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Mark 8:1-38

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way:  for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye?  And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground:  and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes:  and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled:  and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand:  and he sent them away. 10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall be no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?  They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?  And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand? 22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 and he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up:  and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. 27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi:  and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist:  but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly.  And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan:  for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


The Feeding Of The 4,000 In The Region Of The Decapolis


“Let’s begin in verse 1, Mark chapter 8, “In those days, the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him, and said to them, ‘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 houses, they will faint on the way, for some of them have come from afar.’  And his disciples answered him, ‘How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?’  He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’  And they said, ‘Seven.’  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 set them also before them.  So they ate and were filled and they took up seven large baskets of left-over fragments.  Now those who had eaten were about 4,000, and they sent them away.  Immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.” (Mark 8:1-10)  Sounds like you read that before?  Maybe sound familiar to you?  We were in a text very similar just a couple weeks ago.  You know, I remember the first time I read about the two different feedings, it was a struggle for me.  I was, ‘What’s up with that?’  Two different feedings, sounds kind of questionable to me, you know.  Did somebody, maybe a scribe, recopy the same event twice?  Just change some of the detail or just get confused.  It just sounds very odd to me.  And I began to question, this is a number of years ago, and I began to study, and every time I’ve come to a point in my life where I begin to question the Bible, the Word of God, I always find as I begin to seek through, find some answers, God just increases my faith, faith that this is the Word of God and that it’s accurate, it’s authoritative.  There are some critics that will use this text, and many other texts to just bring questions to the Word of God.  But as you compare the feeding of the five thousand with the feeding of the four thousand, the five thousand we’ve studied before in Mark just a couple chapters ago—you’re gonna see a lot of different details as you begin to lay them side by side.  Obviously, there’s a different number of people, there are different numbers of fish and loaves, a different number of baskets that are collected at the end, even a different type of basket--if you look at the Greek.  In the first feeding there were small baskets, and in this feeding they were large baskets, probably due to the fact they were in different regions, one feeding is on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, the other on the east side.  The number of days that the crowd is with Jesus is different.  In the first feeding they’re with Jesus about a day, a little less than a day.  And here they’re with Jesus three days.  That’s a long time.  Three days, imagine.  The time of the year is probably different because in the first feeding Jesus has them sit down on green grass.  Here it says they’re seated upon the earth, just literally the earth, the dirt.  So it’s probably a different time of year.  The number of blessings, Jesus prays once in the first feeding, here he prays twice, so there's a difference there.  But it’s very possible too that the density of the crowd is different, because on the west side of the Sea of Galilee it’s probably mostly Jews that are before Jesus.  On the east side, here, it’s a good chance there are many Gentiles that are before Jesus.  So it’s a different crowd, a different make-up of a crowd.  It’s also possible that, well, the disciples are the source of the bread and the fish here, to feed the crowd.  Before it was a small boy, if you put all the accounts together that has the fish and the loaves.  But here the disciples just produce the bread and the fish, so it’s possible that it’s their very own bread and fish that they used to feed the crowd with, this time. It's pretty interesting.


Why Confront The Disciples With The Same Question Twice?  Jesus Is Teaching Them That He Is The Answer To All Their Needs


