Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stuck on bread... a lesson of grace.

I've been camping out in Matthew 16:5-12, the story of when Jesus teaches the disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees. If you're not familiar with this story, let me recap it for you...!

The scene: Jesus has just fed the 4,000 people with 7 loaves and 3 small fish. Seven large baskets of bread were left over. Then Jesus gets in a boat and travels to the region of Magadan where he faces questioning from the Pharisees and Sadducees. (These religious men were testing Jesus, much like Satan tested Jesus in the desert. They wanted him to perform a sign to prove himself God.) 16:1-4. Scripture says that "He left them and went away." In the next scene, we see the disciples going to the other side of the sea. Don't miss this next sentence: ...but they had forgotten to bring any bread. (5)

We are talking about the 7 baskets full of leftovers they had cleaned up after the gigantic luncheon! Apparently it was their job to bring the bread, their responsibility, their small duty for the day - and they had forgotten to bring any bread... oops! Big mistake right? I mean, what will they eat for dinner tonight? They were supposed to be in charge of the dinner and they've blown it.

I'm imagining they were carrying 7 baskets full of guilt at this moment!

So Jesus immediately begins discussing bread, warning them against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees - how a little leaven works through the whole batch of bread.

But the disciples are filtering everything through their bread mishap and not hearing the spiritual warning lesson. I love their response in verse 7; you can almost hear their whispers "He said that because we did not bring any bread." Ha! In other words, He's talking about bread because He knows our great mistake and He's not happy with us.

Jesus hits the reset button. "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (8-11)

Don't miss this. 1.The disciples are caught up in the weight of their mistake and they're not hearing Jesus' important warning. 2. He isn't phased by the forgotten bread. He's God. And He proves His point when he tells them to let go of their mistake and focus on the important stuff. The stuff that will protect them from fanatically dangerous religious leaders.

I love that Jesus goes one step further to put their minds at ease when He reminds them that He fed thousands of people on a few loaves of bread. He's saying, "I've got dinner covered, so relax and focus on this important lesson that I have for you."

OK so how do we apply all this to our own relationships with Jesus? I got to thinking about all the mistakes that I make in a day.  I forget our tithe check. I say something that hurts my child. I don't return a phone call when I say I will. I burn dinner. All the "oops" and "I forgots" and "I'm so sorrys" that happen in a day's time can drown out my perspective of God's grace. They seem to plug up my ears, making it difficult to hear God's voice. And they fog my brain, making it hard to tell myself the truth. And the weight of carrying large baskets of guilt gets heavier and heavier. Pretty soon I am no longer focused on Jesus, but on myself and all the things that I could have done better.

Oh how this passage shows us that Jesus isn't moved by our mistakes. When we 'forget the bread', so to speak, He says, forget about the bread and fix your eyes on the Bread of Life! And when our bread baskets are full of guilt, He says "Cast your burdens on me because I care for you!" (1Peter 5:7) Jesus knows we are mistake makers! Isn't that wonderful?! Our mistakes will never derail our Creator. So we shouldn't get derailed either!

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