13th August 2023 – Jesus and the Pharisees

13th August 2023 – Jesus and the Pharisees

Reading – Matt 16:1-4



  • We continue our journey through Matthew’s gospel.


  • This week we have two warnings from Jesus.


  • One is about impatience and the need for a sign. (Verses 1 to 4)


  • And the other is about false teaching. (Verses 5 to 12)


  • Talk about pharisees – what did they want, what were they teaching


The impatience of the Pharisees and the demand for a sign

  • I don’t know about you but this passage helps me to see that Jesus was both human and divine.


  • I can imagine him feeling angry and frustrated with the Pharisees.


  • By this time He had done many signs eg the feeding of the five thousand.


  • But the Pharisees were blind. They could not see what was right in front of their face.


  • It wasn’t enough that Jesus had healed the sick, calmed the storm, fed so many people.


  • No, they wanted a sign that would satisfy their own vanity and curiosity.


  • They wanted a sign for sake of a sign.


  • I wonder if they were testing Jesus to see how far they could push him?




  • Were they gathering evidence to trip him up?


  • The Pharisees were bright people academically.


  • They could interpret signs for example forecasting what the weather would be like based on the colour of the sky.


  • But they were blind spiritually.


  • They couldn’t see that the Messiah had come.


  • Or maybe they didn’t want to admit it.


  • This conversation was ended rather abruptly.


  • Maybe Christ was frustrated or just didn’t want to stay very long with people who were constantly putting him to the test.



  • Sometimes we only want to engage with God on our terms.


  • When I became a Christian, my prerequisite was that he had to show me that he was the god of the universe.


  • I was a bit like the Pharisees.


  • I wasn’t satisfied with what he had already done.


  • I needed something to satisfy my own curiosity.


  • I wonder, do you put God to the test sometimes?


  • Is there an area in your life where you will only accept God on your terms?


  • God has already done enough for us by sending his son to die on the cross.


  • He doesn’t need to do any more.


  • Because he is gracious, he does.


  • At least for now.


  • We are going to pray in a minute.


  • Let’s think about those times when we want to meet God on our terms.


  • Instead of his own and ask him to give us more patience to understand what he has already given us before asking for more.



  • Reading – Matt 16:5-12 – We need to be careful who we listen to



Jesus parable about false teaching Verse 5 to 12


  • The disciples misunderstand what Jesus is talking about.


  • They think that because he is talking about yeast, he must mean bread.


  • But instead he warns them about false teaching.


  • Yeast in bread helps the bread to rise.


  • So we have an analogy, the yeast of false teaching can help the teaching to rise.


  • You only have to look today on social media sites and see how much false teaching is rising in popularity.


  • False teaching can be damaging because it can lead to wrong things being taught.


  • When wrong things are taught, things become corrupted.



  • But anyway, I fancy a cup of tea now.


  • I wonder if one of the children can make me one?


  • Thank you


  • Hm, I wonder how nice this cup of tea will be?


  • You did put sugar in it, didn’t you?


  • Take a sip


  • Flurr! What did you put in that?


  • There was something that looked like sugar over there.


  • Did you ask whether it was sugar?


  • What else is white and looks a bit like sugar?


  • Salt!


  • I wanted to illustrate that we shouldn’t just accept things blindly.


  • If it sounds strange then we should question things and even if it looks familiar we should still question, never assume.


  • It is one way of challenging false teaching.


Going back to the source

  • One thing I was taught when I was doing my PHD is to always quote from sources.


  • Can anybody tell me, as Christians, what our source of reference might be?


  • The bible


  • So another way we can combat false teaching is to go back to the sources we know to be true


Sometimes people can try to convince you that things are true when they are not

  • Sometime things sound plausible when they are actually not true.


  • As we saw in the game we played, some things sound plausible on the surface.


  • Don’t always take things at face value.


  • Ask questions.


  • Pray about things.


  • And be open with God.


  • It is normal to have doubts.


  • It is not teaching or rituals that bring us closer to God but faith by grace.


  • So as long as you have faith in God, you don’t need to observe rituals, give money or do other things.


  • At the centre of everything is faith. Then from faith, you might decide to do things like give to the church, pray, get baptised and apply for membership, etc



  • We should meet God on his terms, not on our own.


  • Accept what God has already done for us and understand its value before asking for more.


  • Don’t be afraid to challenge false teaching.


  • If something doesn’t sound right, it is probably not. Go back and look at the source.


  • If we feed false teaching, that can be like yeast in bread, helping it to rise.


  • Faith is at the centre of everything. It is faith by grace, not rituals or works that brings us closer to God.


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