14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”16 They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread.17 When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
As I played this scene in my head this morning, I was grateful that Jesus was not just a teacher, but the most patient teacher there ever was. How frustrating it must have been, after demonstrating how five loaves could feed five thousand, or the seven loaves could feed four thousand, that his disciples, the very men who had been walking with him and listening to his teachings firsthand, could still miss the point of his lessons. How he must have shaken his head, that after talking about greater things, his men could still be hung up on the basic needs that he had proven to be already covered through faith and action.
|Bread basket at the Green Dragon Inn, New Zealand|
In the past, I taught law students about legal writing and research, and much as I loved to pass on my tips and techniques, I got easily frustrated when, even after several exercises and projects, my students still committed the same mistakes during the final exams.
They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. I imagined this scene and almost laughed out loud, thinking of the disciples, looking at each other, whispering, with puzzled expressions, trying to make sense of what their teacher was saying. In that scene, I could not fathom the depth of Jesus's patience, but could easily relate to the disciples' stubborn confusion.
I felt the Lord lovingly asking me, in my life, if I could remember how He had provided for me, and how there was always more than what I ever needed.
Ella, do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember? Do you still not understand?
I smiled as I recalled the "wicker baskets of fragments" that I was able to pick up after each answered prayer; the abundance, the generosity, the magnitude that always accompanied an event or milestone in my life, by the grace of God, especially the past year.
As I, voluntarily, face another impossible turning point in life, and Jesus speaks to me, I hope to hear what He is really saying, and not conclude to myself that it was because I forgot to bring bread in this castaway boat. May my heart and attitude be changed, and my feelings be lifted. May I see that I already have Jesus, my savior, and nothing should be impossible for me. Like the disciples and my law students, this lesson has to be repeated until learned.
For a bible study on leaven, I read this very helpful article.