And You Still Don’t Understand?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Numbers 26-28; Mark 8


14 Jesus’ disciples had forgotten to bring any bread, so they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 He gave them strict orders: “Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.”

16 The disciples discussed this among themselves, “He said this because we have no bread.”

17 Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “Why are you talking about the fact that you don’t have any bread? Don’t you grasp what has happened? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing? 18  Don’t you have eyes? Why can’t you see? Don’t you have ears? Why can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? 19  When I broke five loaves of bread for those five thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”

They answered, “Twelve.”

20 “And when I broke seven loaves of bread for those four thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21 Jesus said to them, “And you still don’t understand?” (Mark 8:14-21, Common English Bible)

I know many of you have heard the ongoing debate between my wife and me over the appropriate description for math in our lives. Cindy argues, “Math is your friend.”

My reply is very different from hers. I like to say, “Math was invented by demon possessed people who are out to drive us all nuts.”

What there is no argument about? I would never have survived college algebra without her tutoring me through. I struggled. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. When the semester came to an end, finals were over and I had gotten my grades and there was a “C” next to College Algebra, there was a party at the Broyles house. I am not sure who was happier about my survival, me or Cindy.

When I started reading today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel, and I got to the last verse of the passage above, I thought I was hearing Cindy in my ear during one of those tutoring sessions again. She would sometimes spend hours trying to force something into my pea brain only for me to show, once again, I didn’t get it. Well, really it was more like showing, I still didn’t have a clue. In near exhaustion from this monumental task, Cindy would ask something like, “All this time and you still don’t understand?” The truth was, no I didn’t. I still don’t. I have no clue what that problem is I picked out for today’s post. It looks like Martian to me.

In some of the verses from Mark 8 that precede the Scripture reading for our post today, The Pharisees were challenging Jesus for a sign. They want to see a sign. For his part, Jesus tells them they won’t see a sign. Sometimes signs aren’t there. Sometimes we have to trust, we have to have faith. The writer of Hebrews says, “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see” (Hebrews 11:1, CEB). We sometimes must accept what we don’t see.

For the twelve, however, things were a bit different. They had seen signs. They were witnesses to the feeding of the five thousand that we read a few days ago. They were witnesses to the feeding of the four thousand that is also a part of today’s Journey Through Scripture readings. Jesus reminds them that, not only did they see him feed so many people from such a small amount, there was more left over than what there was when the meal first began, and that is just the leftovers! Further, Jesus didn’t just do it once with 12 baskets of leftovers, he did it a second time with seven baskets of leftovers.

As they cross the lake they lament their lack of bread, only one loaf. After telling them, in essence, the signs the twelve had already seen, Jesus closes our lesson by asking his question, “And you still don’t understand?”

Sometimes the things Jesus had to say were difficult to understand. It is obvious this was difficult for the twelve. And, I am not trying to claim some great insight that is superior to the twelve. That is far from the case. But, it seems to me that Jesus might be saying, “When God is with you, what you have will always be more than enough.” Well, at least that has been my experience.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved




Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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