Saturday, February 6, 2016

Jesus doesn't Wants Us to Hide Behind Masks of Religious Piety (Mark 8:14-21)

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.’ They discussed this with one another and said, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? …He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’
(Mark 8:14-18, 21, NIV).

Have pity on Jesus’ disciples. They are like us sometimes. They misunderstood Jesus’ teaching altogether. When Jesus said, “Be careful. Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod,” their minds are still taken up with everyday physical matters like food, but Jesus was talking about spiritual matters. They could’ve ask Jesus further about what He meant, but instead they discussed the fact that they hadn’t brought enough bread to eat on their trip! But Jesus was warning them against something much more serious than forgetting their picnic basket. Luke, another Gospel writer, gave a more complete account of Jesus’ statement when He said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Matthew on the other hand, write that Jesus was talking about “the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12). So, Jesus was talking about their hypocrisy in conducts and teachings! [Note: Many “that of Herod” or Herodians were also Sadducees]

From my reading of the Scriptures, Jesus hate extremely these two things: unbelieve and hypocrisy. What is hypocrisy? Simply stated, it is pretending to be something or someone you’re not – putting up a front in order to conceal your true identity. The Greek word actually means, “playacting,” originally referred to the Greek dramatists who were famous for their masks (they act using masks). By the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were such accomplished hypocrites that they could have won Malaysia’s Anugerah Drama Festival! Remember what Jesus’ statement about them? “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). They concentrated on appearing righteous and religious in front of people, but it was only playacting. They were really far from God in their hearts.

Jesus compared hypocrisy to “yeast” or leaven. Why? Because when yeast is added to bread dough, it causes the bread to rise beyond its normal size. Thus, if you study a slice of bread, you’ll find that it is full of holes and empty inside. In the same way, like hypocrisy, even though they appear full and perfect looking on the outside, but in the inside it is full of holes and lots of empty spaces. Jesus had stronger words for the Pharisees and their hypocrisy than any other human condition. Because of their hypocrisy, they become unbelieve to what is obviously true, namely, Jesus’ divinity shows through His miracle (Mark 8:1-13).

If God does not want His people hiding behind masks of religious piety, then, what does He want? Let me suggest, how about being transparent. A transparent Christian is one who is completely honest about him or herself to others and especially to God. People can see right through them – they are not wearing any hypocritical masks. They not trying to act out a role which is different from what they really are. When they are fine, they are fine. But when they sinned against God or against others, they are ready to say, “Forgive me, I’ve done you wrongly” (See how a hypocrite and a transparent-person respond to their sin in Luke 18:9-14). Being transparent is important for Christians. We all blow it on occasion – angry words, hateful deeds, failure and sin. The key to recovery in such situations is not hypocrisy such as think positive thoughts, positive confessions, etc. Don’t pretending! Admitting to God and to your Christian brothers and sisters that you are less than perfect and that you are in need of forgiveness and restoration.

Being a transparent person isn’t easy. That’s for sure. Jesus was the most transparent person who ever walked the earth and He was treated rather badly for it. But it’s the kind of life-style God is looking for in His people. For some of you that might mean humiliation as you apologize to a group of friends for show-off hypocritically and judgmental attitude. Or it might mean embarrassment as you confess to your pastor or friends in the church that you’re still struggle with some particular sins and in need of prayers. Don’t be too concern with what people think of you, what God think about you is all that matter eternally. Be transparent. Don’t “play the role” but “live it like it is.” If you’re transparent and be honest to God, He can do something great in you. Do you understand now?


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