“And He kept repeating, Do you not yet understand?” -- Mark 8:21 (Amp.)
The above question by JESUS to His disciples piqued me. He reiterated it after having:
1. performed a miracle of multiplying seven loaves of bread (and a few small fish) to feed four thousand people adequately, with seven large baskets of leftover fragments; and
2. recounted to them an earlier miracle where He multiplied five loaves of bread (and two fish) to fill up five thousand men, with twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.
As we can see, JESUS brought about a greater miracle of multiplication and abundance out of the lesser substance that the disciples had to offer unto Him. Nothing is too small or insignificant to God. God does not require us to have big faith (lest we brag of it); he can see our faith, tiny as it may. He said that we need only have faith the size of a mustard seed (the smallest of all seeds), and we will be able to speak to a mountain and cast it into the sea.(However, we need to be BOLD when we make our petitions known to God, but this makes for a separate article.)
JESUS warns us against a kind of multiplication which is unhealthy and detrimental. To illustrate, He spoke of making bread, in which, a little leaven (yeast) leavens the entire dough. JESUS is the BREAD OF LIFE. If there is anyone who knows best about bread, it has got to be Jesus Himself! Am reminded that He fulfilled the prophecy of being born in the House of Bread (Bethlehem) “...to be ruler in Israel; whose goings have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).”
In Mark 8:15, JESUS warned His disciples to beware the leaven of Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. The Pharisees, religious teachers that they were, carried with them an air of superiority in terms of rituals and forms of religiosity while denying the power thereof, seeking to win primarily the adulation of men. Jesus had called them (and the scribes) “hypocrites!”, and “whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27); looking good in appearance, but rotten on the inside. In Mark 8:12, they had the audacity to dispute with Jesus and asked for a sign from heaven, testing Him. Not knowing better, they were trying to play one-upmanship with the Son of God. Jesus, who knows the heart of all men, sighed deeply in His spirit and rebuffed them.
As for Herod the king, he was troubled upon hearing the birth of JESUS, whom the wise men from the East had said would be a “Ruler” who will shepherd the people of Israel. Feeling threatened, Herod decreed the massacre of boys below two years old in Bethlehem and in all its districts. In Mark 1412:13, the Pharisees and the Herodians joined forces to catch JESUS in His words. According to the NIV Study Bible notes on Herodians, they were: “Influential Jews who favoured the Herodian dynasty, meaning that they were supporters of Rome, from which the Herods received their authority.”
In Matthew 16:6, Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the leaven of Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, were (as referenced from the NIV Study Bible) members of a small Jewish political and religious party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated classes. “And He said unto them in His doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall received greater damnation (Mark 12:38 ~ 40).”
The Pharisees were filled with malice as they sought to discredit Jesus while Herod was filled with wickedness to destroy baby JESUS. Paul urges us to keep the Passover (Holy Communion) “… neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the UNLEAVENED BREAD OF SINCERITY AND TRUTH (1 Cor. 4:8).”
God’s instruction for the children of Israel is to observe the Passover with unleavened bread (of affliction) “… that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life (Deut. 16:3).” Likewise, when we partake of the unleavened bread during Holy Communion, we are to remember the day that JESUS became our afflicted Passover Lamb for our redemption from the bondage of sin all the days of our life.
Pastor Kenneth Copeland writes in his booklet “How To Receive Communion” that: “Because of the fact that Jesus’ body was broken for us, that His blood was shed in our behalf, we acknowledge that He bore sin, sickness, disease, sorrow, grief, fear, torment, unforgiveness, strife and lack for us. Through His substitutionary sacrifice, we have complete redemption from the works of Satan. As new creations on Christ Jesus, we realize our freedom has been bought and paid for. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. And we give thanks for it all, in Jesus’ Name.”
The more we know of the Bread of Life, the less puffed up we will become. I think John the Baptist understood the greatness of JESUS. John said, “HE must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” Also, Peter said, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: … But the God of all grace, who hath called us into His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet. 5:6 – 10).”
We must truly learn to die to “self” more and more, day by day. Then, we will not crowd out the life of Christ in us. We must make room for JESUS in our life; every room matters – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let us purge ourselves of all impurities so that we may ever steer clear from malicious, wicked and pretentious yeast, which will only hinder us from experiencing the Presence and the Power of God in our life.
Paul said, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure (2 Cor. 12:7).” The LORD assured Paul that HIS GRACE is sufficient for him: for HIS STRENGTH is made perfect in weakness.
GOD is the GOD OF MORE THAN ENOUGH. With God, we will never be in short supply. “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT. (Psalm 23:1).” Let Christ be magnified in us, and throughout the world. ALL GLORY BE TO JESUS! May there be more of HIM, but less of us. Amen.
(All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, unless otherwise indicated.)
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