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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Missing the Point

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:17-21, NIV)

Jesus used everyday events as teaching moments.

The disciples are evidently very concerned about their next meal when they realize they’ve left the food behind that they had gathered from the feeding of the 4,000. They’re down to one loaf for the twelve of them plus Jesus.

Jesus jumps into the conversation by connecting bread to leaven, warning His disciples against taking in the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod.

It’s as though Jesus stepped on the accelerator and went from 0 to 100 mph in 10 seconds, and the disciples are still left at the starting line. Their minds don’t follow Him. They’re still all wrought up over the lack of bread, and He’s left them miles behind.

They think He’s talking about the bread that goes into their stomachs when He’s talking about the leaven that goes into their minds.

So what exactly is Jesus saying and how does it apply to us?

The Pharisees and Herod were on opposite sides of the political and religious spectrum, but they have something in common: the leaven of wanting temporal power. Each wanted to run everything.

But Jesus did not come to establish a new political party. He’s not interested in political power. He later tells Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).

At this point in Mark 8, the disciples have not grasped what Jesus would later say to Pilate. So Jesus probes them with a series of questions. Twice He sternly asks, “Do you still not see or understand? ... Do you still not understand?”

They were concerned about running out of bread. Jesus wasn’t. He had demonstrated that, if need be, He could multiply bread. He reminds them that both times when He had broken the loaves they had gathered up plenty of leftovers.

The reason for the stern questioning lies in the fact that shortly after this Jesus will ask the disciples, “Who am I?” (Mark 8:29). When they answer correctly, He begins to tell them about His approaching death (8:31). Peter doesn’t want to hear it (8:32,33), so Jesus rebukes him and then invites the disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.

The leaven of the Pharisees and Herod rejects self-denial, cross-bearing and losing your life so that you may gain it.

I wonder if Jesus would bring the same rebuke to us as He did to His disciples. What if we prayed more and politicked less? What if we paid far greater attention to building His kingdom than which party will win the next election? What if we focused on the conversion of our neighbor to Jesus than converting him or her to our political point of view?

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me to live with Your priorities. It’s so easy for me to be partisan on issues that do not matter for eternity. Help me to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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