The disciples grew up looking for Israel’s Messiah, and found him. “You are the Christ,” said Peter (Mark 8:29). The “Christ,” the Hebrew Messiah, but Jesus is Messiah to more than Israel and is calling them to be much more, as well. To the Jews there were two types of people, Jews and the unclean non-Jews (called Gentiles). For centuries, Israel followed a system of purity, including a special diet that kept them holy, set apart from the non-Jews. Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), a shocking pronouncement to the food-restricted Jews, and a sign of things to come.
At the beginning of chapter 8, Jesus fed 4,000 people. In chapter 6, he fed 5,000. Mark is the shortest of the gospels, and yet he he seems to tell one story twice, because one is almost identical to the other. Almost. The key is in the difference. Everything is the same, except now he is “in the region of the Decapolis” (Mark 7:31), where lived many Jews and many more Gentiles. Jesus is feeding the unclean the same way he fed the clean; and the similarity makes the difference offensive. Jesus cares for people the Jews didn’t care about and treats them the same.
Back in the boat, Jesus returned to the Jewish side of the sea, and was met by the Pharisees, who “began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him” (Mark 8:11). Prove yourself, they demanded. Jesus sighed, refused, and instead, “left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side” (Mark 8:13), back to the people you’re not supposed to care about.
My God, but not just mine, You are the God of the heavens and the earth, and all who live in this world. My love for You is displayed by my love for others–all others. I must be the good Samaritan, going overboard to care for those most unlike me. Build in me that kind of love, a love that sacrifices everything.
I’m so glad You have that kind of love, God, because without it, I would never know You. I was most unlike You, doing what I wanted, following my ways and rebelling against Yours, and You loved me. Thank You for caring.