Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
The Pharisees were never satisfied. They wanted to trick Jesus, and to do that they asked for a sign from Heaven. Healing the sick, making the blind see (what no one had ever done before), making the lame walk and become productive to society, raising the dead were not good enough miracles for them. As always, Jesus knew their hearts, and replied to them in kind. “You can look at the sky and tell what the weather will be like for that day, but you can’t read the signs of the times?”
How foolish He made them look. Jesus pointed to Jonah. This would be His own resurrection from the dead, and His Gospel being preached to the Gentiles through the Apostles. Jesus never said it out loud, but the ridiculousness of these learned, academics of the Old Testament could not apply their own knowledge to what they were seeing and hearing about Jesus. Even the common people could put two and two together, but yet, even they fell from the mark.
I love how Matthew sort of sneers at the Pharisees and Sadducees by noting that Jesus left them standing there and departed. That’s a two-fold separation from them. He didn’t quarrel with them, but left them as a shirt beyond repair. They had eyes but wouldn’t see, and ears but wouldn’t hear.
Then He warns His disciples, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."
Though that statement said nothing about the lack of provisions (no bread), the disciples thought Jesus was chiding them for forgetting to bring bread with them. Jesus heard them, and basically said, “Pish, posh! You of puny, short memories with a lack of confidence in Me. Don’t you remember the 5,000 fed and the 4,000 fed with all those leftovers?”
Then Jesus does an extraordinary thing. He didn’t explain the statement, but repeated it, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” By doing this, Jesus was saying they had all the facts, all they needed was a little brain juice to figure out what he meant. And they did figure it out.
A key fact here is that all Christians are in most danger from hypocrites. These are pretend Christians who pretend devotion, and pretend to seek truth often twisting the Word of God into soft, fluffy, feel-good stuff teaching lies instead of truth. Believers are automatically wary of people openly hostile to God. But those insidious, power seekers can wound to the quick, and never look back.
How about it? Do you know any Pharisees and Sadducees manifesting in your church today? How does one deal with that kind of person? What if that person has blinded the church leadership? What should you do about it?
Compared to leaven, they sour, swell, and spread just like leaven; they ferment whatever they touch.
Take a lesson from how Jesus treats His disciples here. He instantly forgave their carelessness for not bringing bread with them. It is a crucial point because they probably were all extremely hungry, but compared to their “little faith,” it was nothing. We should do the same for our children and others we are teaching as well as going to church with, and living beside. We need to quit worrying about those things we think are major disruptions, and make sure those close to us have a good understanding of Christ and saving faith. Jesus promised to provide for and fill all our needs… maybe not everything we may want, but certainly all we need and then some. Remember there were baskets and baskets of leftovers.
This means for us to distrust Jesus, and to worry while in difficulties and trials is blatant evidence of weak faith. It is okay to doubt, but it is not okay to wallow in it.
Another key here is that Jesus teaches by the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. Believers today need only ask for wisdom and understanding, and the Holy Spirit will explain as much as we are willing, ready, and able to understand. Remember Jesus left the Pharisees standing there, while He had compassion and patience with those who believed Him.
Who do men say that I am?” He refers here to the common people whom the Pharisees despised. Jesus had never plainly said, “I am the Messiah, the Son of God.” He left it to people to discern who He was from His works. Herod said He was John the Baptist risen from the dead. Others saw the great works that He did and said He was Elijah. Yet all the miracles that Jesus worked were extraordinary. The doctrines He taught held such definite truth. These, not Jesus, plainly spoke of who he really was.
Those disciples who walked with Him, ate with Him, listened to Him pray, and watched Him perform miracles, and even performed miracles themselves would have a greater knowledge of the Christ. They declared He was the Messiah, contrary to what everyone’s notion that the Messiah would be an earthly warrior king come to redeem the Jews from the oppressive Gentile Romans.
This confession that Jesus was the Messiah was crucial. Without it, Christ could not trust the disciples to become Apostles who would teach and guide others. They had to understand the truth. Jesus had indeed taught them well. He called Himself the Son of Man, but Peter declared He was the Son of God. That is why Jesus said he wass the little rock upon which He would build His church, the Bride of Christ. All because the disciples discerned correctly and declared outwardly who Jesus really was.
Christianity is a revealed religion in that only those drawn to the Father through Jesus the son can be true Little Christs, or Christians. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to each person, and those persons have a choice to either believe or not believe. Their belief or unbelief does not make Jesus True or False. Truth is not relative. Yes, saving faith is the gift from God, but believing is a choice. Abraham’s belief or faith was accounted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:9).
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. Romans 4:5
Now because of the declaration Jesus could move on to the thing that He had to do for all humankind.He had given them the keys to the Kingdom 1) The Key of Doctrine; and 2) The Key of Discipline.
Jesus spent so much of His time with His disciples on these two keys. Only later after He had ascended would the disciples receive the Holy Spirit to help them remember everything they were taught, and to be disciplined enough to have that staying power of faith to die for the Gospel.
They would prohibit and would permit (bind and loose) through what Jesus had taught. Some things that were forbidden (certain meats declared unclean in the Old Testament) were now permitted as good food. Some things that had been allowed in the Old Testament such as divorce were now forbidden. Some scholars say that because the Torah was rolled up and bound with a string, Jesus was giving authority to the disciples to have the keys to the chest where the scrolls were kept, and to loosen the scrolls to teach from then bind them up after teaching. I think this explains exactly how free believers are to open and read the Bible, and that the Holy Spirit is right there helping us to understand it. Then we have a responsibility to teach the truths we find there, not to make up our own. We are all ministers of the faith, we all have the command to go forth in our daily living sharing the Gospel and making disciples.
When we understand that we cannot do this within our own power, but only with the power of God, the task is easy and the burden is light.
"'Winging It" from
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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