“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread…And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread?…When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto Him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And He said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?” (Mark 8:14a,17a,19-21).
John W. Moore is credited with saying, “Age hasn’t affected my memory a bit. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I forgot something.” [John W. Moore, from the website of Kent Crockett, accessed December 4, 2016, www. kentcrockett.com/cgi-bin/illustrations/index.cgi?topic=Forgetting] When reading the four Gospels, sometimes one has to wonder if the disciples suffered from memory loss. They definitely experienced faith amnesia.
Mark 6:31-44 is the account of the Lord feeding the five thousand by multiplying five loaves and two fishes. In Mark 8:1-9, they were again in the wilderness with a great multitude of four thousand men present. In Mark 8:2, the Lord said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat.” In response to this, you’d think the disciples would’ve said, “Lord, simple, just do that miracle again and multiply and create some loaves and fishes like You did the last time!”
Instead they say, “From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?” (Mark 8:4). In other words, “Where could anyone find enough bread in this wilderness? Where could we possibly go in this desolate place to find food to satisfy all these people?” They’re immediately frustrated and dismayed at the impossible task of feeding such a crowd. They’re telling the Lord what He knew, that this was a barren area. Cities were far away. There weren’t even villages nearby. Finding food for this many people just wasn’t feasible nor realistic.
The disciples had already seen Christ feed an even greater crowd, but they were still at a loss when a similar problem arose. We can’t be too hard on them though, because we do the exact same thing. We forget what the Lord has done for us in the past, and we doubt, and our faith gives way when difficult circumstances come into our lives. The disciples had to be taught and learn the same lesson again, that of recognizing their own insufficiency in an impossible situation, and their need to depend on the Lord. We often get faith amnesia and are thick-skulled like this. We too have to learn the same lesson over and over again before it gets through to us in our Christian lives.
After the Lord multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed the four thousand, it gets even more amazing and somewhat humorous as you read on in Mark 8. While leaving to cross the Sea of Galilee again, the Lord began telling them to beware of the leaven (or corrupting doctrine) of the Pharisees and of Herod, causing the disciples to be reminded that they had forgotten to bring bread except for the one loaf they had with them. These same disciples, who had barely gotten done handing out the multiplied bread to the four thousand, started worrying and whispering among themselves, saying that the Lord spoke of leaven because they hadn’t brought enough bread (Mark 8:13-16). Perceiving their discussion and thoughts, in Matthew’s account, the Lord incredulously asks, “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” (16:8).
He then asked them, “Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They sheepishly replied, “Twelve.” “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of leftovers did you pick up?” They awkwardly admitted, “Seven.” So He said to them, “How is it that ye do not understand?” (Mark 8:21). Or, “How is it that you don’t get it yet? You don’t have to worry about bread. Just trust Me.”
God had intervened miraculously and worked in their lives, but when the next difficult issue arose, their current situation and problem overwhelmed them, and the past goodness and working of God in their lives were then forgotten. They struggled with the idea that Christ could supply their needs and provide for them. They struggled with remembering what God had done for them in the past and that He is willing and able. They simply struggled with just trusting Him. And truthfully, we too all struggle with these things at one time or another in our Christian lives. Admitting that our faith always has room for growth is important for God, by His Word and the circumstances of our lives, to “perfect that which is lacking in your faith” (1 Thes. 3:10). May we have the same honesty of the man who pleaded for the deliverance of his demon-possessed son: “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.