Jesus has been busy in the previous chapters. He has been doing miracles of healing and even feeding a crowd with 5,000 men (not counting women and children) from five loaves and two fish. He has even walked on water. If you add Mark’s account in 4:35-41, then you see he has calmed a storm. You would think that by this time, the disciples would have gained a better understanding of what Jesus could do even if they still didn’t really grasp who he is. However, they appear to be rather forgetful people. Now, they ask Jesus where they will get enough food to feed a crowd of 4,000 men (not counting women and children). Hey, they are getting better, they did come to Jesus and asked him. They may have been catching on but their confidence level is very low. Indeed, Jesus repeats the miracle to feed the crowd.
While the disciples may have been growing in their appreciation for Jesus, the Pharisees and Sadducees certainly hadn’t. They either saw these miracles or were well aware of them, yet they ask for a sign from heaven. They already had more signs that they could handle. Perhaps they were hoping that Jesus would try something like bringing down fire from heaven to prove himself as Elisha did. If he failed, then they could accuse him.
When Jesus tells his disciples to beware of the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ leaven, they draw a complete mind-blank. They forget feeding the crowds, the miracles, everything, and focus on what they have to eat.
I’m afraid that we do that all too often. When we read the Bible and see, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright” (Ps 20:7-8), we may do as the disciples and rejoice in the awe of what trusting God can do. However, when a predicament comes up or a less important decision, do we trust in the Lord or go off and try to take care of it without acknowledging him? Do we look at what he has done in the Bible and in our own lives and commit our way to him? Or are we even worse, like the Pharisees and Sadducees and want Jesus to prove himself to us by some miracle. Do we think less of God because he doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we want? Some people do, but I don’t want to fall into that trap.
Keeping out of that trap means remembering the goodness of our God. It means trusting him to work out all things for our good. It means thinking more and more like Jesus. It means asking for help but not so that we worship him only when he helps in the way we think is best. No, we commit to him and worship him in all circumstances.