Matthew – God’s Purposes
I’m teaching the beginning elements of reading to a small group of first graders gathered around the kidney shaped table. All eyes are on me as I tell them, with passion and excitement how a word is formed. When I finish, a little girl looks at me in wonder. My thought is that I have these little minds in the palm of my hand. She is going to read! Here were her precious words, “Mrs. Callaway, I really like your necklace, it is so pretty and shiny.” All the wind came out of my noble sails of what I thought I was teaching. I sighed with a smile and could only say, “Thank you.” “Now can we all get back to trying to read?”
Oh how patient, Jesus is with his disciples who completely miss the point of where Jesus is leading them in their thinking. They are fighting about who brought the bread and Jesus is warning them about the false teachings of the religious elite who are in power at that time. Oh, how Jesus must have sighed when they argued while missing the BIG picture of life eternal with a warning about those who teach lies.
Church, we can be as dull as unfocused first graders! We argue over stupid stuff that keeps from worship of the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ! Satan loves for us to argue and hatefully disagree over “the way we traditionally do things”, “what we should sing”, “how we should organize gatherings”, or “how many meetings it will take to decide on carpet color for the new sanctuary”. There are many, many more silly arguments I have observed in my life as a follower of Christ, but to keep going with examples makes my heart hurt.
“WATCH OUT!” “Beware of false teaching!” began with Jesus and was followed up by His disciples writings and teachings throughout the New Testament. FOCUS on Jesus. WORSHIP Jesus. KNOW and LIVE Truth. JESUS is the Truth, Way and Life. There is no other way to life abundant and eternal. No other way.
Matthew 16, NLT
Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
5 Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 8 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? 9 Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? 11 Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”
12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
“THEN AT LAST THEY UNDERSTOOD…”
Do we understand the difference between worldview and Biblical view as we live our lives?
According to Jesus, here is the difference in thinking and behaving like He taught us (Biblical view) and thinking like the world:
He presented to the disciples two approaches to life:
-deny yourself OR live for yourself
-take up your cross OR ignore the cross
-follow Christ OR follow the world
-lose your life for His sake OR save your life for your own sake
-forsake the world OR gain the world
-keep your soul OR lose your soul
-share His reward and glory OR lose His reward and glory
Jesus used this embarrassing event as an occasion to teach an important spiritual truth: Beware of the false teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The disciples misunderstood Him; they thought He was talking about material bread. Often in the ministry of Jesus, people misconstrued His words by interpreting them literally rather than spiritually.
Leaven (yeast) was to the Jews a symbol of evil. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees had infected the religious beliefs of Israel with false doctrine. The Pharisees were legalists who taught that only obedience to the law and the traditions would please God and usher in His kingdom for Israel. The Sadducees were liberal in their thinking and denied that there would be such a kingdom on earth. They even denied the truth of the resurrection and the existence of angels.
Why would the Lord’s mention of leaven cause the disciples to discuss their lack of bread? Possibly they were planning to purchase bread on the other side of the sea, and they thought Jesus was cautioning them not to buy unclean bread, which Jews could not eat.
If they had remembered how Jesus had multiplied bread on two occasions, they certainly would not have worried. Their “little faith” kept them from understanding His teaching and depending on His power to meet their needs.
“Little faith” was one of our Lord’s favorite names for His disciples (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31). Of course, “little faith” is better than no faith. The disciples had many lessons to learn before they would graduate to “great faith.”
Are we of “little faith”? Are we progressing to “great faith”?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Oh, how dull and unfocused we can be as your children. But you pull us back with your relentless love. Your Holy Spirit teaches, convicts, challenges, guides and leads us by showing us the difference between living for self and living for You. The world pulls us to self and self gratification. YOU pull us more powerfully and lovingly to denying and losing self to gain renewed and restored life eternal. At last, we understand. I love you, Lord, with all my heart, mind and soul.
In Jesus Name, Amen