Signs and Religious Control

Can you believe it’s been 14 years since that movie came out? Stunning. I always remember that part of the movie. It still stands out as a great illustration of our own intentions getting in the way of our ability to hear from God.

Something akin to that sort of irony will be involved in the passages we’ll be looking at this Sunday as we read Matthew 15:29-16:12. It’s a big section, but I think you’ll see how it all goes together pretty well.

As you read through this section you’ll notice that, even connected with last weeks teaching, there is an ongoing bread theme. The Canaanite woman asked for bread crumbs. Jesus provides bread in the wilderness and then warns about the wrong kind of spiritual bread. There could be a whole teaching in that thematic vein alone…but that’s not where I went for this study.

In the section that closes out chapter 15, Jesus is doing all sorts of miracles, finishing off with a miraculous feast on a desert mountaintop. A quick glance at Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 25 provides a backdrop and reveals what’s going on here. When Jesus is performing all these miracles, what does it mean? How should it be read?

When we come to chapter 16, much like Jim Carry, the Pharisees and Sadducees ask for a sign – ignoring what has been happening right under their noses. They are intent on trying to control God’s plan. In what ways are we sometimes guilty of trying to dictate to God our own purposes? How can we keep from trying to steal the director’s chair in life?

in v 5-12, Jesus’ disciples are cast in a pretty dim light. They forgot bread and assume Jesus’ warning about the leaven of the Pharisees was about a lack of bagels. Leaven is used as a metaphor for an element introduced that changes it’s host into something else. Leaven changes bread dough, causing it to rise and inflate. In what way do you think the teaching of the Pharisees had done this as it touched Israel’s calling? What is Jesus warning his disciples, and us as well, about? What are the philosophies, politics and religious agendas in our world that could veer us off the path that God originally set the church on? What is lacking, according to v8, that can keep us from falling prey to these aberrant directions?

Once again, this will be a challenging and thought provoking passage to dig into. Hope to see you on Sunday!

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