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Testy Critics and Dull Disciples, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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July 19, 2021 7:05 am

Testy Critics and Dull Disciples, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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July 19, 2021 7:05 am

The King's Ministry: A Study of Matthew 14–20

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In our study through the book of Matthew, we've seen a villainous crowd appear and reappear. The Pharisees, along with others of their ilk, were openly critical of Jesus and on the prowl, looking to sabotage His growing reputation. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll will show us yet another encounter with these religious zealots, and he'll expose how their cynical repartee is expressed in today's religious discourse as well. Do you ever grow discouraged by friends and family who poke fun at your Christian beliefs? Chuck titled today's message, testy critics and dull disciples.

There are people who live for the purpose of putting you under the law and holding you under water until you can't survive. They lived in the first century. They were known as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, and not surprising, they hated Jesus, who was the personification of grace and truth. We encounter them as they come to argue with Him, in the 16th chapter of Matthew, and it's interesting to see them before us as Jesus dealt with them. He wasn't tolerant of them.

He gave them no slack, and because He knew them better than they even knew themselves, He simply cut to the heart of the issue when He addressed them. We're going to look at the first 12 verses of Matthew 16. I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Follow along for the reading of the scriptures. One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that He show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove His authority.

He replied, you know the saying, red sky at night means fair weather in the morning, red sky in the morning means foul weather all day. You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don't know how to interpret the signs of the times. Only an evil adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the Prophet Jonah. Then Jesus left them and went away. 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 had not 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 the loaves and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves and the large 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. You're listening to Insight for Living to study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll.

Be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck that he titled Testy Critics and Dull Disciples. The favorite indoor sport of many Christians is arguing. I mean a day isn't complete without a verbal fight.

And sometimes it's the silliest thing to argue over. And have you noticed it doesn't stay limited to individuals, but it grows into churches. Churches can often become fighting churches.

Not only fighting among themselves, but fighting with other churches. One wag writes about the town where there were three churches located on the same intersection. As you drove by you could hear one of the congregation singing, will there be any stars, any stars in my crown, and across the street singing any louder the old hymn, no not one, no not one. But the third one sang even louder, oh that will be glory for me. Heard about some theologians who were arguing together over predestination as opposed to the free will of humanity.

That unanswerable argument that goes on and on. And there was a young man who didn't really know which group he should join. So he surreptitiously sort of slipped into the predestination crowd and they said, how did you get in here? He said, I came of my own free will. And they said, you can't come here unless you're sent. And so he left and he wandered over to the other group and he slipped in and and they said, how'd you get in here? And he said, I was sent.

You can't come unless you come of your own free will, they answered. And a hundred other silly stories like that. Like the two sisters who couldn't live together and they drew a line in their small house right down the middle. Right down the middle, one sister lived on one side and the other sister lived on the other side. They even went to the kitchen at different times without saying a word.

For years they lived in stoic silence. To which I answer, give me a break. Are you an arguing kind of person?

You like to verbally fight with others looking for reasons to disagree, nitpicking over things that two days later you can't even remember what it was about? Well if you're among those you would fit well into the group of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Pharisees, Sadducees, well we don't have them today. Well maybe we do. I have a friend who calls himself a recovering Pharisee. So maybe there is a semblance of that on occasion. But these groups seriously are not present today.

They're gone, thankfully. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were different. However they had one thing in common and that is they both despised Jesus.

They lived for the day he'd be out of their lives and a conspiracy would soon be underway planning for his death. That's how serious and how carnal they were, though they wore the robes of religious garb. The Pharisees understand, lived their lives according to the minutiae of the oral and scribal laws.

Completely dedicated to that. They believed in angels and they also believed in the supernatural resurrection beyond death. Not being a political party, they were comfortable living under any governmental rule, just so long as the government let them alone and allowed them to observe their own religious convictions. That was the Pharisees. The Sadducees were different. They rejected the oral and scribal law and they accepted only the written words of Scripture, of course only the Old Testament, which was in existence at that time. They did not believe in the supernatural. They believed either in angels nor in the resurrection after death, which is why they were sad, you see. But I just couldn't pass that up. It's a perfect moment to add that.

Silly, but has nothing to do with what I'm trying to say. However, being a small and wealthy aristocracy, they tolerated the Romans just so long as the Romans allowed them to retain their wealth and their privileged, wealthy lifestyle. But when it came to Jesus, they would team up, as we see in verse 1 of chapter 16. One day, well it appeared that way when you lived in that day, but you can believe they had laid plans for this days before. But one day the plan came to you. And so the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to test Jesus.

Understand now, I'll stop right there. They were the kind of people who loved to argue. They were never satisfied with answers. They were always looking for another argument, especially when dealing with Jesus. And so they won't believe.

