Mark 8:11–21 NRSV
The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And 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? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
We want signs. That’s where Satan began with Jesus. Remember back in the wilderness after Jesus fasted forty days when Satan approached him with this, “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones to bread.” Jesus promptly turned that one around with the reply, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (see Matthew 4).
If we are honest, we want a sign. We need to see something before we believe. Jesus says it’s just the opposite. Those who believe will see. Faith is a disposition of the heart—eyes that see and ears that hear. Jesus warned them—demanding signs is the antithesis of faith. Faith is not an empirical certainty but a deep inner confidence. The clamor for certainty leavens the clarity of faith.
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”
So often we come to big decisions in life and rather than the way of faith, we opt for the path of certainty. We list the pros and cons and do the cost-benefit analysis, hoping the defining sign will present itself. And to be sure, due diligence in our decision-making can be a good thing, but I’m not sure it’s the way of faith. I have a hunch that faith is built more on counting the cost than analyzing the data.
Are you facing a big decision in the days ahead? Ask yourself, what would it mean to walk by faith and not by sight? Faith is not blind. It’s a much deeper, richer, and ultimately clearer way of seeing. Spend more time counting the cost of the decision rather than endlessly seeking more data. Don’t let the quest for certainty override the gift of clarity. The ways of the Pharisees, which is the religious version of the ways of the world, leaven faith by amplifying the fear of failure. Faith means risk, not risk-management.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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