9 questions

Like any preacher, when I use an illustration I want to do two things. First, I want to teach some truth of the gospel with it. Second, I want to use an illustration that you will come across later.

If, for example, I tell you to connect praying with a traffic light, I want you to notice a few things. In prayer, we have the green light to approach the throne of grace. But there are also times when it’s best to stop to listen for God’s voice. Finally, the best way to learn to pray is to slow down and pay more attention to God’s presence. And the light guides all of us, not just you. 

Now, I just made that up as I was typing. So, I don’t know how far that illustration can go. But, if I did a good job telling the illustration, the next time you see a traffic light, you’ll think about praying.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Preachers like to joke about the greeting line after worship. From time to time, people tell their preacher how much they appreciated some point made in the sermon. The trouble is, that wasn’t any point the preacher was trying to make. I’ve had that happen to me several times. I’ve learned to let it go. Who knows what they might hear next?

The same thing kind of happened to Jesus.

In Mark 8, our Lord gave an on-the-spot faith lesson. The disciples only had a loaf of bread for them all to share. Not much for a large group of hungry guys. Then Jesus told them to beware of the “yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”

Imagine the disciples looking at one another. The Pharisees are important people. Herod is a ruler. Jesus wants us to beware of them? And all that because we didn’t bring enough bread? Of course, Jesus wasn’t worried about how much bread they had. In fact, their preoccupation with the bread showed they hadn’t been paying attention to what Jesus had been teaching and what they had experienced.

Next, Jesus played 9 Questions.

How could they miss so much? After all they had seen and participated in, how could they not understand? The proof of their misunderstanding Jesus was their worry about the bread. Remember that Jesus fed thousands of people with a few loaves. How could he not provide for their small journey now?

What Christ wanted them to know is something you and I must acknowledge as well. Our faith is in God’s provision, not the world’s promises. The yeast of the Pharisees and Herod did not produce faithful obedience or holiness. Their priorities were power and self-involvement. So, Jesus told the disciples to beware.

You and I, the church, need to be just as careful as the first disciples were to be about those priorities. What have we experienced as the body of Christ? How has God spoken to us? Let’s not forget that because we’re focusing on something else.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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