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48: Jesus Ministers to Gentile Crowds

May 14, 2009

Major Text: Mark 7:31-8:9a

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 15:29-31        Mark 7:31-37
Matt. 15:32-38        Mark 8:1-9a

Outline:

  1. Jesus Ministers in Decapolis Mark 7:31-8:3
  2. Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand Mark 8:4-9a

Context/Discussion/Comments:

In one sense Jesus’ trip to Tyre, Sidon, and then to the region of Decapolis is an extended missionary journey. Jesus’ ministry has focused on the Galilee with short excursions to Jerusalem to attend the Jewish religious celebrations of The Feast of Tabernacles and Passover. It was also a type of vacation to get away from the crowds so He could focus on a more private teaching/training ministry to His disciples. They travel from Sidon to the north side of Galilee and down the eastern shore to the Decapolis region. There crowds begin to assemble. There is little confrontation because this area is predominately populated with Gentiles. Jesus’ priority was in reaching Israel but He did not ignore the Gentiles. Legion, who was healed by Jesus on an earlier visit [see Lesson 38], has probably prepared the people’s hearts to receive Jesus by telling his own personal testimony.

The crowds meet Jesus and bring Him a deaf and mute man to heal. Jesus takes him aside away from the crowd and does just that. Then He asks the man to tell no one. Evidently, Jesus is either using reverse psychology or He desires to minister in small groups instead of crowds.

Jesus has compassion for the people. He has taught them for three days and they have not taken time to eat. It is time to leave and Jesus wants to feed the people to give them strength to make it home. The crowd was large, 4000 men, which equates to over 12000 people. He asks His disciples for what food they have and they come up with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus blesses the food and the disciples distribute it. When all are satisfied, they collect seven baskets of leftovers. This is a similar miracle to that of feeding the five thousand near Bethsaida.

Lessons/Applications:

  1. Don’t hesitate to present the Gospel beyond your neighborhood. When ministering to a different community, advance preparation is advised.
  2. True believers can not keep the miracle of salvation to themselves. The Gospel is good news and must be shared.
  3. True believers are amazed at the power of Jesus to heal, to reconcile, to bring peace, and to love the unloved.
  4. Jesus gave thanks and gave their food away to the multitude. It not only fed them but they had food to spare. So let’s give thanks for what we have; our possessions, our talents, our faith in Christ. Give it away. God will bless it. His name will be glorified and we will have even more. The miracles of the 5000 and the 4000 are no different than the miracle of one. Have you experienced the miracle of one? Experience the nourishment of God’s Word.

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