Little Faith - Again
April 8, 2021
Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:6-12).
Again, Jesus chastised His disciples for not demonstrating a more mature faith in Him. We have seen this on a number of previous occasions. It is necessary to realize this was part of our Lord’s discipline of the disciples - Jesus needed to be tough with them because of what lay ahead for Him and for them. The disciples were clearly not aware of the painfully difficult road they would travel over the next few months leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, nor were they ready for the aftermath of that event. Coddling them would not give them what they needed mentally, emotionally, physically, and especially spiritually.
There are degrees or levels of faith. Christians begin with little faith but in time and with experience that faith grows stronger and more mature. Little faith in this instance is expected and not to be despised. But the disciples had been with Jesus nearly 2½ years and had seen, heard, and experienced far more than many Christians will experience in a lifetime. It is evident that the disciples had not progressed in faith as Jesus anticipated or expected.
What was the issue? Spiritual understanding. In His warning to the disciples regarding the ‘leaven’ of the Sadducees and Pharisees, the disciples should have understood the meaning of Jesus regarding the sin and hypocrisy of the elders of Israel. It was a metaphor or a mini parable they should have picked up on. They were so concerned about their lack of material resources and preparedness that they overlooked the weightier issue of spiritual preparedness.
What causes faith to be stunted and to remain immature? Yielding to sin. Not taking advantage of God’s opportunities to minister, serve, study, or witness. Doubting God’s Word. Focusing on the things of the world, the flesh, self, and not the things of God. Clearly the disciples were more concerned with not having enough food or for not being better prepared for their trip to Caesarea Philippi. This attitude would continue to dog their steps as they drew closer to the cross.
“Lord God, keep my eyes focused on You, my heart desiring the things You desire, and my spirit sensitive to the moving of Your Holy Spirit. Keep me aware of ‘the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees’ today so that I will not fall victim to their hypocrisy. To You praise and glory I ask, Amen.”