During this time, the scenario was that Jesus was facing three type of people:
a) The Romans
b) Herodians who were placed there by Caesar
c) Jewish shariah courts – they were the Pharisees and Sadducees
The Scribes who were mostly Pharisees were religious professionals.
Usually the Pharisees and Sadducees were opponents who were at odds with each other, however, they had an alliance to confront Jesus. In fact, the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Priests, the Scribes, the Herodians formed alliance to get rid of Jesus. They had no power from God, but they had religious power and using this power to attack Jesus and to bring benefits to themselves.
Jesus was walking in many minefields. How can He avoid these minefields?
In Matthew chapter 6:1 the Jews demanded a sign from heaven. In Vs 2, 3, 4 Jesus said there was only the sign of Jonah. If the Jews knew what he was talking about they would have known the answers. Jesus used this parable to a) concealed the truth to those who did not want to understand b) revealed the truth to those who understood. The disciples were concerned with not bringing the bread in Vs. 5. But Jesus rebuked them saying didn’t they witnessed the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000 with a few loaves and a few fishes? They were concerned with the physical whereas Jesus was concerned with the spiritual. Vs. 11 Jesus warned about the yeasts of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus was actually talking about the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Vs.14 to Vs.16. Jesus asked the disciples who they though He was. Simon said He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied that God gave him the knowledge. Vs.21 Jesus said preaching and teaching to the people was more important than miraculous signs. For many had seen signs and wonders and yet did not believe in God.
The Parable of Jonah – representing Jesus dying for 3 days and 3 nights before being resurrected. Peter that this could not happened, but Jesus rebuked him saying, “Satan get behind me”. Vs. 24 the Cross is central to the Gospel. The work of the Cross is important. It is suffering which is the mark of the Cross. We are to take up our Crosses daily. We are to suffer when we follow Jesus.
We are saved by faith but we are rewarded by our works.
Christianity and Politics
Politics and religion had an unholy alliance in this scenario. The Jews asked Jesus to show signs from heaven because they wanted to trap Him. The two groups of religious people, that is the Pharisees and Sadducees had conflicted beliefs. The Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection whereas the Pharisees were religious fundamentalists who kept strict rules and laws. In a way, the Sadducees were not so strict in their beliefs. However, laws and rules were not as important as the message from God. To the Pharisees following strict rules and laws were more important to them. The actions were more important than the spirit of the actions. They were majoring on the minor so to speak. The Pharisees and Sadducees avoided each other. The Sadducees were political elites. The Pharisees were religious elites.
Significance of signs and wonders
There are two types a) signs of physical wonders e.g the weather where sky may turned red etc b) spiritual significant.
Jesus was interested in the spiritual signs, those were signs of building our faith in God. Jesus used the sign of Jonah as He was preaching to those who wanted to hear and understand. Those who did not want to hear they have to move on. The sign of Jonah was the sign of the Cross. The Cross is planted into the heart of evangelism, the Gospel and Salvation. The first person to gain from the Cross was the thief who begged Jesus to save him.
Pre-occupation of the disciples
The disciples were interested in the physical state saying “we brought no bread”. Jesus addressed this issue in parabolic manner. In other example, like the woman at the well. She was talking about physical thirst but Jesus addressed her spiritual thirst and that He could give her spring of water so she will never thirst again.
Power of recall
The disciples were easy to forget that Jesus had fed the 5,000 and 4,000 with few loaves and fishes. Why talked about not bringing bread? We usually do not connect physical things with spiritual things.
Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Leaven in the yeasts initials a chemical reaction in the bread that makes it to expand. Leaven signified evil.
a) Leaven of the Pharisees – dead religion. It kills through spirituality. Jesus said they were going through the motion rather than worshipping God.
b) Leaven of the Sadducees – liberal theology. E,g did not believe in the Resurrection. Watered down theology, cut away parts of the Scripture that did not conformed to what they wanted. We need parallel truth – faith and work. They are on both strips of a railway track. Grace balance by obedience to God. Son-ship balanced by servant hood. Christ centred Christianity. Revealetion is the heart of faith as revealed by the Holy Spirit.
Good intentions doe not serve God. E.g Peter’s good intention when he said Jesus should not die. But Jesus’ intentions were always God’s intentions. E.g at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried “Your will be done”.
To follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves. We are to follow Him with passion. We should not gamble our salvation. Work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
We are saved by faith, but we will be rewarded by how we live, serve and follow Jesus.