TAKE CARE HOW YOU LISTEN
Lord, I believe what You say without requesting a sign from heaven.
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. 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.
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.
Our world is full of nominally religious people who corrupt children of God with their insincere remarks. Let’s make sure we’re not one of them.
Peoples’ questions and requests should not always dictate our response. Just because these Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus for a sign does not obligate him to perform one. He understands how hard it is to convince the skeptic and, although he provides miraculous intervention for the needy who call on him in faith, he tends to point the skeptics to signs readily available (3). An example is the sign of Jonah, prefiguring his resurrection. There comes a time to say, “examine the evidence” and move on.
But Jesus’ concern is that the attitude of these Pharisees and Sadducees might infect his disciples, who remain somewhat confused and lacking in understanding (5). Skeptics can undermine one’s faith, like a small amount of yeast having a disproportionate impact on the loaf. We see it, for example, when a relatively small number of secularists create enough noise to pressure principals into reducing or even prohibiting access of Christian groups into their schools. Similar influences leave young Christians struggling with apprehension over expressing their beliefs. It is encouraging that Jesus sticks with his dodgy disciples, reminding those who are “strong” to be patient with those who are “weak.” Jesus patiently reminds them of what they have witnessed and explains his concern that they need to avoid those who are trying to destabilize their trust in him.
It raises the question for us: what must we do to avoid the diluting of our faith? Are there gadgets that we need to switch off that gradually pollute our thinking? We don’t want to bury our heads in the sand, but some things erode our faith over time without us even noticing. If we do choose to watch or listen, we can ill afford to relax for a moment.
What are the unhelpful cultural influences that most infect the church (including the ones that are internal)? How can we set about combating these influences? What’s your role?
Lord, keep me away from the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
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