Jun 1, 2022
We can be aware of deception by holding close to Jesus, who doesn’t give up on us! Hear Jesus’ heart for His followers today as we study Matthew 16:1-12 and Mark 8:11-25.
Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders’ podcast. I’m your host Julie Jenkins. June 2022 is upon us, which means that our June event is happening this Saturday, June 4th! I hope that you are planning on joining us for a morning of worship, teaching, fellowship, and just plain fun. This free event is at Keiser University in West Palm Beach and will begin at 9:00am. If you are coming to the event, make sure you bring some cash, because have some great raffle items. And if you can’t make it in person, you can join us on Facebook Live at 9:30am! As we all learned during covid, community CAN be built via technology. We have leaders from around the world who will be joining you on chat during the event. To find out more or register to attend in person, please visit our website – womenworldleaders.com
Today, on Walking in the Word, we will continue our systematic walk through the gospels as we ask God to reveal what He wants us to know and put into practice. Today’s scripture includes Matthew 16:1-12 and Mark 8:11-25.
Let’s pray before we begin…
Dear Most Gracious and Loving God – as we come before you today, we ask that you cleanse our hearts and our minds that we might hear directly from you as we study and share. God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you. I thank you for always reaching each of us where we are, and it is with anticipation that we will hear from you that we delve into this study. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
As we have been traveling with Jesus and His disciples, we have most recently seen Jesus’ ministry to the Gentile world. We pick up today on their travels back into Jewish territory when they are met with BOTH the Pharisees and the Sadducees – working together to come against Jesus’ and His ministry.
I don’t think we, in this modern era, can fully grasp what it meant to have these two groups team up, who under ordinary circumstances were rivals.
The name Pharisee actually means “separated” and was appropriate because the Pharisees separated themselves from the ordinary Jewish person by strictly observing laws and manmade traditions. We often think of the Jewish people as spiritual – the Pharisees were ultra-spiritual. They set themselves on a pedestal. They clung to the teachings of the God, believing in the Old Testament, miracles, the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, and God’s final judgement – and their error was in making the pathway to God full of legal ramifications.
The Sadducees, on the other hand, were the modernists of the day. The did not believe in miracles or resurrections. They did believe in a Messiah to come, but only as a political giant, not a spiritual manifestation of God.
We’ve all seen groups of people with completely different motives and beliefs side together against a common enemy throughout history, and this was a perfect example. The Pharisees and the Sadducees joined forces to confront Jesus.
With that in mind, let’s begin in Matthew 16, verse 1, from the New Living Translation…
16 One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.
If you’ve read the Bible, been to Sunday School, or have been listening to this podcast, you know that Jesus had already performed MANY miracles. You also know that this is not the first time these leaders demanded a sign. The wording here says that they demanded a “miraculous sign from heaven.” They were looking for an apocalyptic sign – a blessing from heaven on Jesus signaling that He was the answer to Israel for their political deliverance.
One theologian equated this demand with the devil’s temptation in the desert before Jesus began His ministry. Could Jesus have taken over right then and there? Finally and completely delivering the Jewish people and destroying their enemies. Of course He could have! But that was not the plan. And Jesus knew that if anyone was truly sold out to God, they would not need this “proof” of who He was, but they would see all the unmistakable miraculous events that had already occurred and would have realized their significance. These individuals had CHOSEN not to believe, and they were trying to set a trap for Jesus. Verse 2…
2 Jesus replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; 3 red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times![a] 4 Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.[b]” Then Jesus left them and went away.
Jesus promised a sign to come…that of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of a whale for three days. Left for dead. But God had work for Jonah to do, and after three days, he emerged. This was foreshadowing THE biggest miracle – Jesus’ resurrection from the dead by which He would conquer the power of death for all those who believed in Him – once and forever more.
Mark 8:12 tells us that as Jesus answered, “he sighed deeply in his spirit.” If you are a parent who has watched your children make poor decisions, you may understand the heartbreak behind Jesus’ sigh.
The fact that Jesus turned from them and went away is, to me, the scariest part of this whole interaction. God has bent over backwards to reveal Himself to EVERY human on earth. He has dotted every I and crossed every T. He has left no stone unturned. When we call to God, He is there. Wherever we go, He is there. In all of creation, He is there. But there can come a point when we have chosen over and over again NOT to see Jesus, that we will be unable to see Him. When we have hardened our hearts so strongly against Him, that our hearts can no longer receive Him.
