Signs and Wanderers
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8:1 In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 2 "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 "And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar." 4 Then His disciples answered Him, "How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?" 5 He asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven." 6 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. 7 They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. 8 So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. 9 Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, 10 immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. 12 But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation." 13 And He left them, and getting into the boat again, departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then He charged them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have no bread." 17 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, (Mt 16:8 Oh you of little faith) "Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 "Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 "When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?" They said to Him, "Twelve." 20 "Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?" And they said, "Seven." 21 So He said to them, "How is it you do not understand?"
I. Truth is what best explains all the facts, found at the convergence of: Revelation (authenticated), Reason & Reality (what works)
A. God provides sufficient Revelation and authentication for us to Respond via Reason (consistency)
We want more proof of God’s goodness (provision, power, plan, admonition) than He has already seen fit to give us
B. God expects us to Reason from the Facts to Respond to the Truth (worship) as we demonstrate dependent daily Faith
We focus on the gift rather than the Giver, failing to understand the purpose behind God’s gracious provision (to draw us into a deeper
dependence and relationship with Him, so we develop a deeper capacity to draw on His grace, and thus serve others and glorify Him).
C. Failure to respond to the light (with faithful dependence) results in wandering deeper into the dark
II. Miracles interrupt the natural order to authenticate and facilitate faith in the Word of God (from Mk 5)
A. Purpose of miracles: Authenticate the Message so we can respond (worship): God’s ultimate concern for His glory, not just our comfort
B. A reasonable person would expect that an infinite being, communicating infinite truth to finite beings, would do so super-naturally.
C. An unreasonable person demands that God do their bidding (No sign is a sign you have enough 2Sam 5:9&23 beware of circumstances)
Mt 12:39 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah
III. Faith is hard for hard hearts
Lu 12:1…"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Cf Mt 16:12
1Co 5:7 purge out the old leaven…8…nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
A. Leaven of the Pharisees = hypocrisy (an expression of agreement that is not supported by real conviction) (not practice what preach)
Mt 15:7 "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy…8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. Jer 42:20 you were hypocrites in your hearts…all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.’
B. Leaven of Herod = a willingness to hear truth but insensitive failure to apply it, especially when it impinges on our power, comfort or pleasure
IV. Hard Hearts can be cured by our choice to Submit to the Great Physician and His therapy
A. Hardening = calloused insensitivity to God’s purposes and promptings (leprosy of the soul) that sets us up for damage & destruction Ex 8:15; 9:12
B. Softening our Hearts =(not sinning) (a hardened criminal no longer fears; a hardened saint just doesn’t see it, nor fears God)
1. Hardening/callousness occurs when fail to stay under God’s protection, ignore little promptings, and deaden our nerves.
2. Hardening manifests itself in not seeking God for our needs nor the needs of others (closed to the voice of God, unwilling to be used by Him)
3. Concern for others keeps our heart sensitive to God, asking Him for wisdom and dependently offering ourselves to meet the needs of others.
C. The Consequence of Hardening 6. The Christian who falls into a pattern of unbelief will eventually depart from the Living God. This doesn’t mean loss of justification nor necessarily falling into a life of gross sin, but rather abandoning an abiding relationship with God who alone satisfies our every need, to instead live by our own wits in dependence upon our own finite abilities, and a soft fuzzy plush creature we call god.
D. Exhortation by the Body is God’s provision for a tender heart, to prevent us from being deceived (by Satan’s triple-hooked lure of power (security & significance), pleasure, and possessions) into departing from an abiding dependent relationship with the true living God, to a liaison of convenience with a pretend god of our own making, thus missing out on God’s plan and prize.
Heb 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 ... "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
A. Confident trust begins with a conviction that God is who He said He is and will do what He said He will do. (Heb 11:6)
B. Confident trust is built through repeated and progressive risky steps of dependent responsive faith (Phil 3:12-14) (balance beam)
C. Confident trust is maintained through an accountable clear conscience, and resulting moral excellence (=not sinning) (Rom 8:13)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. What did Jesus want the disciples to “get” or understand? How were they in danger of hypocrisy that He had to warn them about it?
2. How does hypocrisy creep into and permeate a life? What’s the solution to hypocrisy? Is an honest rebel better than a covert hypocrite?
3. What are some of the things that people have difficulty “getting” in the Christian life? Why? How can they be helped?
4. What “sign/miracle” would you like from God, and how would your life be different if He complied? How would you respond to Him?
5. How are you at responding to God’s Truth with the mental activities described in Mk 8:17-18? How can you improve this week?