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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Vision Thing (27): Our Failures or Christ's Glory

When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread. "Watch out," Jesus said to them. "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." So they began to discuss among themselves saying, "It is because we brought no bread" [Matt. 16:5-7].
True vision from God starts with having a true vision of God. One of the many obstacles to attaining a vision of God is one's own failures. I don't mean that your failures disqualify you from seeing God. If so, no one would see God—at least, no one would see him and live to tell about it. I mean that your failures can grab your attention so fully that you are blind to the glory of God right in front of you.

This is Jesus' disciples' situation in Matthew 16. Jesus warns them against "the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees," and all these poor guys can think is that Jesus is chastising them for not having remembered to bring the bread. Jesus could certainly be cryptic, but comparing their supply of bread to "the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" is a stretch even for him!

Besides that, as Jesus reminds them, they had recently experienced him multiply five loaves of bread to feed 5,000 men and later multiply seven loaves to feed 4,000. Why would Jesus care about whether they had remembered to bring bread? Hadn't Jesus already proven that they would never starve as long as he was around? Almost exasperated, Jesus sighs, "How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread?" (v. 11).

And yet, this is exactly what Jesus' disciples thought he was speaking about. Their eyes were so quick to look at how they had messed up that they couldn't see what Jesus was saying to them. And they couldn't see what Jesus was saying to them because they couldn't see Jesus himself—the true bread from heaven that a person could eat and not die, who proved his inexhaustible power to give life by astoundingly multiplying bread twice.

Fortunately, Jesus' admonition broke their gaze from their mistake of forgetting bread and redirected it to his glory. "Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (v. 12).

May Jesus' word interrupt our focus on our failures and replace it with a focus on his all-sufficient excellency! Then we too will see the world around us rightly, be warned of dangers, and recognize the mission he has for us.

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