Cecil Hutson Sermon Archive
October 7, 2007 PM
THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES
INTRO: To the Corinthian church the apostle Paul wrote, "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness" (1 Cor 1:22,23). Our lesson text for tonight begins with the coming of the Pharisees to question and test the Lord. We are told that they sought "a sign from heaven". I am not sure how the Lord felt about such scrutiny and will perhaps make a comment about that in a minute or two, but I know from experience that it is not a particularly pleasant thing to be always under the microscope of public scrutiny. Still, public people, as Jesus most certainly was, must deal with such from time to time. The Pharisees were always listening "to catch him in his words" (Mk 12:13).
SO, THE PHARISEES CAME SEEKING A SIGN FROM HEAVEN
The spirit of their coming was to test Him
- they had without question heard of and seen His miracles
- noteActs 26:26 - what Jesus did was "not done in a corner"
- but there are none so blind as those who will not see!
- see Mt 16:2,3 - they refused to "see" what was obvious to others!
Mark tells us "he sighed deeply"
- twice Mark tells us of Jesus' sighs
- a sigh is nonverbal communication perhaps signifying various things
- one thing is signifies, however, is disappointment. frustration
- how disappointing it must have been for Him when knowledgeable people, intelligent people refused the obvious
Could Jesus have given them some "sign"?
- exactly what sort of sign they wanted I'm not sure
- but Jesus did not perform miracles, etc. to satisfy curiosity
- further, they came with entirely the wrong attitude - not of belief, but of skepticism and unbelief
- there are times that no matter what one says or does it cannot satisfy the skeptics ... frustrating times? yes ... but there's little one can do except go forward
In Matthew's account there are some important observations
- first, Jesus identifies they as "wicked and adulterous" - spiritually astray
- in OT "adultery" was used of Israel's unfaithfulness to God!
- second, Jesus tells them they will only have the "sign of ... Jonas"
- they would not get the sign the seemed to expect ... but the resurrection of Jesus would be the one great "sign" confirming His identity (Rom 1:4)
- The spirit of their coming was to test Him
JESUS TO HIS DISCIPLES, "BEWARE..."
He refers to the "leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod"
- immediately His disciples believe He is referring to bread (8:16)
- 8:14 is Mark's "stage setting" explanation
- how the disciples leapt from leaven to bread I'm not sure - but they did
Jesus responded to their reasoning among themselves...
- first, He challenges their inability to understand what He is trying to teach
- notices vv. 17,18 - they are perceiving things on a purely human, earthly level - they've heard Him teach; they've seen His miracles
- He refers to the "leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod"
- but it was so hard for them to "escape" their humanity in order to see great spiritual truths!
Notice how Jesus responds to their "no bread" concerns
- He reminded them of His having provided food for multitudes of people
- interestingly, He puts it in terms of "how much was left over?"
- had they forgotten that He could provide bread aplenty - and that their only concern in this episode was that they had forgotten to bring bread?
So, in Matthew's account of this event is further explanation from Jesus
- Mt 16:11,12 - in view of His previous miracles having "no bread" should not have concerned them!
- the light came on! ah, the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees
- and as different as the teachings of the two groups were, the teachings of both led ultimately to unbelief and spiritual blindness!
By referring to "leaven" Jesus does at least two things
- leaven was symbol for corruption - their teachings would corrupt
- leaven was gradually, quietly, inevitably - their teachings might be only marginally accepted, believed ... but they would lead to unbelief
- and this is true even today ... toleration of a little error may not seem like such a bad thing (in the interest of peace?) - but it will grow to become full blown apostasy
CLOSE: When the world is too much with us, we are very liable to fail to see the great truths Jesus came to teach. When the world is too much with us, we are very liable to be accepting of little things which quickly grow into big things.
Cecil A. Hutson
07 October 2007
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)