Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Nineteen: Leaven of the Pharisees   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
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Chapter Nineteen:

Leaven of the Pharisees



CANAANITE WOMAN'S DAUGHTER HEALED

     Jesus thought it was time to move away from the Jewish
people as a whole, for a short time, and go to the towns of Tyre
and Sidon up on the North West of the coast of Palestine.
Arriving there He entered a house in order to be alone for a
while, but a Canaanite Greek woman by race, knowing of Him, and
hearing that He was there among them, came running to Him crying
out as she fell down at His feet, "Have mercy upon me,
O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a
demon." She begged Jesus to cast out the demon from her little
girl.
     But Jesus said not one word. He just seemed to ignore what
she said, and didn't even seem to recognize that she was present.
She persisted in her request, until finally the disciples asked
Jesus to send her away because of her anguish crying.
     Finally Jesus spoke:

     "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

     The woman was unrelenting and not shaken. She came again and
knelt before Him saying, "Lord, help me!"
     Jesus replied, "The children should be fed first. It is not
right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs."
     Yes, Lord," the woman said, "but even the dogs under the
table eat of the children's crumbs."
     "O woman," Jesus said on hearing this, "GREAT is your faith!
Be it done for you as you desire. You may go your way, the demon
has left your daughter."
     Matthew says in his Gospel that the child was healed
instantly, and when the woman went home she found her child lying
in bed and the demon gone, adds Mark in his Gospel (Mat.15:
21-28; Mark 7: 24-30).

     What a fine example this woman is for us. She used
persistence and logical wisdom is asking for the Lord Jesus to
help her child. She had true faith that has works (James chapter
2). Faith without works is a dead faith the apostle James was
inspired to tell us. Jesus was impressed and it is recorded for
all mankind to ever read, that He said this woman had GREAT
faith. This is the SECOND recorded GENTILE (none Israelite)
person who is said to have outstanding faith, according to Jesus.
The first we read about earlier was the "centurion" - I hope you
remember that story that we have already covered.

JESUS HEALS A DEAF MUTE AND MANY OTHERS

     It was not long after this incident of the Greek woman's
daughter having a demon cast out, that Jesus left that area and
returned to the sea of Galilee. He went up into the hills there,
but great crowds of people soon came to Him bringing with them
the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and so many others
with sicknesses and afflictions. They put those sick folk at His
feet and He healed all of them. When they saw all the sick being
healed the people praised and glorified the God of Israel.
     One healing at this time is especially recorded for us by
Mark. Some people brought before Jesus a man who was not only
deaf, but who also had a speech impediment.  
     Jesus took the man aside from the multitudes. He wanted this
healing to be a private matter. We are not told why, but Jesus
wanted this healing to be more private than open before all the
multitude of people present. He took His fingers and placed them
in the deaf man's ears. And He spat and touched his tongue, and
looking up to heaven Jesus sighed and said, "Eph-phatha," that
is, "Be opened." And the man's ears were opened and he could
hear, and his tongue was released from the speech impediment and
he spoke plainly. 
     Jesus, as He often did, told those who knew the man before
he was healed, to tell no one, but the more He told them not to
tell, the more it seemed they did the opposite and zealously
proclaimed all that He did. The people were astonished beyond
measure, saying among themselves and to others, "This Jesus has
done all things well; He even makes the deaf to hear and the dumb
to speak" (Mat.15: 29-31; Mark 7: 31-37).

THE MIRACULOUS FEEDING OF FOUR THOUSAND PLUS

     Once more the crowd had enlarged to a very great number.
They had been with Jesus for a full THREE DAYS, and they had
nothing at all to eat in those three days. Jesus called together
His twelve disciples and said to them, " I feel compassion on the
crowd, because they have had nothing to eat over these last three
days they have been with me. If I send them away to their homes
hungry, they will surely faint on the way, and some I know have
come a long way."
     "Well Master," the disciples said, "how can it be possible
to feed all these people with food in a desert place like this?"
     "How many loaves of bread do you have?" asked Jesus.
     "We have seven loaves and a few small fish," the disciples
replied.

     Jesus took the seven loaves and the few fish, blessed them
and told His disciples to distribute them among the people. This
the disciples did and all the people ate till they were full and
satisfied. And after all had eaten the disciples took up seven
baskets of left over food.
     The number of men only was about thousand, and besides the
men there were women and also children. So the total crowd of
people could have been well around 6,000 or maybe even more. Stop
and think about this. Of course Jesus worked another great
miracle, but I'm thinking about the zeal, the dedication, the
high enthusiasm all these people, including children, must have
had to go for three days without food, in order to be around
Jesus as He taught and worked healing miracles. They were
certainly zealous, at least in a physical way.

     After all had eaten Jesus sent them away, back to their
homes. He then immediately got into boat with His disciples and
went to the district of Dalmanutha or Magadan (Mat.15: 32-39;
Mark 8: 1-10).

