Matthew 16:1-12 (10/11)

Matthew 16: Even if God raised a relative of yours from the dead to tell you about how bad hell is… you still wouldn’t believe.

★16:1The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. 2He replied,a “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign. Why? Aren’t signs supposed to acts as warnings, heeding us to submit to the truth and protect us from deception? When I near an intersection I keep my eyes wide open for a stop sign, pedestrian sign, lines on the road, something to tell me about the situation I’m in. Why does Jesus bust the Pharisees for seeking a sign? The following explanation has been running laps in my head for months.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19>, the rich man calls out to Father Abraham saying
‘send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ The rich man was praying that his brothers would receive a sign, a supernatural experience to warn them to heed the way they know they should go. What is Father Abraham’s response? He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.Yes, this is very interesting to me. In this parable we are told that whatever we think will be the kick in the pants we need to do right will actually fail. We have already been given that which we need to take heed. The warning signs have already been posted. Those seeking a sign beyond the sign that they have already been given are actually seeking a supernatural experience to satisfy their insatiable hunger to appease the senses. This explaination has been running laps in my head for quite a while as can be seen throughout my other blog entries in Matthew.
Now to add a little context (I probably should’ve have started with the context, but better late than never.) Ah yes, Jesus just fed 4000 people with 1 single lunch meal. So the principal is proved. A supernatural sign is doubted just as quickly as it is believed! Moses and the prophets are admittedly less sensually appeasing, however, the words of God have stood the test of time providing the pharisees and the people of today with the trump card of all signs.

✪ What can I learn? Well, I have actually been thinking about this for a long time. I’ve learned, experienced, and observed that in seeking a sign, we as humans often become side tracked. The sign we seek becomes an end in it’s self rather than a means to an end, with the end being the glorification of God. Example: I have a friend who is disabled and I pray to God, Father if you would heal my friend and let him walk I know he will believe in you and then he will go to heaven–you want him to go to heaven don’t you. I’m sort of bargaining with God, let’s simplify: Hey God, this guy might not like you, but he sure would like to walk, maybe if you give him the ability to walk again he will owe you for the rest of his life and then he will get to go to heaven just like you want. You can see how the glory is being shifted away from the Love and Holiness of God and onto the sign itself. Let’s simplify a little further shall we: God, let’s face it, you’re kinda boring. How am I supposed to convince my friend that he should be a christian, when all you’ve done is take away is mobility? It’s not really fair, can’t you just give him new legs, and then maybe he’ll like you again, although I can’t imagine why he would? It sounds harsh, but when we focus on the sign rather than the one the signs have pointed to we become idolaters! We long for the sign more than we long for God himself. You can see it on a daily basis, especially amongst Christian youth and many immature Christians – I myself have been a prime offender. They make a lot of noise, they have christian t-shirts, christian artwork, they are a fountain of biblical promises. They cry at the top of their lungs in their cars when no-one is looking “God touch me please, let me be used by you!” They are constantly saying “God told me that I should [insert a risky verb they enjoy doing]. They appear to love God more than everyone, BUT, they struggle to enjoy reading/listening to his word because it is continuously telling them to look at God, while they only want the next how-to for increasing the spiritual rush found in supernatural experiences.

Am I saying that supernatural = bad? NO! A big bold no for that one. As I’ve journeyed through this qualm, I began to look down my nose at those who are infatuated with the supernatural, while I (Mr. Knowbetter) sit steadily on a mountain of confidence snickering.  OOPS! Big Mistake! It was at this time of my life I was slammed with the most unsolicited, unexplainable and undeniable experience that I can only attribute to the Holy Spirit. I still can’t really explain it, but it did leave me repentant of the biggoted view I had over any claim of the supernatural.  My view is simply this: Read your bible and listen to the words of God, they will help you check your heart, so that when you encounter the supernatural, it does not become an idol in your heart but rather a reminder of who is in charge.

Last word. Jesus goes ahead and says something really weird. “none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” I think that’s weird for two reasons.

  1. What the heck is the sign of Jonah.
  2. Why would you say “none will be given” when you just fed 4000 people with 1 meal?

The sign of Jonah. Jonah decsends down into the belly of the fish and he is there for 3 days. He explains his experience inside the fish in Jonah 2 and calls his temporary accommodation “Sheol” which is the old testament word for hell. I think what Jesus is trying to say here is that the only sign they will be given is that Jesus is going to do just that! At his crucifixion, he is going to go to hell, for three days, and triumph over it returning to earth. Returning from hell would be the one and true sign of proof that Jesus is the messiah, God’s son. Hallelujah.

★16:11How 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.” What I find most interesting about this passage is that Jesus doesn’t just take out his Holy Spirit shot-gun and blow the yeast (Pharisees and Sadducees) in the head. He could have, and knowing the danger they pose to his bride we could assume that he may have wanted to. But instead all Jesus really does is warn us that it’s there and tell us to be on our guard. Why?

★16:12Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. One thing that has puzzled me about God’s plan fro some time now, is his allowance for evil to mix with good here on earth. In this verse we are told to “beware” of false teaching.” My immediate question is, why not just do away with all the false teachers? Another place where this question got me puzzled is Matthew 13:24-30 where Jesus tells us that God allows the wheat to grow with the weeds. It is still something that puzzles me too. I’m not writing it down here in my journal with any speculation of reasoning – only a question mark and a hallelujah! God is good and his plans are above ours. His strategies are glorious and when their glory is revealed, we will sing praises all the more!
O Lord. Spending time with you in your word is always very humbling. Like peering into very deep water and seeing nothing, but knowing that there is much to be seen if I could handle the depth. I’m sorry for my self righteousness Father. And I want to lay it down right here at your feet. You are God and you are mighty to fold the earth with your breath. You O God have conquered death, even in humility. Teach me your way – I long to be like you at any, every cost. capture my heart and mind God, I desire to submit to the entrancing beauty of your majesty. Again Lord, I am sorry for my many words I stumble over thoughts, searching for a way to glorify you with my mouth and mind. And while I sound like a fool O God, give to me a right heart to praise you over and over again in my life, in purity until I see you! Thank you Father for your patience with me. Thank you for you mercy to shed pure blood for me and my people, though we are rebellious and stubborn. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and cause me, and us, to submit humbly and be much inn Christ.

I do have a thought to submit over why our king allows yeast among us. The idea was actually inspired by a little girl, the daughter of a friend. After hearing the story of the Garden of Eden a sibling of hers asked “Why did God let the serpent into the garden?” A stunning question! The little girl replied “Because God loved the serpent.” Wow, what a bold thought! At first I prepared myself to correct the statement, but after thinking about it I could only ask myself the question “Could that be true?” If God loves us, a sinful and rebellious people, enough to humble himself and die for us conquering death itself, purely motivated by his love for us – is that the kind of God that can love Satan? Sinful, rebellious… we sound just like Satan. God’s word even implies that we are children of Satan until we are adopted into God’s family (John 8:39-46)
With that in mind. Could it be that God so loves the yeast, the evil ones, the children of the devil – that he allows them time so that some of them might come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Such a thing would bring glory to God, it is the story of the gospel and the gospel is God’s glorification through his creation as we know it.

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