Bible Passages / Lenten Meditation / Prayers

The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod

Lenten Meditation-Mark 8:17-18

17And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?

What is it with the disciples and bread? Verse 15 Jesus said, “Watch out — beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” The disciples thought he was talking about them not having any bread to eat… What?

The disciples are a bit like Parzival the namesake of this blog.  Parzival was introduced by his author as, “A brave man slowly wise: thus I hail my hero.”  The disciples were such men. They were brave men, for the most part, certainly slowly wise and eventually heroic. Like many future heroes they stumbled and bumbled along and were very much like most of us, unlikely to be heroes at all.

In that way, we Christians are all disciples of Christ. Like the originals, we stumble and bumble along not quite figuring it out. We are wrapped up in our own little self-absorbed worlds. And I’m not sure if we really want figure it all out. Why go the extra mile? Why worry? We are quite comfortable slogging through life. In fact, we are worse off than our disciple friends. At least they were searching. I think our modern materialistic rot has left us like pigs after a feast living in the mud happy and content; no thinking required. Or as described by C.S. Lewis:

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”(The Weight of Glory)

Then there are the Pharisees; we are like them too. If we are not being pigs seeking self-gratification, we are being self-righteous snobs proclaiming ourselves the smartest generation ever. We think we have it all figured out just like the Pharisees.

Both of our biblical sets of friends see signs and miracles performed right before their eyes, but being preoccupied with the world they go unnoticed. The disciples worry about bread; the Pharisees worry about power. What do we worry about?

It’s there; right before our eyes. We just have to pull ourselves up out of the mud. We have to open our eyes. We are all brave souls, slowly wise. We are unlikely heroes on the same quest as the disciples and the Pharisees. The disciples pulled themselves out of the mud and muck. Jesus gave them a helping hand. But  he also had to bang them over the head with that hand.

Each of us has a quest that God has given. All require a devotion and commitment of heroic magnitude.  And all of us are the unlikely heroes that God has chosen.

Prayer: Dear Lord, bless us all on our quests. Open our eyes to Your miracles and wondrous glory. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


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