Mark 7:31-8:21 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Describe how Jesus cures the deaf man. See Mark 7:33-34 (printed below) Why do you think He did it this way?

Jesus took him aside privately, apart from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man’s ears, then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. (34) Looking up to heaven, he sighed, and then said to him, Ephphatha, which means, Be opened. (Mark 7:33-34)

The fact that the miracle is performed in an elaborate way indicates that it has a special teaching significance. By taking the man away from the crowd, putting His fingers into his ears, and issuing the command, “Be opened,” Jesus is proclaiming, “I am the one who opens the ears; I am the one who gives understanding.”

2. When Jesus and His disciples arrive in Dalmanutha the Pharisees approach Him. What do they want Jesus to do? See Mark 8:10-11 and Matthew 16:1 (printed below)

After this, he immediately got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. (11) There the Pharisees approached and began to question him. As a way of testing him, they requested him to perform a sign from heaven. (Mark 8:10-11)

The Pharisees and Sadducees came and tested Jesus, requesting him to show them a sign from heaven. (Matthew 16:1)

The Pharisees request Jesus to perform “a sign from heaven.” They are not satisfied with the many miraculous works He has been doing, they want something more. What they are asking for is something like Elijah did on Mount Carmel when, in response to his prayer, God caused fire to fall from heaven and consume the sacrifice on the altar (see 1 Kings 18:36-38).

3. How does Jesus respond to the Pharisees’ request? See Mark 8:12-13 (printed below)

He sighed deeply in his spirit and said, Why does this generation ask for a sign? I tell you the truth, No sign shall be given to this generation. (13) Then he left them; and once again getting into the boat, he went to the other side of the lake. (Mark 8:12-13)

Jesus “sighed deeply in his spirit.” The unbelief and opposition of these “covenant” people—in contrast to the perceptive and persistent faith of the Canaanite woman as recorded in Matthew 15:22-28—produce grief and sorrow and indignation in His spirit. He refused to give them the kind of sign they demanded. Then He left them, departing to the far side of the Sea of Galilee.

4. When the disciples discover they only have one loaf of bread, what do they do? See Mark 8:14,16 (printed below)

Now the disciples had forgotten to bring bread; they only had one loaf with them in the boat…(16) Then they argued among themselves, Why is it that we have no bread? (Mark 8:14,16)

The disciples begin to argue among themselves as to which of them was responsible for this oversight. They are on their way back to that remote region on the far side of the Sea of Galilee without adequate provisions. But they totally forget that not once, but twice, Jesus has supplied bread for them in this very place.

5. When Jesus warns His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, what do the disciples think He means? What does Jesus really mean? See Matthew 16:11-12 (printed below).

How is it that you do not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? On the contrary, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (12) Then they understood that he was not warning them to beware of the leaven used in making bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:11-12)

The disciples assume Jesus is speaking about the leaven used in making bread. They fail to comprehend that Jesus is actually referring to the teaching of the Pharisees. Jesus must now give His disciples spiritual understanding, just as previously He gave the deaf man the ability to understand everyday human conversation.