Mark 8:1-21 is the culmination of what began in Mark 7. Mark 7 began with Jesus’ clarification and correction of the intent and purpose of the Old Testament purity laws. Mark 7 ends with Jesus practicing what He preaches by healing so-called “unclean” Gentiles whose faith in Him made them truly clean, unlike the externally “clean” Pharisees whose hearts were filthy with unbelief.
Mark 8 begins with the Gentile version of the feeding of the 5,000: 4,000 Gentiles are miraculously fed in the wilderness by Jesus, just as the Jews had been in chapter 6. The promise to the Syrophoenician mother is reinforced: the Gospel is indeed for the Gentiles, and the dogs will no longer beg for crumbs but be welcomed to sit at the Messiah’s table as joint-heirs of the Kingdom and the promise to Abraham.
Then, Jesus reinforces to the still-dense disciples that the Pharisees’ hard-heartedness is the real uncleanness to avoid. He has more than proven His ability to provide for His people’s physical needs, but the tenderness of heart that receives God’s Word is of far greater and lasting value than a free meal.
Notes and audio are available here.