Well some think though that it would be absurd for Jesus to confront his disciples with this same situation twice, and with the same question.  Basically he asked them the same question.  Some say that’s absurd, and some critics would say it’s even worse, or that the disciples would respond in the same manner.  But you know, as I read the Old Testament I don’t think it’s ridiculous at all, when I watch the Israelites, that’s for sure.  And then when I look at my own life I say it’s not absurd when I find that God has to repeat things over and over with me before I begin to clue-in.  You know, how many times does God have to provide for me or us before we begin to trust him and believe in him for what he can and will do.  So quickly we do forget the miracles and forget about his compassion for us.  This crowd has been with Jesus three days, so the crowd is very, very hungry, obviously, if you could imagine.  If you’ve ever tried fasting for multiple days, the third day is about the worst when it comes to going without food.  And Jesus, realizing that of course, in his compassion wants to meet their need and minister to them.  And he uses this as an opportunity, the situation, to teach his disciples once more.  Now Jesus doesn’t desire anyone here this morning to leave hungry.  Jesus doesn’t desire anyone here to leave unsatisfied.  As we study this account and study the Word of God, God wants all of us to leave this morning satisfied, because he has what we need to be satisfied.  Jesus has compassion upon you as he sees your need.  He doesn’t want you to leave and later faint in despair.  He doesn’t want that to take place in your life.  You may wonder also, ‘I’m in the wilderness, things are pretty barren around me!  How can I possibly be satisfied?’  Or ‘How can Jesus possibly satisfy the many needs of those folks around me?’  We’re gonna be reminded today that Jesus truly satisfies, truly satisfies--truly satisfies the deepest yearning in our heart, if we just allow him to do that.  Paul declared in Colossians chapter three, he says, “When Christ, who is our life, appears...”--what is Paul saying when he says that?  He says that Christ not only came to give us eternal life, but also that the life that he now gives us is his very life.  The life that you have today is the very life of Christ.  The life that you can experience today is the very life of Christ.  Bob Hoekstra, in the Calvary Basic book “The Psychologizing of the Faith,” he put it this way, he said “The life that Christ gives to us, when we believe on him, is his own life.”  The life that Jesus shares with us is the life that we are yearning to live.  You know, all of us have desires.  We all desire to be satisfied, and so often we find ourselves looking in other places to be satisfied.  But Bob Hoekstra reminds us that Jesus is our life.  He wants to satisfy you completely.  He doesn’t want you to be a dissatisfied person, a discontent person.  He wants you to experience contentment.  There is absolutely no doubt that Jesus can satisfy every single heart, every single need here this morning.  He is the answer to the yearning of every heart.  Paul a few verses later in Colossians chapter 3, verse 11, he declares “But Christ is all in all.”  You know, we sing that song, “Our all in all”?  Do we let him be that?  But Paul says, “Christ is all, and in all.”  [If you want to get technical, through the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ dwells in the midst of every single atom in the Universe, and holds every single atom together (Heb. 1:1-3).]  Is he your all?  Is he your everything?  It’s God’s purpose that you would be satisfied.  It’s God’s purpose that you would be content, because he’s provided his son, who’s ultimately the only place you’re gonna find contentment and satisfaction.  You know that’s why Paul can say in Philippians “For me, to live is Christ.”  To live is Christ, man.  He’s so satisfying.  He just meets my needs.  You know, we’re just like the disciples, aren’t we though?  Rarely trusting, often doubting, often questioning.  But Jesus, as he was with the disciples, is right here this morning.  He’s right here with us.  He’s right here ready to satisfy, ready to be our everything, ready to meet every need.  Why do we look elsewhere?  Why are we in despair, you know, seeing the wilderness around us.  Sometimes you look, you say, ‘Oh there’s a wilderness.  Man, it’s barren, bum deal.’--assuming there’s greener grass somewhere else.  But Jesus is our all in all.  He wants us to realize that he is the Bread of Life--that he satisfies our every yearning and our every desire.  The Christian life is a life of contentment.  It’s a life of joy, because of who Jesus is, because of what he desires to do in our life.  He says, “I'm the Bread of Life and I’ve come to give life”--and that’s abundant life.  Maybe it’s a little barren in your life, things around you.  But it’s abundant life in Christ.  And that’s where satisfaction is.  Jesus is come to be your everything, to satisfy all your needs.  If you are dissatisfied it’s because you haven’t understood that basic truth that Jesus is all and in all.  You haven’t understood that he can be and should be your everything, that he is the answer to the yearning in your heart, and that he is the Bread of Life coming to give life abundantly.  If you’re not satisfied, so often we’re discontent, Paul says, “For me, to live is Christ,” Christ my life.  Allow Jesus to satisfy you today.  As you read there, at the end of this feeding--you know, Mark is just a fast-moving gospel, forty-two times he says “immediately”--when Jesus is done, and immediately, probably because he doesn’t want them to, you know, he’s fed them--and he doesn’t want them to use him for some type of personal or selfish motive, so he gets into the boat and they depart and they go to this region of Dalmanutha.  And there’s little known about this region.  We can only guess and speculate where it is.  We don’t have much historical data to go by as far as this region of Dalmanutha.  But it’s evidently on the west side of the Sea of Galilee.  [So he’s sailed from feeding the 4,000 in the Decapolis region on the eastern shore of Galilee, and sailed to the western shore to Dalmanutha, wherever that was, verse 10.]


