Jesus often spoke in riddles! So how is one to understand the things he says? With the Gift of Understanding!
Matthew 16:5-12 - The Gift of Understanding
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on Matthew 16:5-12. Listen.
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of understanding. This gift helps us understand God's heart and mind, which in turn helps us understand the things that God says. This passage illustrates this truth.
There are many rather interesting conversations between Jesus and his apostles, but perhaps the strangest is the one we just heard. Jesus and his apostles are making their way across the lake when Jesus makes an ambiguous remark about the Pharisees. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees," he said.
As usual, they didn't understand what he said. They think he is speaking about bread because they had forgotten to carry some. Jesus scolds them for not understanding, then makes a series of references to the miracles he had just performed before asking them: How is it that you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
Try reading this passage again and see if you can figure out how anybody is supposed to arrive at the conclusion Jesus wants them to arrive at. But, bewilderingly, it now all makes perfect sense to the apostles! Scripture says, "they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
This is the gift of understanding, which gives us a supernatural understanding of God's words. Many people find Scripture baffling and get turned off by it. It's not surprising we find it hard to understand because, as the prophet Isaiah said, God's thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). However, God wants us to know him, and if he sees we are determined to, he will bless us with the gift of understanding. Reading a passage or two of Scripture a week isn't a sign we want to know God; reading it constantly is, so if you haven't begun yet, now is the time to start!
May the Spirit be with you.