Mark 8 v 14 - 21

Another obscure and rather mysterious Gospel passage which we can easily rush through to get to the next miracle, saying of Jesus or parable. However, this whole Gospel has been put together very carefully and it pays to study the lesser known passages as well as the popular. Firstly, to set the scene: the disciples and Jesus are in a boat and the disciples are troubled by their failure to have food with them. I think I've generally considered the disciples to be around the same age as Jesus, but when you consider the immaturity of their conversation- elsewhere they have an argument about who will be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven-it is perhaps better to consider them younger than twenty. John wrote the book of Revelation at the end of the first century, possible around 95AD, nearly seventy years after the start of Jesus ministry, so it would be most likely that he was in what we would call his 'teenage years'. Jesus, however, was thinking of the demands of the Pharisees and of the threat of Herod. For a Jew, leaven was considered evil as they identified it with putrefaction, using it as term for original sin. Jesus is warning the disciples against falling for the same desires as the Pharisees and Herod had, assuming that the Kingdom of God was to be an earthly power, that the Messiah had come in order to set the Jews free from the Roman occupation. We know how relevant Jesus' remark was in that one of the Twelve was Simon the Zealot and the Zealots were a paramilitary group fixated on ridding Israel of the Romans and another of the Twelve was Judas Iscariot, who many commentators understand to have made the decision to betray Jesus in order to bring on the revolution, to spark Jesus into military action. Jesus reminds the disciples of how He had provided for them to demonstrate that experience encouraged them to trust Him. It is the same for us: when has Jesus failed you? I have known Him in my life for fifty years and He hasn't failed me yet!

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