The Pharisees Ask Jesus For A Sign, But What God Wants Is Faith


Let’s continue in verse 11, “Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, testing him.  But he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?  Assuredly I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.’”  A little later we find the Pharisees once again, they come to Jesus, dispute with him, and just confront him.  They’re just bugged by him.  And here they’re seeking a sign from him, a heavenly sign, to validate his ministry.  For some reason the miracles that he’s performed in the past aren’t enough, you know.  I mean, he’s raised a paralytic from the ground, you know.  The guy ran out the door, and yet, you know, it wasn’t enough to validate that he’s the Christ [Messiah] to them.  So they’ve come asking for a sign.  You know, you remember before, they try to write off his miracles as ‘a demonic thing,’ you know--got his power from Satan.  So they’ve come just to say, “Hey, we need a heavenly sign Jesus, if we’re gonna accept your ministry.”  You know, I wonder what sign would be enough for these guys?  What sign would be enough to satisfy them.  If they can’t believe already, they write off his other miracles as demonic empowered, I would think that no matter what he did, they’re gonna really still question his ministry, and eventually arrive at the same conclusion.  If he responded to their pressures here, I’m sure it would only temporarily satisfy them.  They would see, maybe, this great fire come from heaven, you know, and all these angels fly around.  And they would leave and they’d begin to question, ‘Well, you know, he could have done it with a trick, it could have been magic,’ and go back and say, ‘You know, yeah, we’re not satisfied.  We need some more Jesus.  Need something else, man.’  Are you this morning awaiting a sign from Jesus also?--in order to determine whether or not he’s the real thing?  What sign could possibly satisfy you?  What do you want to see?  I mean, even if the heavens opened and you saw God on his throne and saw the angels and you saw all the throne room there, would that be enough to satisfy you?  Maybe it would be.  Maybe it wouldn’t be.  But would it be enough for you to choose to turn away from your ways and follow the ways of God?  Would it have any effect on your heart?  Maybe you say, ‘Well God, you’re real, and Jesus you’re real.’  But maybe your heart would say, ‘I’d rather go this route anyway.’  ‘I like what I do, I don’t really like the things that your Word says that I’m supposed to do and not supposed to do.’  Would a miraculous sign change the condition of your heart?  It didn’t change Pharaoh’s heart.  He saw a lot of miracles.  It changed his heart a little bit to let the Israelites go, but as far as putting his faith in God, not a chance, man.  Not a chance.  He saw some great miracles.  You know, seeking a sign, a lot of people are sign-seekers.  Seeking a sign can be very dangerous.  It can be very dangerous.  The Pharisees were right in deducing that demons and Satan can perform miracles and use people as instruments to do that.  They’re right in deducing that.  We read in the Bible that sometimes false Christ’s come and do exactly that.  They do the miracles, perform miracles, they raise the dead sometimes, in order to deceive those hearts that are just seeking signs.  Paul wrote in Thessalonians, he said, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send strong delusions that they should believe a lie that they might be condemned who did not believe the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness.”  If you don’t respond in the greatness of God’s love today, if you don’t respond to that--just the love and patience he’s had toward you today--certainly a miracle or two is not going to have too much effect on your heart.  I mean, God is just so loving with you as it is, so patient, just willing you to himself.  If the love of God isn’t gonna change the condition of your heart.  When it comes to God, salvation is by faith.  Faith pleases God and asking for a sign just shows unbelief. But faith pleases God. 


Jesus Warns The Disciples About The Leaven Of The Pharisees


Verses 13-21, “And he left them, and getting into the boat again departed to the other side.  Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat.  Then he charged them saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’  But Jesus being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread?  Do you not yet perceive or understand?  Is your heart still 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 fragments did you take?’  They said to him, ‘Twelve.’  Also when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?’  And they said ‘Seven.’  So he said to them, ‘How is it that you don't understand.’”  Because they’re in the boat, and he says ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod, and they’re like, ‘Oh man, we don’t have bread!’  ‘You know, we don’t have bread, what are we gonna do?’  And Jesus is like, ‘Wait a minute, what does it have to do with the quantity of bread?  Don’t you remember, I multiplied bread, I made abundance of bread, you know I could fill a whole grocery store with bread from one piece?  What do you mean ‘We don't have any bread?’  ‘What does having enough bread have to do with anything?  I’ve already shown you that.’  They still aren’t quite getting it.  You know, here you see Jesus refer to the two feedings.  Matthew also records the same conversation as you see here, so it’s highly unlikely that Matthew, and Mark probably writing from Peter’s data, that Peter and Matthew got confused about the, you know, there’s two feedings instead of only one.  It’s pretty clear as you put it all together, there were two feedings, and Jesus is trying to teach those around him, especially the disciples, something that they’re still not quite clueing into.  Well, what is he warning the disciples about here?  He's warning them about the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.


What Is The Leaven Of The Pharisees?


And what is the leaven of the Pharisees?  What is the leaven of Herod?  We learn in Matthew 16 that the leaven of the Pharisees is the doctrine of the Pharisees, we read right there in Matthew 16.  In Luke 12 you can also learn that the leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy.  It says both of those directly.  So you have hypocrisy and you have doctrine, that’s the leaven of the Pharisees.  Putting the two together, the leaven of the Pharisees is then the doctrine of the Pharisees that leads to a hypocritical, a self-righteous lifestyle.  That’s the leaven of the Pharisees.  It’s a doctrine that causes you to think that you can become righteous as you strictly adhere to the traditions of certain men.  It’s that ‘holier than thou’ type doctrine.  And Jesus exhorts us, ‘Beware, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.’  This doctrine that teaches you that you can get righteous by doing certain things.


What Is The Leaven Of Herod?


