This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.
In Chapter 8, Jesus shows us that He is the God of more-than-enough who brings food that gives life and changes hearts, and that causes blind eyes to see — both spiritually and naturally.
It doesn’t make any difference how little you bring to Him. The point is to bring it, to respond to what He is offering you. Real food, and real sight. He is the One who convicts us of our blindness and opens our eyes, if we ask Him to do it. That’s what this chapter is all about.
Verses 1-3 — As in Mark 6:33 with the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus has another large crowd with Him — this time, 4,000 (see verse 9) — and there is nothing for them to eat. Jesus is inwardly moved, literally and spiritually, because the crowd has followed Him for three days, just to listen to Him. Some have come from far away, and the trip back home will be too much for them, if they do not receive food now.
Are you so hungry for the words of Jesus that you will follow Him anywhere?
Verses 4-10 — Jesus’ disciples have forgotten the feeding of the 5,000. They are still spiritually blind to the truth that demonstrated, because they can’t imagine how, in this desolate place, sufficient food can be provided.
Are you in a desolate place, a dry place, because of sin in your life? Do you think it is impossible for you to receive anything from the Lord? Come to Him humbly. He will open your eyes.
Jesus asks what natural things are available. This time, it is seven loaves and a few small fish. Jesus gives thanks and breaks the bread and blesses both the fish and the bread, and feeds the whole crowd.
And indeed, all 4,000 have much more than just a taste — they are completely satisfied and full. AND there leftovers, as with the 5,000 — but an even greater amount! Twelve smaller baskets of leftovers were collected after the 5,000 were filled. Seven large provision baskets of leftovers are collected after the 4,000 are filled.
Important point: Jesus multiplies and enlarges small things, and makes them satisfy many. He is God in the flesh, after all! He will make you much more than you are, when you realize your smallness and humbly ask Him to enlarge your heart so it can contain Him.
Verses 11-12 — Again, blind guides that they are, the Pharisees confront Jesus as soon as He reaches Dalmanutha. They want a sign from heaven, to test Him. The test? They want Him to do some great sign or miracle, but God has not told Him to do any such thing for them.
Many signs from heaven had already been given regarding Jesus — John the Baptist’s testimony, the very works Jesus performed, the Father’s voice of approval when John baptized Him, and the Scriptures themselves (John 5:33-39).
Jesus sighs because of their blindness, and says no. He only does what He sees the Father doing, and says what the Father is saying (John 5:19, 8:28).
Verses 13-21 — He and His disciples leave the Pharisees. But His disciples forget to bring bread for the boat trip. In Israel in those days, a person always carried bread with them, in case of unexpected troubles, so they would have something to eat.
So as He warns His disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod, all the disciples can think about is the bread they forgot to bring.
Why are they so seemingly dense? They are not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, so they think naturally and not spiritually. They cannot understand spiritual things yet; they are spiritually blind (See 1Corinthians 2:14.) They speak to one another — man, we should have brought bread!
Jesus was aware of what they are whispering among themselves. Do you not understand? Is your heart still hardened? Do you have eyes but yet not see? Are you as blind as the Pharisees? Don’t you remember the 5,000? Do you not understand?
Absolutely! They do not understand. His disciples are as blind as the Pharisees, though they do not reject Him as the Pharisees do.
Important point: You cannot understand the spiritual things Jesus speaks until you are filled with His Spirit. Then the light bulb comes on, and you can understand. That is one of the reasons it is so important to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then you have God’s wisdom and understanding and love literally inside of you. The result puts Oprah’s “aha moments” to shame! His truths open up to you so you can understand them, and His truths are life-giving and heart-freeing!
Verses 22-26 — Jesus has dealt with those who are blind because they have a religious spirit (the Pharisees), He has dealt with those who are His followers who are blind because they are not yet filled with the Spirit (His disciples), and now, in Bethsaida, He deals with a man literally blind.
Jesus brings the blind man out of the village because Bethsaida is an unrepentant city. They have rejected Jesus (Matthew 11:21), because they have not repented from their sin upon hearing His words. He removes the man from an unbelieving group, for the man’s sake.
Even then, after He spits on the man’s eyes and lays hands on him, the man doesn’t see well. Does that mean Jesus does halfway healings? May it never be! The man’s faith was not enough after the first act of healing by Jesus. But He lays His hands on the man’s eyes, and the man sees clearly. And He sent the man back home, but said, “Do not even enter the village.” That is a strong, imperative command from Jesus.
Thanks be to God, He gave me faith to stand against unbelief, after I was healed. I was surrounded by unbelief, by questioning, by lies, by assumptions, even to the point that one person said, “What will you do when you fall?” She meant, “What will you do when your MS returns?” I said, “The Lord healed me of MS. It will not return.” And it has not. I remain strong by God’s grace, for He has given me faith to believe that ALL His promises are “Yea and amen” in Christ Jesus!
Verses 27-30 — Peter begins well, and then blows it. “Who do people say that I am?” Some say John the Baptist, because He preaches repentance. Some say Elijah, because He preaches repentance and performs miracles and healings. Some say one of the (other) prophets.
But Peter says, “You are the Christ.” In Matthew 16:17, Jesus tells Peter this revelation was given to Him by God the Father.
This is the first absolute revelation that Jesus is the Christ. But Jesus doesn’t want others to know. It isn’t time yet.
Verse 31-33 — Why isn’t it time? Because He has to be killed by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and then rise again in three days.
But Peter, who just had the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, now rebukes Him. No way, Jesus! You aren’t supposed to die! But that has been the plan, from the beginning, before time began. He was the lamb, slain before the foundation of the earth.
Important point: Partial revelation isn’t enough. Seeing or hearing or sensing some of God, but having no knowledge of the plan or heart of God, will send you down dangerous paths.
Jesus rebukes Peter, because Peter understands who Jesus is because God has shown him, but he doesn’t understand that God’s interests are for mankind be redeemed, and that means Jesus must die on a cross, just as David prophesies in Psalm 22.
Peter’s response reveals that he has his own interests in mind. He and the rest of the disciples think Jesus will become King of Israel and save them from Roman rule. if He dies, that won’t happen. And what will Peter do, if Jesus is taken from him?
His display of self-interest and selfishness is the mark of an unchanged heart. Satan can use those with unchanged hearts to cause division and strife in the church. They have their own interests in mind, not God’s.
And what Jesus says is meant to tempt Jesus to forego the cross. So Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.”
Important point: Do you want Jesus just for your own benefit, just so you can be blessed? Then your heart needs to be changed. Do you want Jesus to fill your heart so you can be His witness in your hometown, in the nation, and in the world? Then your heart has been changed by the Heart Changer!
Verse 34-38 — Here is God’s heart and God’s plan:
You lose your life for the sake of Jesus Christ who dies for you. Does that mean physical death? No! It means death to your self-interest.
Your selfish sin nature is crucified (Ephesians 5:24), so Satan can’t use it against you and the church. He will still tempt you, but you will have only God’s interests in mind, and will be able to quickly identify Satan’s temptations.
Submit to God (entirely), dying to your self-interest, and you will be able to resist the devil and the devil MUST flee. He has to. God says so (James 4:7)!