Todays readings.. Exodus 22, Psalm 75&76, Mark 8
The disciples of Jesus were in training – but they did not realize this! Do we?
Jesus spoke in parables and his disciples, most of all, were expected to grow in their ability to sense their meaning and lesson. In today’s chapter in Mark (Ch.. 8) they go in a boat to the other side of Galilee but “they had forgotten to take bread … and Jesus cautioned them saying, ‘Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees’ …” [v.14,15]
They do not understand his meaning and “began discussing with one another the fact they had no bread.” [v.16]. Jesus reproves them for their lack of perception in spite of previous experiences.
“Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? “ [v.17,18]
He then reminds them of the feeding of the five thousand followed by the 4 thousand to make the point that the lack of literal bread was not the problem – it was “the leaven” of the teaching and attitudes of the Pharisees they had to beware of and watch out for. What damage that would cause if attitudes developed in the disciples. The spirit such attitudes would produce would destroy any chance of faith being able to grow. The Pharisees were ‘lifted up’ by their position before men; their glory was in their self-importance!
The place where this “leaven” had the potential to grow was in the hearts of the disciples, it was latent there as we will see in the next chapter when Jesus challenges them “for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.” [9 v.34] Today’s chapter tells us that Jesus “called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” [v.34] There is no intention to do any cross bearing in the hearts of those who are full of self-importance!
Making our faith evident to others – in this ever more sinful world – is one way we can create for ourselves a ‘cross’ or two to bear – let us really mark Jesus’ words, “whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him (or her) will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in glory …” [v.38]
Let us remember the down to earth lessons Jesus taught and become, if we are not already, dedicated disciples who listen (read) his words and perceive what he really means and make them part of our daily thinking and resultant actions.