And then the leaven of Herod is most probably something to do with political trickery or worldliness, as you look at Herod’s life.  It doesn’t say directly anywhere in the Bible.  But that’s a good guess at what it is.  It’s those teachings or movements that get you focused on the world, the worldly kingdom rather than on the Godly kingdom.  You know, politics can be good, we have certain freedoms here in America, but sometimes politics, political movements come through that really get us focused on this earthly kingdom a lot--they start to rip you off, start to get you angry, start to get you just focused on this or that political agenda rather than on the heavenly kingdom.  And that, I think, is part of what Jesus is warning of, because that’s a leaven.  These doctrines are really alluring to us at times, especially as they get mixed with truth, you know.  They throw in the stories of Jesus, they pull out a Bible verse and say ‘Well you need to go do this, you need to go do that.’  [or you need to vote for this candidate because he supports our Christian agendas, etc.]  And they become very alluring to us.  But the net effect upon our life is not good.  The net effect, he refers to it as a leaven, is bad.  So he says ‘Beware, beware of these doctrines.’  You know, Paul challenged the church in Colossi, he said this, “Beware, lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the tradition of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).  He says these doctrines, if you get into them, they’re gonna cheat you.  They’re gonna rip you off, you’re gonna miss out on what you really need.  You’re gonna be cheated if you get into the philosophies of men and the traditions of men.  You’re gonna miss out on the real power that God wants to work in and through you.  And as Paul says, verse 8, he goes into verse 9, he says this, “For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  And you are complete in him...”  “You are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  As Christians, he says he doesn’t want you to get cheated in these other things, because in Christ, Christ satisfies.  You and I are complete in Christ.  You’re not missing out on anything.  You’re not coming up short on anything, you have all you need.  You’re complete in Christ, completely satisfied.  If you adhere to someone’s philosophy or someone else’s teaching to improve yourself, you’re going to find that you get cheated and probably find yourself in bondage to other groups.  But we’re already complete, those of us that are Christians this morning, we’re complete in Christ.  We’re not missing out on anything, we’ve got it all.  He’s our all in all, we just need to accept that in faith and experience the power of it.  Well, maybe today you’re being cheated, trying something else.  You know, you think “I look around and I know Jesus says this, but I don’t know, I don’t know if I get it, so I’m going onto these other things, going to try these other methods.”  So often too, the methods are the methods of psychology.  That is why Bob Hoekstra wrote the book The Psychologizing of the Faith [used to be available from, but sadly they’re not printing them anymore] because psychology is just moving into the church.  And psychology is just human humanism and thinking.  I’m not saying it isn’t good to study the behaviors of man, but psychology itself tries to reason things out by man’s wisdom.  But the Bible teaches that you are complete in Christ.  You’re not missing anything.  You’re complete.  You’re not missing anything.  You don’t need to seek other answers. You’ve got it all already in Christ.  He’s all you need, if you would just accept it in faith.  You know I was talking to someone yesterday on the phone, somebody who was just struggling, trying to encourage this person.  You know, I knew how they were going to receive it, because you say these things, you’re like “Well, they’ve heard it.  But they don’t accept it in faith.”  But I try to say again, “You know, if you just would get alone with the Lord.”  This person was really having a hard time, man, I just never experienced that in my life, so I can’t understand the pain.  But I said “If you get alone with the Lord and just experience him, you’re gonna find strength and hope and life.  You will.  You will experience it.”  And you know, their response was what I expected.  “But, but, but, but...”  The truth is, you are complete in Christ.  What does that mean?  If you’re complete in Christ, what does that mean?  What else do you need?--if you’re complete.  You’re not falling short.  You have it all.  He’s your all in all if you would just let him become your everything and experience that in your life, accept it in faith.  And it’s the good life to have Christ.  He wants you to know that he is the Bread of Life.  Well, are you being cheated?  You know, leaven man, leaven symbolizes evil, and leaven can really sour, it can ruin the whole batch when you look at it from the biblical perspective.  I’ve seen leaven, man, I’ve seen the fruit of leaven and how it works.  I can’t help but think of Galatians and Paul when he wrote to the Galatians, he says, “You ran well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  You know, when we start questioning God, and “Ah, this isn't enough, I’ve got to go somewhere else,” then that leaven gets in there, man, it just spoils.  And when the church opens up to psychology we begin to just spoil.  We miss out on the power.  I was reading through Leviticus in my daily devotion [personal daily Bible study], and I thought it interesting in Leviticus, one of the earlier chapters, when it was talking about the grain offering.  God was focusing and making the Israelites understand that there shouldn’t be any leaven at all in that grain offering.  It should be without leaven at all in that grain offering. It should be without leaven, because it’s to be Holy, set aside to him, and if there was any leaven in it he wouldn’t accept it.  And then Paul kind of carries those thoughts also in 1st Corinthians 5, he says ‘You know, just purge yourself of that leaven, so you can enjoy the feasts and sacrifices of God’ kind of referring back to Leviticus, that as a church we need to be pure, in the truth, to enjoy the power of God in our lives.  I tell you, leaven comes in man, and it just spoils.  You get your eyes off just Jesus and being completely in him and being satisfied in him and start having, adding other things, you’re getting leaven into your life--and you’re being cheated.  That is the result, you’re being cheated.  Why would we want to be cheated?  I don’t like to be cheated.  Jesus wants you to know that he is the Bread of Life.  He doesn’t want you to be cheated from the experience of his goodness and his power.  He doesn’t want you to leave hungry and dissatisfied today or later find yourself in despair.  He wants to be your life, and life abundantly.  So feed on him, taste and see that the Lord is good, the psalmist says.”  [For an interesting study on one type of leaven of Herod, read the following article, written to go at the end of “America-ModernRomans6.htm”  Read this and see what you think, has Evangelical Christianity in the United States over a period of time become addicted to “the leaven of Herod”?  Read the following and see:] 


Should The Church Be Apolitical?


