Worrying About Bread
Mark 8 records an interesting account, I believe, that illustrates human nature at one of its "silliest" levels. Jesus has just fed 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. Following that he endured another confrontation with Pharisees who were trying to test him. One can guess at his inner weariness when verse 12 says he sighed, "deeply in His spirit." By the time we reach verse 15, He is in the boat again with His disciples trying to warn them about the "leaven," i.e. influence of the Pharisees. Would they also use this time wisely to learn at the Master's feet? No way. Instead, Jesus' talk of leaven seems to remind them that they had forgotten to bring bread with them. While Jesus is talking to them in v. 15, in v. 16 they are discussing among themselves the fact that they had no bread! Talk about foolish. In verses 17-21 our Lord rebukes them soundly. Didn't they remember the feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000 he asks. Twice he asks them if they understood, or not? Did they have a hard heart? Blind eyes? Deaf ears?
You see, with Jesus among them, a lack of bread was the least of their worries. While the spiritual battle between Satan and Jesus was heating up - they were worried about bread! Why didn't they remember? If Jesus could feed 5,000, couldn't He feed 12? Of course they knew this, but human nature is like this. We tend to get distracted by carnal things so that God's words fall on deaf ears.
Ephesians 5 tells us how important husbands and wives are to each other and how they ought to be treated. Nevertheless, we tend to get distracted. Careers, second jobs, car pooling kids, sports activities, hobbies, clubs, etc. tend to use up all our time. Many couples simply don't have time for one another and so we grow close to others whom we spend more time with. Adultery, divorce, and tragedy is often the result because people are worrying about "bread," things of this life that will perish with the using.
Young people are concerned about school, tests, preparing for their career, basketball practice, or the music program. Instead of "remembering their Creator in the days of their youth" (Eccl. 12:1) they are worrying about bread. They are in attendance at every activity they choose and if any time is left over, maybe they'll go to Bible study or worship. And the tree grows as the twig was bent. In later years carnal things continue to pull them away from spiritual things because they got in the habit of worrying about bread.
I have studied with several people who were caught up in studying the Book of Revelation. Hours were spent on trying to decipher who the beast was or what 666 meant. All this time those people were not even sure of what God's instructions were on how to be saved. Their time would have been better spent reading the Book of Acts and laying hold of salvation first before trying to figure out the symbology of Revelation. As far as their own salvation was concerned, God was speaking to them while they were worrying about bread.
We can literally worry ourselves to death and divide Christ's church into fractions over a thousand different pieces of bread. Satan loves it. He likes us distracted. I believe that's why he has so many churches today involved in politics, day schools, parties, dinners, sports, teen trips, karate demonstrations, "living" Christmas trees, fireworks demonstrations, hog roasts, cafeterias, and a host of carnal pursuits. There are churches that have country music stars visit, some that have Big Bird visit, some that have a come-as-you-are drive-in communion, and some that take Master Card or Visa. If you want something, you can find it in today's religious arena. Carnal bread is burying many.
But don't forget Jesus is still speaking. After 18 centuries, he is still asking, "Do you not yet understand?" Rom. 14:17 teaches, "...the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Stop worrying about bread and begin listening to Jesus. He will make it worth your while.
By Carl McMurray
From Expository Files 3.7; July 1996