WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVE?
Wise Lord, may your Word be in my thinking today so that my thoughts may serve and honor you.
Read MATTHEW 16:1-12
The Demand for a Sign
16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
- Matthew 16:3 Some early manuscripts do not have When evening comes … of the times.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectConsider the most important thing you have done in the last week. Why exactly did you do that?
A neutral observer, knowing little of Pharisees or Sadducees, could suggest that the groups asking the questions here are being reasonable. To them, Jesus might seem rather brusque and unsympathetic. Surely it’s allowed to ask questions about our faith and to seek to know more of God. It is also fine to admit that we do not understand some teaching or apparent guidance. It Is better to be honest about these things. But what Jesus knows full well on this occasion is a reality we can also surely see. It is the motive of those doing the asking which angers Christ; the mindset of people so blatantly serving their own interests. Do we really suppose that the religious leaders look for a sign in order to give glory to God (v 4)? Do they sincerely hope that Jesus just might be the true Messiah?
As for Jesus’ own followers, can we wonder at the Lord’s frustration? The disciples seem to have forgotten his bountiful provision (Matthew 15:37); what he teaches in parables and in his vivid images (Matthew 13); and that, above most things, he values faith (Matthew 15:28). Be warned: this same Jesus might be less than gentle with us if we so willfully miss the point.
Where are aspects of your life where you might have been kidding yourself about your true motives?
Lord God, although I may not know what life will bring, I offer my praise to you. I claim the promise that whatever the circumstances, you are always with me.
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