When Paul first presented and preached the Gospel in Gentile nations God wasn’t trying to influence the world’s political governments or improve them through Paul.  Recently, my transcripts of the Calvary Chapel sermons going through the Epistles and Book of Acts for this website prove that in the days of the Gospel’s first presentation, trying to change the Roman government was never the apostle Paul’s intent.  But I have seen through my study of history, and I’m a real history nut (you should see my library/study), the argument of the political left verses right, socialism and communism verses capitalism goes deep into the human need and the denial of those human needs that has been forced on certain groups of human beings over the timespan covering the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  And due to this dynamic created by human needs the world’s current governments have been formed and created based on those needs, due to the political pressure created when they go unmet for a large portion of a population.  The political debate over these three modern forms of government has crept into and in a harmful way coloured our presentation of the Gospel.  A good portion of my real and adoptive family is dirt poor, work hard, have kids, and just can’t seem to get by, and understandably they are liberal, left-wing.  When I look back at the presentation of the Gospel during the revival that took place during the late 1960s, especially amongst the JESUS MOVEMENT which Pastor Chuck Smith was used by God in the calling of tens of thousands of Hippies, many strung out on drugs and alcohol, those being called by God were most definitely liberal, left-wing, against Johnson and Nixon and the Vietnam War, and were pro-Civil Rights.  God cut right through all of that and called hundreds of thousands of people into the Body of Christ, and the Gospel message they received had no political connotations attached to it, I know, I’ve studied Calvary Chapel’s history carefully.  If the Gospel had been provided to those Hippies with rightwing political overtones which I see in the rightwing evangelicals today across the nation, they would not have received it.  I know, because I know the type of evangelicals that are stumbling some of my adoptive family, again who are liberals.  Now realize, over half of our nation is left-wing, Democratic right now, and I understand why, lean and mean capitalism within the United States has created an economic-political pressure which is unmercifully squeezing the poor (whose numbers are increasing exponentially) toward wanting socialism to sort of right the wrongs of social injustice.  In the middle of all this social unrest going on in 2020, what I have honestly seen is a large group of evangelicals who have tied their hopes to a political party instead of Jesus Christ.  So do you seriously think the left, a good 50 percent of our nation, want to hear the Gospel coming from people who are rabidly espousing a right-wing, politically charged agenda, and mixing it with the precious Gospel of Christ?  It’s not gonna happen.  We’re shooting ourselves and our Gospel presentation in the foot if you think so. 


Evangelicals Accuse The Left Of Trying To Destroy The Police And Revise Our History--Is That An Honest Portrayal?


First, what about the police verses Civil Rights?  Understand,  all police are not bad, a good percentage of them are good people, but many of the big city and a lot of the local police departments and our justice system as a whole have been and are structured to be racist, and functioning on a double standard which the Blacks have had to endure since 1878.  One retired court judge who spoke during Jonathan Cahn’s revival meeting on the Washington Mall commented on this strongly when he discussed the judicial system in America, flatly stating that it was racist and operating on a double standard.  Now what about our history?  It’s been stated that the liberals want to rewrite and revise our history.  Let’s understand, in some areas the liberals are totally correct.  Our history, I discovered after the death of George Floyd, does need revising, just as I discovered when I first started writing “America-ModernRomans,” written about the Presidencies going back to FDR, Henry A. Wallace, World War II, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, and the Civil Rights movement.  Much of the history I researched seriously revises our White Anglo-Saxon Protestant view of American history.  Does history need revising?  Yes, in some cases it does.  It all depends on who you are, if you are Native American, your view of accurate history is different than ours (and should be added to ours, modifying it where necessary), if you are Mexican (I've studied Mexican history [see]), it is different than our “Davy Crocket at the Alamo war” against Mexico, then and later.  The actual history of the US fighting what it perceived as “a communist threat” in Latin America from the 1950s to the 1990s (using the CIA/Black Ops) is disgusting, and Truman set us on a course fighting Soviet Communism at a time when all the poor Russians under Khrushchev wanted to do was end the Cold War and feed their starving population (see  And finally, our standard American History books need to be revised to include Black history within the general history of the United States (see and continue reading all the way through  The BLM movement in the eyes of most Blacks and Civil Rights advocates, when looking back into history, especially black history, is merely a continuation of the Civil Rights movement of the mid 1950s through 1960s, and is far from being an agenda to push communism or any other ism.  Right-wing politicians and evangelicals alike are saying that in order to avoid a very inconvenient truth (read that article at America-ModernRomans3.htm to see it for yourself).  The civil unrest we have seen during the year of 2020 is merely a resurgence of unfinished business and reform which was interrupted by the dual assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. back in 1968, recently brought on by a string of police murders of innocent Black people.  My entire research into all that history (and my library is filled with good history books on that) has gone into that “America-ModernRomans” paper.  You should read it. 