JESUS REVEALS WHAT THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES
AND SADDUCEES IS

     The two main groups of religious leaders (the Pharisees and
the Sadducees) were never far behind Jesus, always tagging along
even if they just observed from a distance. But sometimes they
came close to ask Jesus questions, often trying to test or trip
Him up to smash His credibility with the people. This was another
one of those times. They came wanting to argue with Him and
specifically wanted Him to give them a sign from heaven. They
just could not accept that He really was who He said He was, the
Son of God, coming from heaven, being sent by the Father.
     Jesus sighed a great sigh literally and within His mind. He
said, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather; for
the sky is red.' And you say in the morning, 'It will be stormy
weather, for the sky is red and threatening.'  You know how to
interpret the face of the heavens, but you just cannot interpret
the signs of the times all around you."
     The signs the Pharisees and Sadducees had seen coming from
Jesus were so many they were countless, and still they were not
satisfied, but wanted an extra super-dooper sign from out of the
heavens. I suspect that if Jesus had given it to them, they would
still have said to the crowds that He did it by the prince of
demons, the Devil, and would have continued in their unbelief,
still denying that He was the Son of God.
     Jesus continued: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks
for a sign, but I've told you already, no sign will be given to
you except the sign of Jonah."
     We saw in a previous chapter that that sign Jesus would give
was that He would be three days and three nights in the grave as
Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great
fish.
     Jesus had enough of all this argumentative unbelief from
those religious leaders, and with His disciples He got into a
boat and once more crossed to the other side of the sea of
Galilee.

     When they got to the other side, the disciples realized they
had not brought with them any bread except for one loaf. Jesus
used the opportunity of the conversation about physical bread to
tell and teach them about a much more serious leaven and bread
they needed to be very aware of.

     "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and
Sadducees," said Jesus.
     The disciples discussed among themselves what Jesus was
meaning, as they had brought no bread but one loaf, and the
Pharisees and Sadducees were not near them on this occasion.
     Jesus, knowing they did not understand Him, said to them, "O
men of little faith, why is it that you discuss among yourselves
that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand. Does not your
hearts perceive? Having eyes do you not see? Do you not
remember the five loaves and the five thousand and how many
baskets of food you gathered up after they ate? Do you not
remember the seven loaves and the four thousand and more person
who ate, and how many baskets of food you gathered up after
they ate? How is it that you fail to perceive that I was not
talking about physical bread? I said to you that you should
beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."

     Ah, the penny finally dropped as we say, and they understood
then that He was not talking about the leaven of physical bread,
but of the TEACHINGS and the PRACTICES  of the Pharisees and the
Sadducees (Mat.16: 1-12; Mark 8: 11-21).

     Oh yes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees had SOME things
"technically" correct. They upheld the keeping of the weekly
Sabbath, and the observing of the Feasts of the Lord, they
observed the clean and unclean food laws. They did not bow down
to idols of wood or stone as many of the pagan nations around
them did. They kept many other commandments of God, but on the
overall view of things theologically, they had many errors, many
false ideas, many incorrect practices, and many traditions that
they observed while nullifying the commands of God as we have
seen.
     Jesus, told His disciples to be very careful and very much
on guard, when it came to the theological practices and teachings
of the two main religious groups in Judea. Both groups were full
of leaven, and leaven is often used in the Bible to represent SIN
and UNRIGHTEOUSNESS and WICKEDNESS (see 1 Cor.5).

HEALING A BLIND MAN NEAR BETHSAIDA

     Jesus and His disciples moved on to the town of Bethsaida.
It was here that some people brought to Jesus a blind man and
begged Him to touch and heal this man.  So He took the blind man
by the hand and led him out of the town, and when He had spit
on his eyes and laid hands upon him, He asked the man, "Do you
see anything?" And the man looked up at Jesus and said, "Well, I
see men; but they look like trees walking."
After hearing this, Jesus once more laid hands upon his eyes. The
man looked intently and his vision was restored perfectly, and he
could see everything clearly and as it should be.
     Jesus sent him away to his home, telling him not to enter
the town, but go straight home. He knew that if the man entered
the town and the people saw that he had his vision restored, all
the people in the town would be flocking around Him, and at this
time Jesus did not want a large crowd of people following Him.

     We are not given the reason WHY Jesus did this healing of
the blind man this particular way. Some things may seem strange
to us, the spitting on the eyes, the man first seeing people
walking up-side-down, Jesus re-touching him, and then the healing
all taking place. Jesus could have just said the word and the
blind man would have had his sight restored. So it may seem a
little puzzling to us as to why Jesus did it all this way,
and we are not given any explanation.
     We can only contemplate as to the why of it all. Maybe Jesus
was giving us a lesson that some physical things need to be done
in having healing. It is not wrong to use whatever is good of the
physical world to help restore our health. And then, maybe it is
a lesson for us to remember that God heals in His time, maybe not
all at once, maybe in part we are helped and healed, and we need
to keep on looking to Him for complete healing. Maybe we have to
remember that complete healing is in God's time frame, when He
decides that He will fully and completely heal us.
     Those are some of the things we may learn from this recorded
healing. There may be more things to learn, as we meditate upon
it. 

             ..................................

Written October 2002


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