They will not believe regardless. And Jesus knows that. He knows them better than they know themselves. They hated that about him too. But when they would come in his presence, they would come to put him to the test. They want to test his power, but don't misunderstand. They knew he had demonstrated power.

Everybody who lived in that day witnessed it. He could still the storm. He could walk on the sea. He could give sight to the blind. He could give the paralytic new health, the ability to walk and move about. He could feed 5,000.

In fact, if you count everybody, 25,000 at one time with a small amount of just five loaves and two little small fish, or later 4,000. I mean, no one can deny the fact that he had power, but these men were there to point out the source of his power. You see, if you have supernatural power, it comes either from God or Satan. And you know which side they were on. So they come to put him to the test.

See how it reads? They come to test him, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. See, they want to address the issue of the realm of authority in which he operated. Put some ear-splitting, eye-boggling, incredible, blazing light across the skies that we might all see it. Jesus is no sideshow act.

And even if he had done that, they would find a reason not to believe or to claim that it came from the other source of power, not God. He knew them. So I love his reply. When you know someone better than they know themselves, you're able to speak to them like this. It isn't ugly. It's just factual.

Look at what he says. You know the saying, red sky at night means fair weather in the morning, and red sky in the morning means foul weather all day. Maybe there was a kind of a rhyme known to them at that time. A red sky at night is the shepherd's delight. A red sky in the morning is the shepherd's warning.

You're good at knowing what the weather's gonna be. You just know nothing of the signs of the times. You refuse to see God's hand at work in my life. You refuse to see the source of my power as being from the living God. You are among the evil, adulterous generation that would demand a miraculous sign.

There'll be no more. And he stays with the one sign familiar to all of them, since they did know their Old Testament, the sign of Jonah. Most of you know the story of Jonah, so there's no reason they're repeated. We're all caught up in the fact that he was in the belly of the great fish, that extended period of time, and then finally was vomited up on the shores leading to Nineveh, where he would lead the greatest revival in the Old Testament history.

The whole city turns to God. It wasn't because of the fish. It was because of Jonah. Jonah was the sign.

He lived through it. Jesus is saying, I'm the sign that you must believe in. I'm the one sent from God. I am the way, the truth, and the life, but you miss it altogether because you will not believe.

And if you will allow me the freedom to add this, I think at that point he's fed up with it. See, what it says? Then Jesus left them and went away. You know what?

He could have stayed for five more days, ten more days, two more weeks, and they would have been just the same. He knew that, which allows me to pause and say a word to you whose zeal sometimes outruns your wisdom. You care about Christ. You want to make him known to everyone around, and you have a few who have refused to believe, and so you decide you need to say more. Or perhaps you need to talk louder, or you need to corner them so as to convince them, please.

Learn a lesson from Jesus. There comes a time when, in my words, enough was enough. Enough is enough. I have discovered in my years on this earth that in some people, saying more communicates less and conveys less of what we really want them to hear. They're already either on the spot or angry or for whatever reason turned off, and they may even be the type that say they want more evidence. Let's face it, you'll never have enough evidence for some people. I mean, Jesus, the God-man, could have brought all kinds of evidence. He walked away.

So let me encourage you not to waste your time by pushing and pushing hard against a locked door. God has his timing, and as I'll say before I'm through today, he has his way of bringing us to an end, for our needs are so enormous we cannot do anything but soften and turn to him. But that was not the moment for this, for the Pharisees and the Sadducees. So Jesus walked away.

Now, now stay with this. It's easy to move quickly from this fourth verse right into the fifth and not bring the emotion with you. Learn when you read your Bible and you put yourself in the sandals of those who were living in that day to bring your emotions with you.

Think of Jesus. We have been going through page after page of his incredible work with others. It's, it's been phenomenal. Much of it has been miraculous. He has been a model of patience. He's fed the 5,000 and more. He's fed the 4,000 and more. He's had people bring the sick by and drop them off, and he heals every one of them, every one of them.

Prior to this, there were other settings. There were other scenes. All of this has a way of not only packing into your emotional reservoir these feelings, it also has a way of exhausting you. So when we get to verse 5, remember that. It will help you understand not the exhaustion but the preoccupation that Jesus experiences when he's with the disciples. He's still thinking of what has gone on. He's still remembering this, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and which is why he moves quickly into that with a disciple. They don't get it. They, they're thinking about something else and we're gonna see it in just a moment. But now the, the move from the, from the group of hostile opponents back with his disciples, verse 5, they're crossing the sea of the lake and while doing so, remember Jesus thinking where he was, what's gone on, what's been said, and the disciples who forgot to bring any bread.