The Church Must Be Apolitical


The Gospel as the apostle Paul presented it, and as we should present it, must be apolitical, it must reach out to all peoples in all lands and nations.  Does Gospel for Asia, or the JESUS Film Project or Samaritan’s Purse go out into other nations and as they present the Gospel, do they try to politically change the governments of those nations they go into?  No, they wouldn’t dare.  And they don’t encourage those God calls through them to do so either.  Romans 13 is taught.  Our job is to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God out to the world as a witness, and a warning, and then the end will come (cf. Matthew 24:14-15 and Matthew 28:18-20).  I agree with everything that’s being said about abortion, and that Christians should be opposed to it in their own lives.  But the Gospel presentation must be apolitical, having no political overtones or agenda attached to it.  The question of abortion is an individual national, political and law-of-the-land legal issue, and varies according to what nation you live in around the world.  Abortion during the time the apostle Paul preached the Gospel in, during the time of the Roman Empire, was rampant and legal in that empire.  While within the Christian churches at that time it was wrong and against God’s laws, Paul never preached against it to Roman citizens outside of the Church (the Book of Romans was addressed to the saints dwelling in Rome, i.e. church members, not to pagan Roman citizens).  The apostle Paul didn’t try to legally or politically campaign against abortion.  While Paul preached against homosexuality and all moral sins inside the Church, he never tried to get Rome to legislate against it, and he never gay-bashed homosexual Romans outside the Church.  He knew that God’s coming Kingdom which Jesus would establish at his 2nd coming would take care of all that.  Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the outside world, while he preached about law & grace and Christian obedience within the Church.  We have failed to make that critical distinction, and we are wasting our precious time, money and resources fighting battles the apostle Paul never fought while he presented the Gospel.  


What About Our Warning To The World?


What about the Church warning a nation (and the world) about its sins and the coming national and worldwide calamity and judgment for those sins?  That, my friends, is the job for God’s appointed “prophets” who may or may not be Church leaders (not pastors or individual church members, but reserved for church leaders, the actual heads of the various denominations).  A church denomination’s media outreach and printed magazines and literature can also perform this “prophet’s job” as well.  But we as ordinary believers and pastors are to be “gentle as doves and wise as serpents” as Jesus told us to be.  Jonathan Cahn is a very good example of a modern-day “prophet,” and he is fulfilling that role, that’s his job, and he is doing it—but he should not be telling ordinary believers what political party or candidate they should vote for.  We can support him, but it is not our job.  But we all can present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone we want to, often called “witnessing” to someone.  The Bible encourages anyone and everyone to participate in that activity, but minus the political right-wing or left wing agenda, please.  All those precious souls out there, whether on the political left or right need our witness, and it must be a loving witness that Jesus came, died to pay the penalty for our and their sins, was buried, spent three days and nights in the grave, was resurrected back to life so that he could set us free from sin and grant us eternal life, and that he is coming back again to establish his Kingdom on earth--that’s the simple Gospel of Christ.  That message is political enough, and will get you killed for preaching it in certain countries.  Isn’t that enough?  If ever there was a time the people of the world and this nation needed to hear the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ without political overtones or rhetoric it is now.  Why politicize the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ?  It only pollutes it, because it makes it odorous and onerous for over half our nation in a way that God never intended it to be.  Proving Jesus’ existence, that God exists, and that the Bible is his inspired Word and true should be an important part of our Gospel presentation.  This website does that, without the politics (see and and  What is that precious Gospel Jesus has given us to present?  See I truly believe the Evangelicals and a lot of the conservative Sabbath-keeping Churches of God have swallowed, hook, line and sinker the Leaven of Herod, the evil political Kool-Aid of supporting political parties to promote their Christian agendas.  Would the apostle Paul do such a thing?  No, I don’t believe for a nano-second he would.  Now back to our connective expository sermon on Mark chapter 8.


Progressive Healing, Progressive Growth In The Lord


Verses 22-25, “Then he came to Bethsaida and they brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.  So he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town.  And when he had spit on his eyes and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything.  And he looked up and said, ‘I see men like trees walking.’  And he put his hands on his eyes again and made him look up and he was restored and saw everything clearly.  Then he sent him away to his house saying, ‘Neither go into the town nor tell anyone in the town.’”  So these people again, as many times, just urging, begging Jesus to heal themselves or heal a friend, and here there’s a group that has a friend as Jesus is in Bethsaida, and say ‘Hey, heal our blind friend Jesus, you can do it.’  And interesting, this is the only time that Jesus does a progressive healing, where he does it in stages.  In every other instance, and we can only theorize as to why, but there’s this man when he comes to Jesus, you know his friends are really eager, and this man maybe has some questions.  So Jesus is even helping his faith a little bit, by, you know, giving him a little bit he says “Wow!  Alright, I believe man. Give it all to me!”  And that’s a possibility.  I don’t know.  But you know, it does tell me that sometimes there is progressive healing.  Sometimes there is stages for some reason.  You know, some come to Christ and Boom!—they’ve got it all and experience it all.  And of course, we’ve all got it all.  But some of them, you just see the experience right up front, they’re just delivered from every bondage, and they’re just rolling in Christ right off.  And sometimes, for some of us, it’s a progressive thing.  You know, we’re healed a little bit, and experience life a little bit, and then we go on a little bit more and we experience a little bit more life, it’s a progressive thing [whether it’s a spiritual healing or physical].  But just because you’re not all the way there doesn’t mean you’re not going to get there.  Just because you haven’t been healed completely doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get there.  You can just look back and know where you’ve come from.  Look at where Christ has brought you from.  Rejoice in that.  Sometimes it does seem that there’s a progression sometimes for some of us, you know.  A little bit at a time.  Maybe it’s just an issue of our faith--we accept, a little, a little bit more, a little bit more.  I’m not sure.  Well don’t be disappointed anyway if you're in progress.  Don’t be disappointed in that.  Just rejoice.  Look back where you’ve come from.  Rejoice in that, and walk in faith.