If you want to hear from Jesus, let me encourage you to PRACTICE hearing from Him. Practice listening and obeying!
I was lying in bed at 4:30 this morning, and I heard God tell me to get up and write. I questioned Him. God do you really want me to get up and write now? He said, yes, I really want you to get up and write now. And so I did. Not because I wanted to write…I actually REALLY wanted to sleep. But I also really do want to hear from God – and I don’t EVER want to put up a barrier that stops me from hearing Him. I don’t ever want to intentionally not listen, causing my hearing to no longer acute. So when God says jump – I jump. Even if that means to jump out of bed when I am really tired.
“Jesus left them and went away.” – There will come a time when Jesus will turn away from unbelievers. If you have given your life to Christ, you can be assured that Jesus will NEVER turn away from you – the best is yet to come! But if you haven’t yet given your life to Christ, please do so, because we never know when Jesus WILL turn away and it will be too late. Giving your life to Christ is as easy as admitting that you are a sinner, accepting God’s gift of forgiveness, and following Him to the best of your ability in His power. If you would like someone to walk through this process with you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As we continue reading Matthew 16, verse 5 is an aside that sets the scene.
5 Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread.
But while the disciples are discussing their hunger, Jesus is still focused on the interaction with the Pharisees and the Sadducees…and He warns the disciples…
6 “Watch out!” … “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
The disciples, still entrenched in their own conversation about bread, think Jesus’ mention of yeast is referring to their lack of food…verse 7…
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.’”
You may know that yeast in the Bible is often a symbol of evil or wrong teaching, signifying that a little bit of evil or wrong teaching can take root and spread among many. But until my preparations for today’s teaching, I didn’t understand this fully. I’ve made bread…I’ve ripped open the tiny yeast packet and put a bit into the dough and then watched the dough rise nice and fluffy, ready for baking. So I recognized the correlation that a little bit of yeast can effect a whole loaf of bread. But I didn’t realize the significance of the yeasts ability to spread from a cultural and historical perspective.
You may not be surprised to learn that in Jesus’ time, they didn’t have little packets of yeast in their kitchen cabinet. I honestly had never considered this. Instead, this necessary ingredient was grown by holding back a portion of the dough before they baked it. The piece of dough would be stored appropriately and treated with juices to enhance fermentation, and then used as a base to prepare dough for the following week. Then the process would continue…a small part of THAT dough would be reserved to grow the leaven for the next week. This process was full of opportunities to spread illness. If the dough EVER got tainted, it would infect much more than a single loaf of bread.
The effects of evil and wrong teaching extend far beyond ourselves and our families, and they extend beyond today. We all can point back to an incident of wrongdoing in our lives that changed us forever. Such is the danger of evil.
Mark records Jesus’ words to the disciples in chapter 8:17-18 … “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’[a] Don’t you remember anything at all?
In our Christian walk, Jesus implores us to seek understanding, to watch for what God is doing, to look for His miracles, to listen for His wonders, and to remember His blessings.
As if to underscore this, although Jesus would not perform a miracle for the Pharisees and Sadducees who had hardened their hearts against Him, Jesus’ love and care continued to exude to those who came to Him with an open heart. Mark continues in verse 22…
22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.
Sometimes it takes awhile for us to see Jesus clearly! At first healing, the blind man could see only figures. But as he held close to Jesus, his sight was completely restored.
Even after Jesus fed thousands in front of their eyes, the disciples still argued about who forgot the bread in a panic that they might not have food to eat on their journey. But as they held close to Jesus, he showed them that He IS our complete sustenance who will provide for us in all ways.
If you are having a difficult time understanding all that Jesus is, that is ok. Keep seeking Him, and He will overwhelm you with His character and love. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you, to give you wisdom, to open your eyes and your heart and to make you teachable. Respond to His call, and His voice will get louder and clearer as He calls you away from evil and wrong teaching and calls you to embrace Him, God’s only Son, our pure source of truth and strength.
Dear Most Holy God – we thank you for your warnings, your
wisdom, and your love. As we walk through our day, meet us where we
are. Make your voice loud and give us eyes to see, ears to hear,
and courage to respond. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.