You need to understand the movement from the feeding of the 5000 to the 4000. Jesus was showing the disciples that everything they need for ministry they get from Jesus. The miracles also showed a movement from the Jews to the Gentiles. Jesus was preparing them for a world wide ministry after He left.
Whomever God chooses for ministry, he prepares them before and provides for them during their ministry. Don’t every say, “How am I going to do all this?” except to recognize that “you” can’t but “He” can and will provide.
Then they are in the boat and are afraid. They ask Jesus if He doesn’t care. What is wrong with that? Does presence of hard times mean God doesn’t care? That implies that if God doesn’t care, He will not provide for us.
Mark 8:9bf show that the pharisees ask for a sign. How many miracles have we seen so far? 23. It is amazing that they could ask this. So, neither the people nor the disciples are “getting it.” From here on out, Jesus starts performing private miracles or miracles in remote places away from Jerusalem. He gives up on the pharisees and focuses on the disciples.
The disciples are now in a boat and have forgotten to bring bread. Jesus asks them why they are talking about bringing the bread. They have still not understood. They still think the problem is that they don’t have enough - like they are supposed to supply it. They don’t need to worry. Jesus could supply bread if they got hungry. If Jesus could feed 5000+ and 4000+ couldn’t he feed 12?
How much was left after the 5000+ were fed? 12 baskets. How much after 4000+? 7 baskets. There were more crumbs left after the Jews ate than the Gentiles. There may be some significance to this. It may mean better response from Gentiles.
Now we come to Bethsaida and there is a miracle performed in two stages. It is not because Jesus’ batteries were low. It was a symbol for the disciples. It represents the two stages of understanding of the disciples.
Takes place back near the feeding of the 5000. Another reminder.
(1) Presentaton of the man
(2) Privacy with the man
(1) Healing (23)
(2) Result (24)
This is private and so there is no chance of a “blurred” testimony to the nation.
(1) The healing
This does not teach that some miracles happen gradually. This was a very deliberate teaching opportunity for the disciples and done in two distinct stages not a gradual improvement over a day, week, etc.
Some think the two stages teach that some things are hidden now, but when the Spirit comes all things will be seen clearly. That is not in the context. In fact the context teaches that they should have understood everything already.
(2) The prohibition
The text doesn’t say that the man disobeyed, so we can assume he did obey.
Reasons for secrecy
It is not because He knew He wasn’t really the Messiah and didn’t want people to think that. Some teach this (cf. Ried ... )
Ray Stedman suggests the following application from this miracle:
If you have the spiritual blahs, here we have a model of what todo:
First, “Do you not perceive or understand?” Study the revelations of God to you — scripture and events. Use your mind.
Second, he asks, “Are your hearts hardened?” Analyze the state of your heart. Are you dull, or do you respond? If we are not excited, if we do not feel a response of joy, it is because the mind has grasped it but the heart has not.
Third, Jesus repeats the phrase, “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” Do not just look at the events you are seeing and think that is all there is to it. It is a parable, a parallel to something deeper and more important, concerning your spirit. As these men were being fed by the loaves and the fishes, he was saying to them, “Don’t think of this merely as a way of getting a good, quick, free meal. Understand that I am the source for everything in life
Finally, “Do you not remember?” Look back at what has happened and recognize that God has been at work in your life. What is happening right now is not just an accident. It is part of a bigger plan.