Who Is Jesus To You?


Verses 27-30, “Now Jesus and his disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea-Philippi, and on the road he asked his disciples, saying to them, ‘Who do men say that I am?’  So they answered, ‘John the Baptist, but some say Elijah and others one of the prophets.’  He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  And Peter said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’  And he strictly warned them that they should tell no one about him.”  We don’t have everything in this account.  We learn a little bit more in the other gospels.  But Jesus is teaching them, obviously he’s teaching, teaching them about who he is.  So now he’s even beginning to question them and see if they’re learning, if they’re growing.  So he says “Who do people say that I am?”  and they say “Some say that you’re Elijah, some say you’re a prophet, a good teacher, a great man.”  But he says “Who do you say that I am?  What do you guys believe?  What is true to you?”  And Peter stands up and says “You are the Christ.  You’re the Son of God.”  If you’re the Christ, you’re the Son of God.  Isaiah, you know, God says through him that God’s gonna send his Son.  We read in other gospels, that he says “that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the Living God.”  Well this morning who do you say Jesus is?  Jesus is just talking to you saying “Who do you say I am?  Who am I to you?   Who am I to you?   What do I mean to you?   What do I mean to you in your life?  Am I your life?  Am I your everything--your all-in-all?”  Maybe just your ticket to heaven, you know.  ‘Hey, I purchased the ticket, I took it.  I’m on my way, but now I have to deal with these other things, on my own.’  Who is Jesus to you?--the Christ?  You know, if you say the Christ, Paul says in Colossians, he says, “In him, the Christ, is the fullness of the Godhead.”  Man it’s just all of God is in Christ, all of Him is there.  Is he that to you?  Who do you say Jesus is?  Maybe not just verbally, but by your life?  What does your life say that Jesus means to you?


Peter Attempts To Side-Track Jesus


Verses 31-33, “And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  He spoke this openly, then Peter took him aside and he began to rebuke him.  But when he had turned around and had looked at his disciples he rebuked Peter saying, ‘Behind me Satan, for you’re not mindful of the things of God for the things of men.’”  You know, this is an interesting account here with Mark, because it’s a good chance he’s getting his source from Peter, so it’s interesting to note because in the verses 27 to 30 when just a minute ago Peter says “You are the Christ,” and Jesus’ response is ‘Blessed are you, Peter, you know, only the Father in heaven revealed that to you.’  So he kind of looks pretty good.  But Peter doesn’t include that in this part, evidently, as he’s talking to Mark.  Doesn’t include the good thing that Jesus says, just points out that a few minutes later he was rebuked by Jesus.  Interesting to note.  I guess, a statement of his humility.  But Jesus earlier said, “Blessed are you Peter,” in a different gospel account, and a minute later he’s going “Get behind me Satan!”  You know, I can relate to that.  I’m doing good for a moment, you know, behind the pulpit, just sharing the Word, and get in my car and get alone with my kids for whatever, and it’s totally opposite, you know.  Well, Jesus says, he’s just beginning to teach them, that you know, ‘I’ve come this initial time for the very purpose to bring salvation and I’m going to suffer and be rejected by men and the Pharisees and Scribes are going to get me and they’re going to kill me.  But after three days I’m gonna rise again.’  And he’s teaching them that, and with that, Peter comes to him and says ‘What?! No way, man!’  Maybe all the disciples are thinking the same thing, so Peter’s the only bold one.  So Peter goes up to him and says, ‘No Way!  Jesus, you got to assert yourself, man.  You can’t let these Pharisees and Scribes push you around, man.  What are you talkin’ about?  I mean, look at things you do, you could just dust these guys, you know.  Come on, stop thinking so pessimistic man.  Optimism is what we need around here, you know?’  Just not understanding the things of God.  And maybe that’s you too this morning, questioning God, you know.  ‘God, how can it be?  What’ya mean, suffering?  Come on Lord.  Rejection, hard times, what are you talking about?  We need some optimism around here Lord.  No suffering Lord.’  Are you questioning God?  Maybe not verbally, but maybe your actions are speaking, just that you’re having a hard time with what God is doing.  It’s possible, and I would say it’s a good guess, because you have the perspective of man.  That’s the perspective of man, to question the ways of God.  Say it doesn't quite go the way I think it should, or, ‘This doesn’t make sense to me.’  That’s what Peter’s doing, as he (Jesus) says, ‘You've got the perspective of man.’  And it says “Get behind me Satan,” he rebukes him.  And it’s possible, I mean, Satan basically tried to get Jesus off his course, and here Peter is actually doing the same thing, you know, saying “Don't go ahead with that.”  And, you know, it’s about six months until Jesus is going to go to the cross.  And as a man he understands where he’s going.  So you can only understand from the human side, he’s going, “Wow, this is what I got before me.” So in a sense, you know Peter’s just trying to side-track him.  And of course, the human side would be tempted by that.  So he just rebukes him, he says, “Get away from me Satan!  I don’t want to hear that.  I don’t want to hear this easy-road stuff.”  Well, sometimes we just need a perspective change and get alone with the Lord and see that all things work together to the good that (for those who) love God.


