Submission and Obedience


It had been an intense three days. Jesus healed many who were crippled, blind, lame, and mute among the huge crowd along the shore of Lake Galilee (Matthew 15:29-39). For three days the people had stayed with Jesus and experienced the miracles only Jesus could do, but now they were hungry.

Feeling compassion for them, Jesus performed another miracle. He turned seven loaves of bread and a few fish into enough food to feed four thousand men plus women and children. At meal's end, the apostles gathered seven LARGE basketsful of left-overs. Where they got the baskets to fill is a question for another day!

It was time to end this particular preaching mission, so Jesus sent the crowd home thoroughly satisfied with bread and fish. Then He climbed into a boat and headed to the region of Magadan.The apostles who were in the boat with Him talked among themselves. Was it from weariness or their generosity that they had given away all the left-over meal baskets to those in the crowd? They had forgotten to bring any food for themselves!

Obviously, the mainstay of the meal, any meal, was the nutritious whole-grain bread the people made daily. The apostles had none. When they reached the shore, they would have nothing to eat or to offer to Jesus, and they were tired and hungry.

After docking, it was during their intimate discussion about bread that Jesus interrupted them with a warning: "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matthew 16:6. He referenced the encounter He had just had with His rivals.

Immediately, the apostles misinterpreted what Jesus meant. They took Jesus' warning to be a veiled accusation against them, because they had not remembered to bring bread with them.

What they were seemingly unaware of was the confrontation made by Pharisees and Sadducees as soon as Jesus stepped on shore. After all, a huge crowd was very obvious even at a distance, and sighting all the people evoked jealousy in the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus was their competitor!

He was also their Master! When those religious leaders tried to corner Him, Jesus refused to give them a 'sign' to prove His divinity---except His coming resurrection. Then He rejoined His men and issued His word of caution about false teachers. "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Talk about miscommunication! The apostles silently accused Him of having a hidden agenda in His warning to them Of course, bread has leaven in it. That's what makes it rise. It's also a picture of sin, that's what the Jews omitted from their bread at the observance of Passover each year. So, therefore, they surmised that Jesus was talking about bread and He was hungry. They had forgotten to bring even a crumb!

How wrong they were. Jesus wasn't worried about bread! At one instance, Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.'" John 4:34. Even after fasting for 40 days and nights in the wilderness, Jesus' first concern was not to turn stones to bread so He could eat to satisfy His hunger. God's word and obedience to it was uppermost in His heart and mind.

Bread was eaten merely to maintain flesh and blood! He was concerned that His men not fall prey to false teachers and their subtle propagation of Scripture misinterpretation. It was a matter of spiritual life and death.

Jesus caught His apostles in their wrong reading of what He said to them. They thought He found fault with them. They were so absorbed with their own feelings that they failed to see the larger issue at hand and Jesus' great love for them and their welfare.

How frightening to misread the character of God! Yet, it happens every day. God is blamed for most and any mishaps that occur in peoples' lives. They make Him the ogre, the One who brings judgment into their lives. They fail to acknowledge or understand that it is God who gives rain to the just and to the unjust, who blesses us daily, who gives us life and breath. It was God alone who gave His only begotten Son to make our salvation possible.

When God is misjudged and wrongly accused, the person faulting God builds a wall of separation between himself and the only One who can help in their time of crisis. It is covert pride at its core. The person is more concerned about the problem and its negatives than about God and His promised help.

Yet, in His mercy, God continues to reach out to His accusers. He knows the source of the hate leveled against HIm. It's that leaven Jesus warned His disciples about. It's the thought the devil puts into the mind to separate people from their soul's Salvation. The problem they're wrestling with is simply a vehicle used by the enemy to propagate hatred for God and a reason NOT to believe Him for salvation and His deliverance and protection.

Beware of seeing wrong motives in your interpretation of events and people in your life. Beware that you don't wrongly blame God for actions and outcomes He is not guilty of doing. What an insult to the Holy God of Heaven! Ascribing wrong motives to Him only enlarges the chasm between you and God that will ultimately damn your soul for all eternity.

Remember this: Jesus is our Elder Brother, and the devil is the accuser of the brethren. Saten loves to accuse Him and get us to do the same thing. What a mockery of holy justice!

God is love. Trust His goodness and rely on Him to work out the details of your need. He will not fail you. Ever!!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
© Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.
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