time with cynics you start to be a cynic you spend time around antagonistic skeptics you become an event tag in this. The skeptic, because the leaven of the Pharisees is a poison that can kill us.

That's what Jesus is saying to his own disciples. Here in the boat and there taken aback biotin. They're trying to figure out why Jesus coming on so strong as this is because we don't have any bread. Jesus understood what they were saying. He sent them.

Why do you reason because you have no bread only read this next question from Jesus with one alteration, one editorial alteration or Jesus says do you not perceive nor understand is your heart hardened not left two words out of that citation want to go back and read it the way he actually said do you not yet perceive and understand is your heart still hard understand their friends that by nature we are deaf to the things of God, blind to the things of God. Our hearts are recalcitrant they been calcified. They've been reified. That's the way we are by nature hearts that are hearts of stone that have no Paul speak for the things of God. So the word of God bounces off our hearts.

Just as something might bounce off of a rock by nature. We don't perceive the things of God until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and opens our ears were pervious to the truth of God and the disciples were fallen creatures just like you and I Jesus said you don't get it yet you still don't see it are your hearts still hard.

Let me stop right there and jump across the ages and make application to you to me today how your hearing.

How's your sight of the things of God. How's your heart to have calluses on your heart.

Have you found ways to defend yourself from the truth of God's word. Do you still run from it.

Do you still blind yourself to cover your ears so that you don't have to listen to. Remember, that's our nature to remember Jesus said when I broke the five loaves for the 5000, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up to 12 hello, I broke the seven for the 4000, how many large baskets full of fragments that you take up seven.

There's a difference there with crisp also painful similarity. And Jesus said then how is it that you do not understand the Lord will not always strive with us.

He is given us his word. He's given us himself as the bread of life is given us the table which is an outward and visible and tangible sign and seal of his death for us. That's why we come to the table to remember his death until he comes to anticipate the banquet feast that we will have with them in heaven at the marriage feast.

The land and his bride in the Spirit and the bride still say come, ye who have no money and eat freely of the bread of life of the bread that has come down from heaven, he offers himself to all of those are despair of their own righteousness despair of their own efforts to get them in the kingdom of God. Those who know that their only hope in life and death is Christ and his word. The Pharisees refused to believe that Jesus was from God. They refuse to believe that he is God and that unbelief condemned them. We have the same evidence in front of us today and I hope that you have trusted in the work of Christ. His perfect life, his sacrificial death.

His glorious resurrection and that you find your only hope of salvation in him.

Glad you joined us for Renewing Your Mind on this Lord's day I'm Lee Webb each Sunday we are pleased to feature a sermon from Dr. RC Sproles verse by verse series from Mark's gospel. It's a series that was the basis of a commentary by Dr. Strohl would like to send it to you. It's a hardbound volume but it's it's not intimidating at all.

Dr. Sproles commentaries are easy to read and eminently helpful to contact us today with a donation of any amount. It will be glad to send you this commentary on Mark. This is an online offer only. So go to Renewing Your Mind.word. Let me take this opportunity to remind you that that we bring you the sermons each week to be a supplement to your own local church assembly. We would never want this program to take the place of sitting out of the teaching and preaching of your pastor and that's why we here at Wigner ministries believe that our our mission really is to come alongside the local church and to provide the kind of resources that you hear on this program. The next study. Dr. Strohl will continue the sermon series from Mark, Jesus will heal the blind man and Peter will make a profound observation about Jesus, please join us next Wednesday for Renewing Your Mind

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