The Cost Of Following Christ


Verses 34-38, “When he had called the people to himself with his disciples also, he said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of man will be also ashamed, when he comes in the glory of His Father with the Holy angels.’”  Well Jesus goes on and just begins to talk of the ways of God from that point.  He says ‘I’m gonna suffer and you’re having a hard time with that.  Well let me tell you about the ways of God here, and the ways of Christ.’  He says, ‘My ways and what is required is that those who desire to follow me, it’s the way of the cross, taking up the cross and following me, it does include suffering, challenges and rejections.  It is the good life, but if you can’t handle that, if you desire to save your life, this type of lifestyle you have, this goal you have, this thing you desire--well you’re going to lose out on life from my sake and the gospel’s.  But if you lose all that other stuff and just say ‘I want you Jesus, regardless of what it is, you satisfy, you’re the Bread of Life, you’re the Bread of heaven, that’s what I want,’ he says you’re going to find life.’  And then he says in verse 36, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul, what will it profit a man?”  You know, you’ve been reading in the newspapers, maybe listening to the news about different people in the world that seem to have it all.  On the top, man, they got it all.  From the looks, to the power, to the money--but man, it can leave you pretty quickly.  The grave is still there.  Having it all, what is it gonna profit you, in the end?  What is it gonna profit you?  You know, there’s the story of Charlemagne, this great king.  180 years after his death officials of the Emperor Ortho were sent to open his grave and, you know, probably get the treasures.  So these guys went into Charlemagne’s grave, this tomb he had been buried in 180 years before.  Of course they found some great loot, a lot of great treasures buried there with the king.  But they were also surprised to find something else, and that was the skeleton of the king sitting on his throne, still had the crown on his head.  A little eerie to see.  But his bony finger was laying on a part of parchment of the Gospel.  It was laying on this exact text, his finger, right here on verse 36, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”  That would give you the chills, you know, I’d go in there and I see this gold and I’m stuffing my pockets, you know, I see the treasures and I’m filling my truck, and then I see the skeleton there saying “What will it profit a man if he gains it all but he loses his own soul?”  Pretty heavy statement, powerful statement that was said there.  Jesus, let’s look at Luke 12, “Then one from the crowd said, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’  But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’  And he said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things he possesses.’  Then he spoke a parable to them saying, ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully and he thought within himself saying, ‘What shall I do since I have no room to store my crops?’  So he said, ‘I will do this.  I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and goods.  And I’ll say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years.  Take your ease.  Eat, drink and be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘Fool, this night your soul will be required of you, then whose shall those things be, which you have provided?’  ‘So is he who lays up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God.’”  You know, you can’t help think of the news and think of this parable, you know.  Just storing it up, storing it up, and then find that God comes to them and says “Fool, man you just made yourself rich, but you didn’t have any of God in your life, and you’ve really come up on the short account.”  Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.”  He says “Take heed,” right here, “and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”  That’s not life, man.  The abundance of things, that’ll just keep you going, you’ll never get enough.  But Jesus said to Satan when he was being tempted, he said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  That’s a meal, man.  That’s what satisfies the yearning and the heart--the Word of God, His Truth, abiding in it and obeying it, receiving it in faith--being complete in Christ.  I wonder, some of the people we’ve been reading about in the paper and watching on the news, what they’re thinking now.  Now a little while ago, thinking they had it all, on top of the world, man.  But some of those people on top of the world, life takes a change.  Life comes to an end, and you wonder what they’re thinking later, as they have to confront...Is God saying “Fool!—you had all that, but you didn’t have me.  Look what you get now in the end.  And all your possessions are left with other people.”  Jesus wants you to know that you are complete in him, that he is the Bread of Life, that he gives abundant life.  He does not want you to leave today dissatisfied, discontent.  He wants you to be fed and be filled to overflowing with his love and his Word and himself. That is what we have in Christ.” [transcript of a connective expository sermon on Mark 8:1-38, given in a local congregation in New England]  


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