Mark and I are part of a teen / young adult community Bible study that meets each week. While going through the book of Matthew this year I have been reminded to reset my perspectives from the world’s ways to God’s ways.
The Gospels are good plumb lines for life!
Jesus came to show us God the Father through His teachings, by the stories He told, and through the miracles He performed. Jesus taught both to the mind and to the heart so that we wouldn’t just know about God, but so that we would know God.
God has given us free will and we have the freedom to know about God or to know God.
Jesus came to teach us the difference.
We have the choice to allow our faith to go from our minds to our hearts.
When we believe with our minds we will try to follow God’s commands in our own power, we are limited by our own understanding, we have a work-based faith that keeps us focused on our own efforts to please God.
The religious leaders always challenged Jesus’ teachings because He didn’t do the works they did. But Jesus didn’t come to do away with the Law, He came to fulfill it.
The Pharisees and Sadducees were examples of those who believed in God and obeyed the Law, but their hearts were far from Him.
The Old Testament shows God’s love and blessing for His people. It shows that He is for His people and is able to supernaturally care for them and protect them from their enemies. But, it also shows we can’t live an obedient life on our own. No matter how many rules we obey, we can’t measure up to God’s standards. We needed a Savior!
Now, in the New Testament, we have the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. Jesus spent three years reprogramming the disciples, teaching them it isn’t about the letter of the Law, but about the condition of the heart.
We don’t obey God to earn His love.
We are loved by God and therefore we obey.
I’m thankful that the disciples were so much like me! Jesus used the every day situations they faced together as teaching opportunities for His disciples and then had them written down so we can learn from them as well.
“Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Jesus heard His disciples’ concern about having no bread to eat and chose to use this as a teaching opportunity. When they heard Jesus’ warning about yeast they thought there was something wrong with the bread of the Pharisees. They became upset that they wouldn’t have anything to eat and began to blame each other for not packing lunches.
This causes me to consider how I respond to the teachings of Jesus in light of the situations I face. How do I interpret Jesus’ teachings? How do I apply them to my life?
Jesus didn’t give a list of do’s and don’ts. He used the physical things of this world to teach spiritual lessons.
When Jesus heard their response, their arguing about not having bread to eat, He said, You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread?
What was it about their response that showed their faith was little?
Lack brought fear.
Fear brought arguing.
Arguing limits faith.
Then Jesus said something that I’m sure He says to me so often, “Don’t you understand even yet?”
Jesus specifically chose those twelve men to be with Him 24/7 so He could teach them all they needed to know so that when He completed His work here on earth and went back to heaven they would be able to carry out the Gospel to all the world.
Jesus wanted them to get it!
Jesus wants us to get it!
He took this moment to review several lessons He had recently taught them…
“Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up?”
Jesus reminded them that they need not worry about their physical bread. He reminded them that they didn’t need to be afraid of not having anything to eat. He had already told them in the Sermon on the Mount that they weren’t to worry about their food, that as He feeds the birds, He will feed them. He showed them at the feeding of the crowds, He is able to take the little they have and produce more than enough.
Jesus was teaching them that faith in Him is meant to eliminate all fear of lack, and bring complete trust for all their needs.
Jesus was teaching them to look past the obvious, and look at the deeper meaning.
Jesus was teaching them that their hearts are more important than their bodies.
“Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread.”
What is it about our thinking that is keeping us from understanding Jesus?
Jesus wants us to think like Him.
Jesus wants us to have faith to see things from His perspective.
“So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”
Jesus is so patient with us. How many times has He needed to tell us again? He understands we are prone to see things from an earthly perspective, but He wants us to get it. God wants us to fully understand what He is saying to us, not just to know it in our minds, but to understand it with our hearts so that we live in His truth. He is relentless to remove all fear and doubt so that they don’t keep us distracted with the things we become consumed over or argue about. He wants to develop our faith so that we are willing to hear and understand the deeper meaning that will truly help sustain us, even more than our daily bread!
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.”
This time they got it!