August 21, 2005

Study of Mark: Mark 8:14-21

Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
(Mark 8:14-21 ESV)
This is an example of Jesus getting frustrated with His disciples. They don't get it.

They have just witnessed the miraculous feeding of five thousand men. They've been following Christ for a long time. And they still don't get it.

Christ is trying to teach them to rely on God. He wants them to see the principle to "Seek first the kingdom of God ... and all these things will be added to you." When we are doing God's work, He will provide.

It's a hard lesson to learn. We rely on ourselves for everything. We measure our success by how much money we earn each year, and how much stuff we can buy. We measure the success of our ministries by how many people we have in each service, how many members our church has, and how much offering we get each week. Numbers, numbers, numbers. If we focus on the message of the Gospel, we will have an impact on peoples' lives, and our ministries will be a success -- in God's sight, which is the only place it should matter to us.

We also get so focused on what we are doing that we forget that we can do nothing for God on our own. We do these things through the power of the Holy Spirit. If we would ever get out of the way and let God work in us, there is no telling what the impact could be.

The "leaven of Herod" is interesting, and is something that we need to pay attention to today. The Herodians were a political "party" that opposed Christ because they that saw the social aspects of His message were opposed to their political ambitions. They supported Herod (and his family) and favored Roman rule as opposed to "home rule" by the priests and a Jewish king.

The leaven that Christ speaks of is their concern for political power. The Herodians weren't a religious group, though they were not opposed to using religious groups for their own purposes -- they were often allied with the Sadducees, and the Gospels record times when they were supportive of the Pharisees. It doesn't take a Bible scholar to see the obvious parallel with our own time and political situation.

Nowhere does Jesus tell us not to be interested in how we are ruled. The ability we have to shape public policy in our nation was unheard of in Christ's time. Christians have a responsibility to vote according to Biblical principles, and our faith must shape our morality (as everyone's beliefs will shape their morality). Christ is cautioning the disciples to not become so focused on achieving political support for their cause that they loose site of the message of the Gospel and the calling that Christ gave them. We have a message that we must give out -- it is the message that can change society more than any law can. That i hould be our primary focus. Anything that takes us away from that focus is leaven. We cannot afford to be distracted.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 12:51 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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