Duh. Jesus decides, when he hears the word bread, because it certainly was said, among them, Andrew, why in the world didn't you bring the bread? Well, I didn't know I was supposed to. Andrew, you were the last one leaving. You had the big basket full. Why didn't you bring at least a few loaves? What were you thinking? Where is your head? What about you, Peter?

You lead the group. You're the one that should think about, and it was back and forth, back and forth, and they're arguing about bread. Jesus hears bread and he says, remember, preoccupation, he says, watch out, beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And the disciples are like, what?

Pharisees, yeast, beware? You see, back where they are, verse 7, they began to argue with each other because they hadn't brought any bread, they hadn't got any bread, and they don't have any way of getting bread, and Jesus finally gets fed up with them. And he says to them, since he knew what they were saying, you have so little faith. Moments like this are, you know, like the times when your mom and dad called you and include your middle name.

You know that's not going to lead to a good result when they add that. This is a reproof. You have such little bread, you want bread, I can fill this boat with bread. In fact, look at how he puts it, don't you understand even yet, don't you remember the 5,000 I fed with the five loaves? Don't you remember the 4,000 I fed with the seven loaves and the large baskets of leftovers and you picked them up? Why can't you understand I'm not talking about literal bread? If you're hungry, say so and you'll be, well, up to your whatever, in bread on this boat. You'll have bread to let.

Get the spiritual message I'm trying to get across. Maybe it was when he raised his voice, if he did, and said, why can't you understand I'm not talking about, you know, loaves of bread? So again I say beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducee.

Watch out for that. Every time yeast is mentioned in the scriptures, it has a reference to evil and it's clearly here, they're deceptive teaching. And we read in verse 12, look at it, it's like at long last they understood. It was sort of like, oh, oh I got it. After all he had been saying and doing among them, it wasn't, it wasn't that they would not believe, it was that they, they were so preoccupied with the everyday stuff of life.

Jesus finally had to spell it out. I like the story Kent Hughes tells in his book on Mark. He says there was this man who went into a bank and said he wanted some money, so the teller asked him to make out a check and sign it and they would provide the money. The man didn't want to do that, so the teller said, if you won't sign, if you won't fill out and sign a check, I can't give you any money. So the man went across the street to his other bank, had the same conversation, but after the exchange with that teller who took a little different tack in his response, he grabbed the man by the ears and banged his head three times on the counter. After which the man took out his pen and he calmly wrote out and signed a check and gave it to the bank and they gave him the money. He went back to the other bank and he said, I got my money. And the teller looked incredulously and how'd that happen? Well, they explained it to me. Now, if I may, Jesus is explaining this to his dense disciples.

Why are you talking about having no bread? Bang. Do you still not see or understand? Bang. Or your hearts hardened to the truth of what I'm teaching? Bang. Don't you remember the five thousand? Bang.

How about the four thousand? Bang. And finally, don't you understand I'm teaching you a spiritual lesson? Bang.

Bang. Oh, now we get it. Now I got it. Simple little silly illustration, but I've just described the life of too many of us. Far too many. Maybe you can readily identify with this hypothetical exchange.

Most of us can. You're listening to Insight for Living and a message from Chuck Swindoll titled, Testy Critics and Dull Disciples. And there's much more from this sixteenth chapter of Matthew we need to explore, so please keep listening.

And to see what resources we have available for today's topic, please visit us online at Well, if there's one book in Chuck's collection that's known to liberate readers from getting stuck in this rut, it's the one I'm going to recommend right now. Years ago, Chuck wrote The Grace Awakening, and it continues to be a favorite. Too many people have allowed their well-intentioned devotion to God to morph into a performance-based lifestyle. To them, following Christ means following the rules. Yet God offers so much more to those who truly follow His plan. Well, we believe the biblical principles in The Grace Awakening, if applied, will shift your perspective from the bondage of legalism to freedom in Christ. To purchase a copy of The Grace Awakening, go to slash offer. And then as God prompts you to give a donation, please follow His lead.

There's no large church or institution that fully underwrites this nonprofit ministry. It's your voluntary donations that make it possible for us to provide these daily visits with Chuck. To give a donation today, call us. If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888. That's 1-800-772-8888. But make no mistake, your gifts are truly making a difference.

Recently, we heard from a widow who lives all alone. She said, Chuck, my husband and I would listen to you every morning on the way to work. We would time our commute so that we could listen to you. Today, I'm not able to leave the house, but I'm so glad that I can still hear your program. It's your donation that allows us to reach grateful listeners like this one. So please give us a call. Once again, if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. Or give a donation online at I'm Dave Spiker, inviting you to join us again Tuesday when Chuck Swindoll continues our study in the Gospel of Matthew, right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Testy Critics and Dull Disciples, was copyrighted in 2016 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-21 16:46:46 / 2023-09-21 16:55:41 / 9

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