When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 'Be careful,' Jesus said to them. 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'
They discussed this among themselves and said, 'It is because we didn't bring any bread.'
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, 'You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 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.'
Are Christ's three rebukes of His disciples also pertinent for churches today? Because by this time in His ministry, His followers had seen great miracles. But for reasons only God can explain, their eyes, ears and brains proved less than constant. Surely, our constancy is challenged, too.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Do you or your church share these errors?
1) Lack of faith in the Lord's provision: Worry about having enough bread is distrust in God as Provider. Do some churches run like businesses, focusing chiefly on their own needs? But when Jesus commissioned His men toward their first missionary trips without any supplies of their own, He was teaching dependence on Him.
2) Ignorance through external focus: When worship becomes superficial and our attention span is reduced, when a sermon lasts 40 minutes and going deeper takes too much time, when church leaders offer man-made bread and its yeast is not from God's Spirit, when congregations rise the wrong way, then they can become blind, deaf and dumb.
3) Forgetfulness of past miracles: After Jesus fed the five thousand and wanted to feed four thousand more, His men forgot the first miracle when their Lord ordered the second one. Remarkably, amnesia set in and they questioned how it might be done. Why they or we forget... I don't know. But here is God's mind-clearing Advice:
'Keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons' (Deuteronomy 4:9).
'Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the Judgments from His Mouth' (1 Chronicles 16:12).
Through the Gift of the Holy Spirit, A.D. disciples have a Helper: 'But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you' (John 14:26).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Rehearse God's Lines again and again. Repeat Them to yourself and your kin. Remember His acts in the Bible and the works you've personally seen. Keep them in the center of your heart. Place them at the forefront of your mind, and hold them on the tip of your lips.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Matthew 16 series.