Mark: According To
Seeking a Sign and Leaven
I guess I can understand, but then again not really. What am I talking about? The beginning of our passage where it says, 11 “Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him.” As I said, I can understand, but then again not really. The Pharisees felt threatened by all this talk about rejecting traditions. Their lack of perception and lack of faith resulted in their questioning Jesus, wishing for a sign. Yet the Pharisees were learned men, knowing the Scriptures by heart and able to point to the 300 prophecies that predicted Christ as the messiah, yet for all this, their hearts as we learned in post 35a and 35b were defiled, clouded, unable to perceive the truth that stood before them.
I would imagine some of you that are reading this are teachers, either as professionals or at church or some other setting. There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing the light bulb turning-on when something you are trying to explain begins to make sense to the students you are teaching. What is frustrating is when you have tried and tried to get a concept across and the students just don’t understand. No-matter what angle you try, they just don’t get it.
From the time Christ started His ministry until this encounter with the Pharisees, the life of Christ and His ministry should have been enough for the Pharisees. But no, their hatred and jealousy, the defilement that was within them, prevented them from accepting Jesus for who he was. Jesus had modeled before them a life of service, compassion, mercy, a genuine interest in the people, and an understanding of the scripture that brought hope and peace to a people that were weighted down by the man-made traditions that were preached by the Pharisees, yet the Pharisees themselves failed to live up to their own preaching.
So, when they came to Jesus seeking a sign from heaven and testing Him, Mark makes it clear how disappointed Jesus was by stating: 12 But He sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”
With all the evidence that Jesus had laid before them, they still failed to see what Jesus’ true mission was and still looked for further proof as to who Jesus is. With all the evidence that has been placed before us, do we also fail to accept the mission of Jesus, seeking yet further proof that what Jesus taught and didn’t gave us a truer picture of the love our Heavenly Father has toward each of us on this fallen planet. Yet we continue to question who God the Father really is. We continue to vacillate between acceptance and rejection.
Jesus left the place where He was and got into the boat and started across the lake. 14 “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” Matthew in his gospel omits the word Herod, replacing it with Sadducees.
16 “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “it is because we have no bread.” 17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ They said to him, ‘twelve.’ 20 Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ and they said, ‘Seven.” 21 So he said to them, ‘How is it you do not understand?’”
In the Bible Leaven is synonymous with sin. When leaven, yeast, is mixed in a lump of dough the yeast or leaven causes the characteristics of the dough to change. It grows in size, similar to how sin grows when it enters the heart of a person. It grows and grows and grows changing the characteristics of the person that has become infected. So, what is Jesus trying to say? Herod as we have seen from an earlier post was a king that waffled between doing what was right and continuing to do that which was wrong until he finally fell to sin having John the Baptizer beheaded. In Matthew the Sadducees appear in the place of Herod because the Sadducees were consistently courting the favor of the ruling power and thus like Herod mixing the worldly with that which should have been free from worldly influence.
The disciples were kind of caught in the middle between the battle over traditions and worldly influence and doing what was right. Even with all they had witnessed, heard and even done in Jesus name, their hearts were still hardened, still full of defilement.
The evidence was before the disciples and to Mark’s gentile readers the evidence was before them and even for us today the evidence is before us, yet many fail to understand or comprehend who Jesus is. Jesus used the illustration of the food collected to show to his disciples that through him all of life’s needs can be supplied. As the Pre-incarnate Christ supplied food in the form of manna to the children of Israel, it is through Christ and His sustaining power that we are supplied both our spiritual food and physical food.
Christ’s ministry on earth was showing compassion for fallen sinners, relieving the suffering of the people by physical healing and showing where they added to their burden by all their man-made traditions. He showed them that waffling between the good things Christ offered and the world only brings heart ache and distress upon our lives. Jesus invites all to enlist in his service, to become servant leaders as he served others and lead them to a better understanding of the good news of the Gospel that had been the focus of the scriptures from the first words Moses penned to the last word that Malachi wrote, all tell the story of God’s un-matchless love for a fallen world.
As we near the middle of these lessons from the gospel of Mark, I hope if you haven’t already made a decision for Christ, that you will weigh the evidence brought before us as presented by Mark and accept Christ as your personal saviour.
If you have not accepted Christ as your Saviour, with the evidence that is before us, what are you waiting for?