GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus
The trapping and testing of Jesus continues. Now the test is the following: just show us again that you are from God, that you can produce a sign from heaven – namely manna from the sky as in the desert (Moses, Exod 16); the sun and moon stand still (Joshua, Josh 10); the stars to fight for Israel (Deborah and Barak, Judges 5), a thunderstorm from heaven (Samuel, 1 Sam 7), and fire from heaven (1 Kings 18). Of course, this request is a sham and a test and trick from the enemies of Jesus.
Matthew 16:8-128Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11How 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.”12Then 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.
1. The Natural Tendency to Want to See Signs to Prove God is at Work – Gideon. We really have to start with Gideon. In Judges 6, Gideon wanted physical evidence that God’s promise of intervention for Israel would happen again. Gideon actually asks for multiple signs: fire from a rock, the destruction of a pagan altar, and the famous fleece being wet or dry, all of which God did, to the deliverance of Israel. But the context for Gideon is he doubted, he was afraid and kept going back asking for physical signs. Actually, to ask for or expect a fleece today is more a sign of doubt than faith, more a challenge than a conviction God can work in his timing and manner. So historically, asking for signs is not the best example of either faith or guidance from God.
2. The Trap Set for Jesus by His Enemies – Asking for a Sign. This really was not a genuine request for a doubting disciple seeking reassurance from Jesus – It was a trap. Jesus called out the religious hypocrites: a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given except the sign of Jonah (Matt 15:4). The sign of Jonah was Jesus’ death, burial for 3 days and resurrection (Matt 12:39-40). And that miracle was coming, proof to the world of who Jesus was!
3. Understanding Both Our Adversaries and the Nature of Faith. Likening the Pharisees to leaven which permeates the whole loaf of bread, Jesus warned that these leaders, being evil, were and had permeated the whole of Israel and the proper understanding of the Kingdom of God.
So the first lesson is to carefully evaluate the Message and Messenger of who we listen to. The critics of Jesus will always explain away the Truth of who He is – calling his miracles “swamp gas,” “trickery” or the like. This is really just an excuse for unbelief. The second lesson is recognizing that we have enough in Jesus, in his demonstrated miracles and teachings, to confirm that He is from God and speaks the Truth as predicted in the Old Testament.
It follows, then, by Contrast, that we are next looking at the confession of Peter as to who Jesus was and is. The religious leaders with all their trapping and credentials – phony, as are some so-called religious leaders today. Peter, with no religious credentials, understands and affirms the Truth of the Kingdom, and for that, is praised as the one on whom the Church will be built. More on that next week.
— John MooreP