Sometimes I get pretty discouraged with the way I live. I declare and make commitments with God and say I’m going to follow Him here and do all these things there…and then I stumble and fall. I say “I’m going to follow Jesus, no turning back,” and then I keep glancing over my shoulder at the fun the rest of the world is having. I say, “I don’t want to be glorified, You take all the glory, Lord,” and then get a bit disappointed if I don’t get praised for my great services to God. I claim “God is Sovereign and can do the impossible,” and then think “This is so tough, there’s no way I’ll get through this.” But the Lord sure knows how to encourage me through this. He just shows me a bunch of other people who were just as stupid as I was. People that I’d look to as being “elite” followers of Christ. Those silly disciples.
Tax collectors and fishermen. Skilled men in their areas of work, but really didn’t know too much else. They were like 4-year olds when they were around Jesus. He constantly had to repeat things to them, constantly had pull them aside and explain things because He knew they were thoroughly and utterly confused. Remember when Jesus fed the 5000? Story goes that there were these huge crowds listening to Jesus, and they were getting hungry. Jesus asked how much food they had there, and He was told 5 loaves, and 2 fish. Jesus thought to himself “PERFECT”, gave thanks to God, and broke the bread and passed it out. He fed 5000 men (not including women and children), and all were satisfied. The very next chapter (according to Matthew [14/15]), they run into a similar issue. Now, I don’t know the exact time span between chapters, but it couldn’t have been too long. Again Jesus was speaking again to the people, and he saw that they were hungry. The disciples said there is no way they could get enough food to feed all the people. Jesus asked them how much they had, and they said 7 loaves, and a few fish. To the best of my knowledge, a few is more than 1 (technically, I believe its at least 3, because ‘a couple’ would be 2). In the end, we find out they fed 4000 people (not including women and children). So there were less people than a few moments earlier, and they had more food than they had the first time…and they still couldn’t believe. I mean, seriously. It was like a magician saying he’ll can guess your card out of a set of 100, if he gets 5 chances. And immediately after doing it, he then tells you he’ll do it again with a set of 25 cards with 12 chances. He did it the first time, and then he increased his odds and is going to do the same thing. What makes you think the first time was a fluke?
But here’s the kicker. In the very next chapter (Matthew 16), Jesus had to remind them about both miracles because the disciples were being stupid about bread and yeast again.
When they had 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 abong yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember he five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?How is it that you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about read. But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teachings of the Pharisees and Saduccees.
Am I the only one thoroughly entertained by all of this? Starting in chapter 13, Matthew records the telling of about 7 parables, with one of them specifically stating that “the kingdom of God is like yeast…” Then Jesus showed them through that He can do amazing things with very little, that it doesn’t matter how much bread you had, because He can still make enough to satisfy. First off, these disciples forget the bread. Can you imagine these 12 guys yelling at each other as to who’s responsibility it was to bring the bread? Thomas saying he told Matthew to bring it, Matthew blaming James, James saying it was right by Judas, etc. I mean, Jesus is probably going to get pretty upset, right? Like shout out, “Who’s the fool that forgot to bring the bread” and then make a public mockery of them. I think it was also a feeling of letting Jesus down, and the disciples were pretty embarrassed. Then, Jesus tries to teach them. He gives them a warning about the teachings of the Pharisees, and how they need to be careful with what they hear. Pharisees were known as “teachers of the law,” so I’m sure it was pretty much second nature to believe whatever they said as being true. But here, Jesus is giving them some important knowledge that they need to be on guard, because those Pharisees and Sadducees don’t truly understand the truth. But the disciples were so caught up in themselves and their forgetfulness and stuff that they just thought Jesus was rebuking them about bread. Jesus must have flipped out when He heard that. I mean, He’s giving them words to live by, and they are so off with their interpretation. I feel like Jesus’ speech was like Allen Iverson’s rant about practice:
Except everywhere you see “practice” Jesus said “bread”. And “the game” could be “life”, and “franchise player” can be “Son of God” (I’d rewrite the whole thing, but this post is getting large). The best part is that at the end, Jesus repeats the same thing he said from the beginning…”be on your gaurd against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” He didn’t re-phrase it, He didn’t explain it, He didn’t break it down for them in a simpler way. All he did was refocus them on His purpose and capabilities, and then just said it again. And then the disciples understood. It’s not that they weren’t able to understand, it’s just that they weren’t thinking straight.
I see the disciples as being so stupid, so many times. But I am just like them. I experience the goodness of grace of God, and in the exact scenario at a later time, I question whether God can overcome it again. I just don’t truly realize how powerful God is. And then, God tries to teach me things, and I am so focused on my own problems, my own issues, my own mistakes, that I don’t truly get the point He’s trying to make. I become totally consumed with my life that I don’t see His. only when I’m able to take my eyes off myself and stare straight at God do I really hear what He’s saying. Praise God He shows the same patience (if not more) with me as He did with those silly disciples. Praise God.