From: Su Min
Subject: (6 Jan) Corruption
Monday 6th January 1997
Epistle to The CyberChurch
GREETINGSTo my holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ at Colossi, Cyberspace, Antioch, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, UK, New Zealand, USA: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
TEXTToday we look at The Word of God as brought to us in the gospel according to Matthew_16:5-12.
CONTEXTJesus had just completed feeding 4000 with seven loaves and a few fish. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came testing him, demanding a sign from heaven: Jesus promised them no sign, but the sign of Jonah: Jesus then left them, and went away.
NO RESTWhen they went across the lake.......... (Matthew_16:5a)
Jesus and his disciples did not stay still, stationary at any one fixed point. Not for them the luxury of rest. Not for them the sloth of laziness. Instead, they walked up and down the breath of Galilee, criss-crossed the Sea of Galilee many times by boat, to get from point to point, to serve and minister to different people at different places.
Mini-lesson 1)So too, should we. be tireless in our efforts to spread the good news, to spread the love of God in practical ways, and minister to the church and to the world at large. We should not just stay still, but we should open our eyes to the opportunities to minister to the people about us. A precious few of us will be called upon to interstellar travel and time warp penetration: A few of us will be called for cyberspace ministry and global concerns. Most will be called to serve within the nation: criss crossing by bus, MRT, cab, car, foot. If there is one thing that Cousin SS taught me it is this: time is so short: there is so much to do: not for us the luxury of rest. Not for us the sloth of laziness. Instead we should be up and about do the will of our Father, working for the sake of The Kingdom. The harvest is plentiful, the workers few.
Our Master calls for the faithful to go out and feed His sheep: will you hear?
NO BREADWhen they went across the lake the disciples forgot to take bread. (Matthew_16:5)
A slip of the mind causes the disciples to run into a minor logistic problem as they forget to bring food supplies.
YEAST"Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
The absence of bread supply must have been obvious, after it had been discovered. There might have been whispered discussion about it. Perhaps there was an open declaration "We forgot the bread". Either way, open or closed, the matter must have been heavy in the minds of the disciples, particularly the one who was responsible for providing the bread.(So too, should our sins of omission weigh heavily on our hearts).
TEACHING POINTEither way, Jesus must have known the burdens of their hearts. Jesus knew they were focused on the absent bread. Jesus, ever the Good Teacher, seizes this opportunity to talk about bread: Jesus makes a reference to the components of metaphorical bread, not physical bread: and talks about and the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, spiritual yeast, not physical yeast.
"Be careful" He said to them. "Being on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew_16:6)
A simple mistake is made: and time and again, God takes our mistakes and uses them, for His glory, and the furtherance of the Kingdom. Yes it would be better without the mistake. Our mistakes fall short of God's perfect plan: Yet Almighty God can show us the silver lining of our clouds. He can take our shortcomings and make something beautiful out of our lives. What a Mighty God we serve!
WRONG FOCUS: WRONG WAVELENGTHThey discussed this amongst themselves and said, “It is because we didn't bring any bread."
The disciples had missed the cue. They were focused on the wrong plane. They were tuned to the wrong station. Their master was trying to guide them heavenwards and teach them some spiritual truths, but their mindset was so earth bound, and they heard things only on a literal plane.
Mini-lesson 2)And so oft, we ourselves are wrongly focused. We are inward focused, self-focused, earth bound in our interpretation of things. Jesus teaches us to be outward looking, other-centred, heaven bound in interpretation, eternal not temporal in perspective. Tune your reception to the right station, beloved.
JESUS KNOWS ALLAware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread. (Matthew_16:8)
Jesus knew what they were talking about, even though they were talking amongst themselves, Jesus was aware of their discussion: their thought and words were known to Him.
Mini-lesson 3)So too for us, our every word, our every thought is known to our Lord and Master. So much more reason, not only to watch our tongue, but to purify our minds by filling it with meditations and the study of the word.
The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man "unclean" (Matthew_15:18)
REMINDERDo you not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? (Matthew_16:9) Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? (Matthew_16:10)
Jesus draws the attention of His disciples to the recent miracles he has wrought,
CORRECTIONHow is it then you do not understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew_16:11)
Having re-adjusted their focus on things spiritual, having corrected their vision on things heavenly, Jesus repeats his warning about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
UNDERSTANDINGThen they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew_16:12)
Finally the disciples are on track. They were lost but now am found. They had lost direction and bearing in the fog of worldliness, but now were guided by the Beacon of Truth.
YEASTThe disciples must have been familiar with bread making. For many it was a daily activity. They must have seen the women-folk at it every day: They themselves may have helped in the kitchen with the making of bread, particularly as children. They mixed the flour with water to make a dough, and added yeast as a rising agent. As makers of bread they knew what pervasive effect a tiny bit of yeast had. One tiny pinch of yeast could influence a whole sackfull of flour. Good when you are trying to make light fluffy bread. Bad when you are trying to make unleavened bread.
The point of the illustration was obvious to the disciples who themselves had made bread. A tiny bit of yeast can influence the whole batch. The yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees was a corrupting influence that could pollute the whole environment.
CORRUPTIONWhy was the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees considered corrupting? Were they not the teachers of the law? The problem was that their focus was wrong. They focused on the execution of the law, on keeping to the letter of the law, on keeping to the expansions of their interpretation of the law, but they missed the spirit of the law. Theirs was the worship of worship, the glorification of the religious elite. Theirs was adultery of religion. Theirs was commercial gain woven into religious practice. Religion said by the mouth but not practised by the body.
THE LESSONDoes this make any sense to us today? In the age of electronics, computers, Internet, need we be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees?
The corrupting influence of the world is bad enough: sex, money, sex, politics, sex, pornography, sex, advertising, sex, sex, sex and more sex. Enough said.
But even amongst the church there is corruption that we must guard against.
Are there those amongst us who preach and practice a hypocritic "holier than thou" religion? Sadly, the answer is "Yes". The warning still stands.
Are there still those who carve the church into personality camps? "I follow Paul", another, "I follow Cephas", still another, "I follow Christ" (1 Colossians_1:12). Sadly, the answer is "Yes".
Are there those who preach an adulterated Christianity? Sadly, the answer is "Yes".
"The bible is a collection of good stories, not all true, but good" is one such variant. They do not accept that the Bible is God's Word to us. Be warned of the corrupting yeast.
The gospel of health and wealth is another such variant: "Believe and you will be rich". "Believe and you will be cured." Rubbish. This is not to say that God does not pour rich blessing upon us, material wealth and good health for many: these indeed are blessings for us to enjoy. Miraculous cures do happen: that is the essence of miracles: extraordinary, out of the place, beyond human understanding, defying the laws of nature as we know it:
Yet many many times more God allows good Christian people to remain in their infirmity, paralysis, cancer, whatever: and God uses that broken body with a Spirit-filled life to be a testimony to His glory. But instant health and wealth just for the asking? That is not the bible as I see it. That is not the Lord Almighty as I understand.
Be on guard against the yeast of the hypocrites. Cleanse yourself of the perversions of religion. Beware of personality cults. Do not try to serve God and Mammon. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbour as yourself.
Thank you for your lesson today
Thank you for taking our mistakes, and using them for Your glory.
Thank you for warning us against the yeast of false religion.
Help us to remain pure, and to worship you in spirit and in truth.
In the Name of Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
Back to Antioch's Well
Back to Antioch's Home Page