Introduction: What keeps a person from having faith in Jesus? The
insults of church members? The failure of prayer to obtain the
requested results? Spiritual blindness? This week we study a series
of stories surrounding Jesus’ miracles. In these stories we learn
lessons about the importance of faith. Let’s dive into our study!

  1. Let the Dogs Eat

    1. Read Mark 7:24-26. How do you feel when you want to be
      left alone and someone is bothering you? Is that how Jesus
      feels here?

      1. Even when you want to be left alone, are you willing
        to be interrupted for sufficiently important reasons?

        1. Is this a sufficiently important reason?

    2. Read Mark 7:27. Why is Jesus talking about feeding dogs?

      1. If Jesus is calling this woman a “dog,” what does
        that say about His attitude toward her interruption?
        (He was calling her a “dog.” She was not only a
        Gentile, she was a woman, neither of which got you
        any points in that culture.)

      2. Mark smooths over Jesus’ roughness towards this
        woman. Read Matthew 15:22-23. What additional insult
        do we see in Matthew? (Jesus ignores her. He does not
        even answer her at first.)

      3. Read Matthew 15:24. Is this woman outside the scope
        of God’s care?

        1. What would she think is the answer?

    3. Let’s look back again at Mark 7:27 and then read Mark
      7:28. Put yourself in her place. What response would you
      give? What response would the world give? What would be
      the outcome of this story if verse 28 reported that she
      threw back insults at Jesus and said: “I’m having nothing
      to do with whatever religion you have to offer.” (She made
      no insult. Instead, she called Him “Lord!”)

      1. What do her words reveal about her? (If you look
        carefully at Mark 7:27, you will see that Jesus is
        not closing the door on her. He is implying that
        something may be available after the children eat.
        She grasps the small hope given in His words.)

      2. What cuts across racial and gender lines and gives
        this woman a miracle? (Faith! She did not look to the
        left or the right. She tossed off insults and
        societal disabilities. She held fast to faith.)

    4. Read Mark 7:29-30. What lesson do you find here for the
      modern church? (How many times do we wail about our
      inherited problems? I have this problem because of my
      race, my gender, my upbringing, my parents, etc. We get so
      upset if someone treads on our “problem.” If that is the
      focus of your life, you are missing the point of this
      story. Faith is the great leveler. Faith brings you to the
      throne of God.)

    5. Now, all of you bigots (and, honestly, we all are,
      including you) what is the lesson in this for us? Should
      we be making distinctions based on race and gender? Is
      that the lesson Jesus is teaching? (No. Jesus is teaching
      us that faith is our common bond. Whatever side of the
      equation you are on, whether the favored or disfavored
      race or gender, we need to look only through the eyes of

      1. Would Jesus have so throughly insulted this woman if
        she lacked faith? (It is hard to imagine that Someone
        who stands at the door of our heart knocking
        ( Revelation 3:20), is waiting to hurl insults. Jesus
        knew her heart.)

  2. Bread and Yeast

    1. Let’s talk about food some more. In Mark 8:1-10 Jesus
      again feeds thousands of people by multiplying the small
      amount of food they had on hand. He and his disciples then
      got into a boat. Read Mark 8:14-16. What are some of the
      ingredients of bread? (Yeast would be one.)

      1. When the disciples go to the store to buy supplies,
        they should avoid the yeast marketed by the Pharisees
        or Herod. Right? Herod brand yeast is out.

    2. Read Mark 8:17-18. What problems do the disciples face,
      according to Jesus? (They cannot properly see, hear, think
      or remember. And, they are unspiritual.)

      1. Let’s do a self-check. Is Jesus talking about bread?

    3. Read Mark 8:19-21. What is there to understand? (Jesus is
      talking about bread at some level. Why should the
      disciples worry about having enough bread when they have
      Jesus with them – the man who had twice fed thousands of
      people from basically nothing.)

      1. Should you be worried about your needs in life? (Yes,
        if you cannot properly see, hear, think or remember.
        And, you are unspiritual. The disciples were worried
        about having enough bread and Jesus said those things
        about them!)

      2. Compare the Gentile woman to the disciples. (She
        showed faith in the face of adversity. The disciples
        did not show faith when things were going perfectly
        for them.)

    4. Let’s get back to the initial question: Jesus warning
      about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. Is Jesus
      talking about bread in that context?

      1. What does yeast do to bread? (It makes it expand.)

      2. What was Jesus doing to the bread in the feeding of
        the thousands? (He was making it expand.)

        1. What, then, is “Jesus yeast” versus “Pharisee
          yeast?” (Jesus performed these miracles through
          the power of God. Herod and the Pharisees were
          working through their own power. The disciples
          were using “Pharisee yeast” when they were
          worried about forgetting to bring more bread.
          They were focused on what they could do or what
          they had. Although yeast is used to represent a
          number of specific sins (see, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7; Galatians 5:7-9; Luke 12:1), it seems that
          Jesus is talking about an attitude of faith
          versus the attitude of the world and false
          religion. We need to have faith that Jesus can

          “expand” whatever we have to meet the need.)

      3. Whose fault was it that they had forgotten bread?
        (The disciples.)

        1. Does the spiritual lesson turn on who is at
          fault for creating the problem? (The focus is on
          Who is the solution, not who is at fault. The
          focus is on faith.)

  1. Tree Watching

    1. Read Mark 8:22. Who asked Jesus to heal the blind man: him
      or others? (It appears that those who brought him asked
      Jesus to heal him.)

    2. Read Mark 8:23-24. What does it mean to see people who
      look like trees walking? (I know all about this. Until
      some recent surgery, my eyesight had been getting worse
      over the years. (Too much reading!) When I was in college,
      because I could not see that well at a distance, I would
      recognize people on campus by the way they walked. This
      fellow is telling Jesus that the only way he can tell
      people from trees is that the people are moving.)

    3. Read Mark 8:25. How many times did Jesus have to perform
      this miracle to obtain perfect results?

      1. How do you explain an imperfect miracle?

        1. Why would Jesus imperfectly heal this man’s
          vision the first time? (Let’s start with the
          assumption, based on His other miracles, that
          Jesus had the power to do it right the first
          time. Recall two things. First, Mark has been
          teaching us about faith. Second, it appears the
          blind man came based on the faith of others. By
          performing a “two stage” miracle, Jesus
          cultivated this man’s faith.)

        2. What lesson do we find for us? (When it seems
          that God has not perfectly solved your problems,
          perhaps it is to cultivate your faith.)

    4. Friend, what about you? Have you let the insults of others
      keep you from faith? If so, consider the faith of the
      Gentile woman. Have you let “imperfect” answers to your
      prayers keep you from faith? If so, consider the blind man
      healed in two stages. Has your faith failed simply because
      you do not open your eyes to what Jesus has done in your
      life? If so, consider Jesus’ disciples and their concern
      about bread. Faith in Jesus is central to your spiritual

  2. Next week: Teaching the Disciples.