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Author: Ron Graham


“Don't You Remember?”
—(Mark 8, John 6)

Jesus asked his disciples if they remembered how many baskets full of scraps were left after he had fed the 5000 with five loaves, and the 4000 with seven loaves. They remembered the facts about the scraps, but they neither perceived nor understood the deep meaning and implications of the signs (Mark 8:18-21).

 (Mark 8, John 6). 

1 Remembering His Signs

There were two occasions recorded in which Jesus fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and a few fish (John 6:1-15, Mark 8:1-21).

Jesus was moved to do these miracles by his compassion for the multitudes following him. They were getting hungry. How could they get food unless Jesus did a miracle?

But Jesus had another reason to do miracles. They were "signs". His first miracle in Cana of Galilee was called "the beginning of signs", when at a wedding feast he turned water to wine (John 2:11). The miracles that fed multitudes were also signs.

Jesus later showed that the miraculous feeding of the multitudes could be seen in two ways:

Like the manna in the wilderness, the loaves Jesus broke were not just food to eat. They were also a sign to understand. They were a "type" or symbol of Jesus Christ and his spiritual food that gives life to the soul (John 6:29-32).

Jesus said furthermore, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats of this bread will live forever. The bread that I shall give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:50-51).

When the disciples remembered the earthly facts, they should also have remembered and understood the symbolic meaning of the signs pointing to the holy sacrificial death that Jesus must die —giving his earthly body for the life of the world.

2 Remembering His Death

In feeding the multitudes Jesus took not only the few loaves, but also a few fish. These fish had died to give earthly life to the people. So they too were a symbol of Christ’s death to give eternal life to the world.

When Jesus asked, "Don't you remember?" the disciples did remember the facts quite well. They remembered how many baskets of leftovers there were. But then Jesus asked, "Why don't you understand?". He was asking why they didn't see the meaning of the signs. Their memory of the signs lacked understanding (Mark 8:18-21).

That should not have been so. The meaning was clear. Jesus would give his flesh to be broken for the life of the world. They should have understood and remembered’that.

By the way, Jesus later set up a simple weekly memorial (the Lord’s Supper) to help keep his sacrificial death, and his resurrection, daily present in our memories and meditations (Mark 14:16-25; Acts 20:7).

3 Remembering His Words

It is good therefore to remember the signs that Jesus did because they point us to the death that he died and from which he was raised to life again.

However it is also necessary to remember the words that he spoke (or equivalent words in a language we understand).

Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63 NKJV).

How do we know that the words Jesus spoke are spirit and life? He says, "The words that I speak to you, I do not speak of my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14:9-11)

The words of Jesus are the words of God which he has confirmed and verified by many works. His works are signs that his words are true.

But I remind you that the works of our Lord signify even more than that. For instance when Jesus healed the blind, that miracle pointed to Jesus as "the light of the world" (Mark 8:22-26, John 1:1-5). Through his death and resurrection he redeems the soul from spiritual death and darkness.

Sometimes Jesus spoke in highly figurative terms. Take for instance his statements about eating his flesh and drinking his blood (John 6:53-66). Genuine believers could make good sense of such sayings, whilst others were offended by them.

However Jesus also spoke plainly. We will close our lesson with one of the many plain and powerful statements among the words of our Lord.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out... This is the will of the Father that of all he has given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day" (John 6:37-39).

When Jesus fed the multitudes, he fed them all —the men, the women, and the children (Matthew 14:21, 15:38). He fed all the multitudes who had come to him and nobody missed out.

Notice that Jesus said to his disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost" (John 6:12).

When the full baskets were carried away, no scraps were left behind. This was not just to be tidy. It was to signify that those who will be raised up and carried away at the last day will be all who have come to him for salvation through his sacrificial death, and not one of these shall be left behind.

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