Mark 8:11-21 You Don’t Know How Much You Don’t Know


11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of piece all s did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

You Don’t Know How Much You Don’t Know

You have no idea how ignorant you are.  Neither do I.  Our thoughts and our perceptions are finite and we walk around in an infinite reality.  You are ignorant, blind, and confused.  Rather than get more of an idea of the important information you lack, like an upstart teenager, you try to hide that you know nothing from yourself and others.  It is a truly humble person who continuously examines themselves and acknowledges that they have not arrived.  It is a Christian discipline to examine ourselves and ask God to examine us and show us where we lack.  Without a wild perception of God’s holiness and our distance in comprehension, goodness, and ability from God we lack a reason to grow.  Our society lulls us to sleep with quiet assurances that you know enough already to be good.  You have been made right with God through Jesus’ death on the cross – you don’t drink, smoke, or chew or go with girls who do.  No, you have become a hypocrite whose proud mask hides the true face of deceit from you.  We don’t actually claim that we are without sin, but we have ceased to be recipients of God’s grace.  God’s riches are undeserved, but we go from an undeserving receptivity at the point of our conversion to a cold complacency years in.  We accept that we are ignorant with regard to our professions and we get degrees and doctorates to try and make us more qualified to accomplish more.  Of course, some like Richard Dawkins, think that competency in one area makes them an expert in all.  Others think that no matter how hard they study they never know enough to act.  In our ethical and moral growth we believe that all we need to know, we knew in Sunday School!

Spiritual growth occurs as we know our minds and we know the mind of Christ.  Spiritual pygmies occur when people stop growing in their faith and focus on the illusion of their self-sufficiency.  The disciples in the boat have a perception of themselves and of Jesus.  Unfortunately, although they are in the boat with the one who has worked two powerful miracles regarding provision, they still despair at their lack of provisions.  Jesus, the saddened teacher looks through the ages at those who he would develop into people of power and influence and shakes his head: “Do you still not understand?”  They are preoccupied with busy lives of soccer matches for children, birthday parties for friends, and entertainment that silences his voice.


Dear Jesus, examine our hearts and minds.  Show us the next thing that we don’t understand and show us where we are deficient.  Thank you for covering our inadequacy with your grace.  Through grace take that inadequacy and use it as a continuous catalyst for growth.


  1. Why do the disciples squabble?
  2. What is their perception of Jesus?
  3. What does Jesus want them to understand?
  4. What have you recently understood about Jesus that caused recent growth?
  5. Why do many Christians persist in an immature state or just cease growing after a number of years?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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