Friday 20 September 2013

Matthew 16:1-12 - A kind of yeast

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Here in Matthew 16:1-12, Jesus continues to hear from the Jewish religious elite and is misunderstood once again by his disciples.

The Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed over some things, but both groups understood that if someone was thought to be the Messiah (or claimed to be the Messiah), there were certain tests to be made and a proper process to go through. That process begins with observing and moves on to testing, and that's what they are doing in this passage.

There are certain signs that only the Messiah would be able to do, healing a Jewish leper, casting out a dumb demon, giving sight to a person born blind for example. They come to Jesus and ask for a sign. They are demanding proof that he is the Promised One.

Jesus listens but gives an answer that they would have found evasive and unsatisfactory. He knows they've already seen the signs yet they remain unconvinced. They are looking for the Messiah, but now that he's among them he is not what they expected or wanted. Does Jesus sometimes not match our expectations? As his followers, do we match the expectations that others have of us? Are we enigmatic, as he is? Do we stretch people's expectations? Is it useful to be an enigma? If so, how? Why?

The truth was enigmatic for the disciples too. How often do we misunderstand Jesus? How often does he speak spiritual truth while we just hear unspiritual practicalities that miss the point he's making? There's often a "Huh?" factor, isn't there? His ways are not our ways.

Yeast changes everything it is mixed with. If we absorb it, Pharisaic thinking will change simple truth into complex, analytical, religious nonsense. We cannot afford to be contaminated. We need to be aware and we need to be wary. Let's not make Jesus complicated. Let's take him at face value; let's become more like him; the Holy Spirit will lead us into all the truth.

Do verses 9 and 10 clarify yesterday's speculations about multiple feedings of thousands? See how one passage casts light on another.

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