Week 72 | Sections 80, 81a,b
Recorded 11/20/15

Caution: Poisoned Religion

More than two and a half years into his ministry1 and the Pharisees still resist Jesus’ person, claims, and authority. Their behaviors indicate that they are more concerned with maintaining power than proclaiming the truth. Their’s is a hazardous and poisoned religion – man-centered, and destructive to the soul.


Scripture:

Section 80 | Return to Galilee and encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 15:39,16:1-4
39 Then2 he sent away the multitudes, got into the boat, and came into the borders of Magdala.3 1 The Pharisees4 and Sadducees5¯6 came, and testing him,7 asked him to show them a sign from heaven .8¯9  2 But he answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 In the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but you can’t discern the signs of the times!10 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there will be no sign given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” He left them, and departed.
Mark 8:9b-12
9b Then he sent them away. 10 Immediately he entered into the boat with his disciples, and came into the region of Dalmanutha. 11 The Pharisees came out and began to question him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, and testing him.

12 He sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Most certainly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

Section 81a | Warning about the error of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians

Matthew 16:5-12
5 The disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread.11 6 Jesus said to them, “Take heed 12 and  and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 13  7 They reasoned among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 Jesus, perceiving it, said, “Why do you reason among yourselves, you of little faith, ‘because you have brought no bread?’ 9 Don’t you yet perceive, neither remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 11 How is it that you don’t perceive that I didn’t speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

12 Then they understood that he didn’t tell them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mark 8:13-21
13 He left them, and again entering into the boat, departed to the other side. 14 They forgot to take bread; and they didn’t have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 He warned them, saying, “Take heed: beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” 16 They reasoned with one another, saying, “It’s because we have no bread.” 17 Jesus, perceiving it, said to them, “Why do you reason that it’s because you have no bread? Don’t you perceive yet, neither understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, don’t you see? Having ears, don’t you hear? Don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They told him, “Twelve.” 20 “When the seven loaves fed the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They told him, “Seven.” 21 He asked them, “Don’t you understand yet?”

Section 81b | Healing a blind man at Bethsaida

Mark 8:22-26
22 He came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him, and begged him to touch him. 23 He took hold of the blind man by the hand, and brought him out of the village. When he had spat on his eyes, and laid his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything. 24 He looked up, and said, “I see men; for I see them like trees walking.” 25 Then again he laid his hands on his eyes. He looked intently, and was restored, and saw everyone clearly. 26 He sent him away to his house, saying, “Don’t enter into the village, nor tell anyone in the village.”


Group Dialog:

  1. As most medicinal products and treatments available have labels warnings and negative side effects, what side effects and warnings are inherent to a) religion and b) being a disciple of Jesus.
  2. In what ways have routines and temporal needs impeded your focus on things eternal, and interrupted a missional life (phase 5)?
  3. How do people today trade the God’s mercy, truth, and grace for man-made traditions and rituals? In what way have you done this?
  4. Are the decisions you make in life for your own benefit or for God’s glory? Are there ‘benefits’ which you would be wiser to forfeit rather than forfeit the well-being of your soul?

Learning Objectives:


Photo: A warning label on an auger. Here are a few more humorous warning labels:

  • A fishing lure: Harmful if swallowed.
  • An electric router: This product not intended for use as a dental drill.
  • Underarm deodorant: Do not spray in eyes

Study Notes:

  1. This event is in the middle of Phase 5b
  2. The chronological context of this reading is just after feeding the four thousand (section 79b).
  3. The distance across the lake from the region of Decopolis to Magdala is at the widest segment, about 7.5miles.
  4. The Pharisees were most often associated with the ‘working class’. Many had other occupation from which they earned their wage and provided for their families. They revered the Torah but they insisted that their religious traditions were be equally important for the safeguarding of one’s soul. They believed in angels, the resurrection of the soul, and in God’s ability and evident supernatural intervention in the lives of humanity.
  5. It is thought that the Sadducees ordered themselves about 200 B.C.. This was during the time between the recorded Old and New Testaments when The Maccabees controlled Judah. The order lasted until the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.. The Sadducees mostly aristocracy, often serving as the High Priest and Chief Priests. They had become accustomed to benefiting financially from the sale of sacrificial animals and from money changing. They affirmed the Torah, but their materialistic vice distorted their priorities. They denied the existence of angels, the resurrection of the dead, and supernatural forces.
  6. The Pharisees have now joined together with the Sadducees which only illustrates the shared enmity both groups had against Jesus, for they were even at odds with one another. The Sadducees wanted to do away with Jesus because he interfered with their profiteering in the Temple (turning tables, scattering the sheep). The Pharisees wanted Jesus dead because he would not follow their traditions, and worse yet he convinced others that their religious traditions  were useless.
  7. Notice that the Pharisees and Sadducees did not come to Jesus seeking to learn from Him, but to “test Him.”
  8. Interestingly, The Sadducees really expected if Jesus could produce a sign that there would be some reasonable explanation – because they didn’t believe in supernatural events; while the Pharisees expected to prove Jesus in the wrong because only God could could produce a sign from heaven and Jesus was only a man.
  9. The Apostle Paul warns us about Satan’s “power, signs and false wonders” in 1 Thessalonians 2. Even today we should be aware that a supernatural occurrence can be manifest by from entities surrendered to God or those surrender to Satan.  That is why we are to “test every activity of the spirit” being certain that they are in keeping with the purposes of God, in word, action and effect. We should a. Beware: Be clear-minded and watchful (1 Pet 5:8). b. Test what is taught (1 John 4:1). c. Hold fast the pattern of sound teaching (2 Tim 1:13).
  10. They were blind to the message and signs of both Jesus and John the Baptist. The Messiah for whom they said they waited was present, but they resisted the signs because they would forfeit their power and positions along with the benefits they valued more.
  11. Jesus and the disciples had crossed from Decopolis (where Jesus had fed 4000+ just two days before) to the region of Magadan on the western shore and they are now crossing the lake again to the northern shore near Bethsaida (where Jesus had fed the 5,000+). The disciples minds narrowed in to satisfy their stomachs rather than feasting on the Bread of Life – temporal versus eternal focus – so similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees.
  12. We can not simply lay blame at the pharisees and Sadducees without examining our relationshipsip and obedience to Jesus. See: Great Litany: From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity, Good Lord, deliver us. From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, Good Lord, deliver us. From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment, Good Lord, deliver us.
  13. The yeast (or leaven) Jesus is speaking about is simply an illustrative way to describe how much a person of influence can transform a person. We are called to be a light, a candle which illuminates peoples way as they come to Jesus.