Mark 8:14-21 - Discipleship 101
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 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?
The disciples at this point in time were not effective followers and we see that in v.14. They forgot to take bread and only had one loaf of bread with them. This account also demonstrated that they were not thinking on the same level with the Lord Jesus. Because of the lack of preparation they missed out on a vital spiritual truth that the Lord wanted to teach His disciples. They were thinking on a physical level but the Lord’s warning was concerning spiritual things. He was teaching them on a spiritual level. Past experiences with the feeding of the five thousand and then the four thousand should have taught them that the Lord could have easily made provisions for their food and thus they have known that He was not interested in physical bread. Not only did they forget to prepare for their physical journey, they also and more importantly forgot past victories and His miraculous provisions. How many Christians today are rendered ineffective for service due to negligence both in practical and providential matters? The warning refers to doctrinal matters. This account correlates to Matthew’s story in Matt. 16:12. The leaven is spoken of here in a negative way, no doubt highlighting its corrupting element. The Pharisees had a doctrine of legalism (an outward form of godliness but denying true inward godliness). The Sadducees promoted liberalism, particularly a denial of God’s supernatural ability to resurrect the dead. The Herodians would have no king but Herod. Bad doctrines will corrupt. The warning is valid today as in the days of our Lord. Many professing Christians seem to pride themselves in novelty of doctrines. Entire religious movements today are corrupted with ecumenism or a broader call to unity despite clear violations of Biblical teachings and standards. Some pride themselves on standing for certain core essential doctrines but forgetting that doctrinal truths must be applied. As a result we have men who can expound dogmatically about the Trinity and from the same mouth use filth talk. In their imagination the Trisagion has no teeth. Many insist on the sovereignty of God, but their Bibliology is anthropocentric. Disciples today heap upon themselves academic degree upon degree when they should have been concerned with piety and zeal. Doctrinal leaven is with us today, but so is God’s Holy Word. Let us not disappoint the Lord Jesus by ineffective service for Him, and forgetting our past spiritual victories and His providential care towards us. Certainly the Lord Jesus was disappointed with the disciples, but thankfully, He is gracious and patient with them, and with us, too.