Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2nd Sunday after Sleebo - the Festival of Cross

Little Faith

by Fr. Dr. V.C. Varghese, TX.

Gospel: Matthew 16:5-12

When Jesus' disciples rejoined the Lord on the east side of of the lake, they had forgotten to take food with them. Therefore, when Jesus greeted them with a warning to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducee s, they thought He was saying "Don't go to those Jewish leaders for food supply." Their preoccupation with food caused them to look for a literal explanation where a spiritual lesson was intended.

In Jewish thinking, leaven was a symbol of evil. Both Pharisees and the Sadducees had infected the religious beliefs of Israel with false doctrine. The Pharisees were legalists who taught that only obedience to the Law and the traditions would please God and usher in His kingdom for Israel. The Sadducees were liberal in their thinking and denied that there would be such a kingdom on earth. They even denied the truth of the resurrection and the existence of angels.

The disciples misunderstood the Lord; they thought that He was talking about material bread. Often in the ministry of Jesus , people misconstrued His words by interpreting them literally rather than spiritually . Nicodemus thought that Jesus was talking about an actual physical birth (John 3:4), and the Samaritan woman thought He was referring to material water from the well (John 4:11). The Jewish crowd in the synagogue thought Jesus was speaking about eating actual flesh and blood (John 6:52) when He was describing a spiritual experience (John 6:63).

"Little faith" was one of our Lord's favorite names for His disciples (Matt.6:30; 8:26; 14:31). Of course, "little faith" is better than no faith. The disciples had many lessons to learn before they would graduate to "great faith." In Hebrew 11 all Christians are called to live by faith. In it, the writer discusses very important topics relating to faith. Heb.11:1-3 is not a definition of faith but a description of what faith does and how it works. True Bible faith is not blind optimism or a manufactured "hope-so" feeling. Neither is it an intellectual assent to a doctrine. It is certainly not believing in spite of evidence. That would be superstition.

True Bible faith is confident obedience to God's Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. This faith operates quite simply. God speaks and we hear His Word. We trust His Word and act on it no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences may be. The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown; but we obey God's Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best. The unsaved world doesn't understand true Bible faith, probably because it sees so little faith in action in the church today. The world fails to realize that faith is only as good as its object, and the object of our faith is God. Faith is not some "feeling" that we manufacture (as charismatics adherents). It is our total response to what God has revealed in His Word. This was the true challenge of faith which Jesus was expecting from His disciples then and from us today. Thanks everyone and God bless us all.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Sleebo

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