Sunday

The Question Jesus Asks Us All: Do You Still not Understand?



From the time my daughter was a newborn, she was an excellent communicator. She could pack more meaning and emotion into one syllable than any child I knew. 

Other babies in the church nursery would work up to the full expression of their need. When their little tummies began to rumble, they’d squirm. Then their eyes would pop open. Then they’d poke their little lips out and whimper pitifully. Eventually, if no one summoned their mother or popped a bottle into their mouth, they’d begin to wail. 

Not my child. She’d go from dead asleep to howling in half a second. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! 
But every time she cried and I fed her, we built trust. Before long she transitioned from a bloodcurdling scream to a lusty cry. Then a softer cry. Eventually I couldn’t remember the last time she’d screamed herself (and me) awake. When I started feeding her on a schedule, sometimes she didn’t cry at all. She just waited for me to feed her. 

Once she learned simple words, she could ask for what she needed. And ask she did. 

“Mommy, may I have a pancake?” 

“Mommy, may I have a glass of juice? 

“Mommy, may I have that sparkly pair of shoes?” 

“Mommy, may I have another blanket?” 

Coming to me when she needed something became her default setting. I had proven myself dependable. Although it would be many years before she fully understood the commitment her father and I made when we brought her into the world, she knew one thing well – she could trust her parents to supply her needs. 

Apparently Jesus’ disciples struggled in the same way my daughter did. Mark 7 describes them looking out over a sea of 5,000 men and twice as many women and children and wondering, How in the world will we feed them all? 

"How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked them, then multiplied the loaves and fish into so much food they gathered 12 baskets of leftovers (Mark 6:38-44). 

The next week, 4,000 men, many of whom had traveled great distances to hear Jesus, sat hungry at their feet. Jesus again told the disciples to feed them. 

 “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?" they replied. 

"How many loaves do you have?" Jesus again asked (Mark 8:5). Then he multiplied their loaves and fish and fed them all. 

You’d think watching Jesus provide food in abundance on such a grand scale would have taught the disciples that he was a capable and consistent provider, but later that day, they were still struggling. 


I’m not sure whose responsibility it was to pack food for the trip, but halfway across the lake they realized they had only one loaf among them. A comment Jesus made warning them of the “leaven of the Pharisees” caused them to mutter among themselves. 

“Do you think he said that because we forgot the bread?” one man asked another. 

“Probably,” he said. “How could you forget it? That’s the second time this week.” 

“Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 

 “'Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ 

“'Twelve,’ they replied. 

"'And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ 

“They answered, ‘Seven.’ 

“He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’” (Mark 8:17-21).

Jesus asks us the same thing. 

Do you not still understand? 

How much money do you have? Not enough. 

How much time do you have? Not enough of that either. 

How much health do you have? Energy? Wisdom? Perseverance? Faith? 

Not enough – and that’s the point. Within ourselves, with our limited and minuscule resources, we cannot do the tasks God has called us to do. But with Jesus as our dependable and faithful provider, we can. 

So the next time we take stock of our resources and find them lacking, we have a choice: Wail in fear or wait in trust. To help us make that choice, we can ask ourselves two questions: “Has God provided for me in the past?” 

If yes, “Has his ability to meet my needs changed?” 

Do we have any reason to think he can’t provide for us in the future? 

Do you still not understand?



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