Page 144: Matthew 16:8-11

Why are you discussing among yourselves about not having any bread? What little faith you have! Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand men? How many baskets did you fill? And what about the seven loaves for the four thousand men? How many baskets did you fill? How is it that you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? Guard yourselves from the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!”

In the previous scripture (Day 143) Jesus told his disciples to “Take care; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Unfortunately at the time Jesus said this, the disciples were fretting about how they forgot to bring any bread with them. They were thinking about food. So when they hear these words from Jesus, the Bible says, “They started discussing among themselves, “He says this because we didn’t bring any bread.” The poor disciples. They are totally clueless about what Jesus is trying to tell them.

While Jesus is worrying about the state of Jewish society and religious practice, the disciples are worrying about where their next meal will come from. It sounds like the disciples thought Jesus was telling them that the Pharisees and Sadducees were passing out bad bread. Like a product recall or something like that. Clueless.

Jesus is clueless too. He just can’t understand why his disciples are worried about food. He made it clear, right from the beginning in his Sermon on the Mount that worrying about basic needs is an utter waste of time (See Days 49-53). Then, to top it off, the disciples saw on two separate occasions how thousands could be fed with a few fish and loaves of bread (See Days 133 and 141). He would never be worried about food. He finds their preoccupation with food mind-boggling. He cannot understand it, and his frustration is evident. He’s trying to talk to them about important stuff and they think he’s talking about food.

If you are a woman you kind of understand it. Look at some of the more accomplished first ladies in recent years. Remember Barbara Bush? She was a very wise woman and she knew her own mind. She was pro-choice ever though her husband and her party were pro-life. But what was she known for? Her pearls. How about Hillary Clinton? When she was first lady she worked on health care and a lot of other important issues. But what really made the news? Her continually evolving hairstyles. And our current first lady Michelle Obama? She used to be her husband’s boss. But what’s important to her admiring public? Her habitually exposed arms. Geez.

But that’s the way it goes. I’m sure that all teachers have those moments when they feel like they are just spinning their wheels because no one is really listening. I’m sure they feel disappointed and isolated because no one seems to care about the things that are important to them, the things they are trying to teach.
However, there is a happy ending to this story. The Bible goes on to say, “Then the disciples understood that he was not warning them to guard themselves from the yeast used in bread but from the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They finally figure it out.

So if you don’t understand everything Jesus has to say, I figure it’s OK. Neither did the disciples, and he didn’t disown them. And if you think you are misunderstood, that’s OK too. Jesus was misunderstood by those who were closest to him. He is still misunderstood as far as I can tell. He’s not easy to understand. So, like the disciples, we’ll just have to bumble along and do the best we can to figure out which end is up, trusting that if anything really important comes up, the Holy Spirit will get our attention and explain things to us in a way that we can understand.

What does this scripture say to you?


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