They Understood More

Today’s Reading: Matthew 16:5-28; Mark 8:14-9:1; Luke 9:18-27

SPEAKING FIGURATIVELY

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. – Matthew 16:5-12

Have you ever met someone who takes everything you say literally? The use of sarcasm goes right past them and they look at you with a puzzled expression, trying to figure out why you said what you said. Then there is that person that uses the term “literally” while exaggerating, making their statement impossible. For example, “I have literally told you this a million times!” Oh, if they only literally understood the definition of the word “literally”.

The disciples were struggling with distinguishing when Jesus was speaking to them in literal terms and when he was speaking figuratively. He often spoke to them in parables but they still have not figured out how to relate the words of Jesus to real life situations. They are missing the meaning of what Jesus is trying to teach them because they are thinking in human terms instead of spiritual concepts.

SPEAKING LITERALLY

Jesus understands their confusion and patiently goes back to square one with them:

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being…”
– Matthew 16:13b-17

You can almost hear Jesus patiently saying – Okay, I was just checking to make sure you remember who I really am because it seems to me like you still do not get it. How often do we need reminded of who God is when we are going through a time of uncertainty? Our Heavenly Father is revealing Himself to us if we will simply look beyond our earthly understanding to see things from God’s perspective.

When they arrived in Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

The man looked around, “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”

Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. – Mark 8:22-25

SPEAKING PLAINLY

Jesus knew that the disciples’ understanding was blurry, just like the man’s vision. He had taken them from complete darkness to a fuzzy understanding. Now it was time to speak plainly. Now it was time for Jesus to reveal to them what was ahead.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples PLAINLY that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:21-23

My prayer for all of us is that God would reveal much to us today. I pray that God will help us to see beyond our limited, human point of view to His heavenly perspective. I pray for moments today when we are reminded of whom we serve and how powerful He is. No situation or circumstance is too big for Him.

Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see beyond our human point of view and increase our understanding of how things look from YOUR perspective. We love you and we trust you today – literally! Amen.

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