The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity

How is it that ye do not understand?
— St. Mark. 8:21

After feeding the four thousand with seven loaves and a few small fishes, Jesus, having crossed the lake, was met on the other side by certain Pharisees, whose attitude towards him was such that he betook himself again to the boat. On the way back across, the disciples realized that they had but a single loaf. Jesus, still thinking of the Pharisees, and desirous of destroying their influence on his disciples, began to warn them against them. In so doing he made use of a figure they had heard him use before—that of leaven as representing a hidden but potent and pervading energy: the kingdom of heaven, he had told them, was like leaven hid in meal, gradually leavening the whole of it. He now tells them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. The disciples, occupied with their lack of provision, the moment they heard the word leaven, thought of bread, and imagined perhaps a warning against some danger of defilement from Pharisaical cookery. The leaven like that of the Pharisees was even then at work in their hearts; for the sign the Pharisees sought, they had had a few hours before, and had already, in respect of all that made it of value, forgotten.

It is to the man who is obedient to the word of the Master, that the word of the Master unfolds itself. For life, that is, action, is alone the human condition into which the light of the Living can penetrate; life alone can assimilate life, can change food into growth. See how the disciples here fooled themselves!

Commentary

by Leah Bond

This Easter Sunday we begin the sermon on "The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity"; we could also say,  foolishness or "hard-heartedness."   Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the Resurrection and the Life of our Lord, Our Savior who quietly, with Heaven alone watching, accomplished in Glory the fulfillment of the power of Love over the broken state of this world. He accomplished what was promised for thousands of years, redemption in His resurrection from death.

Going back to the beginning of the sermon, Christ worked his miracle of feeding the thousands. They followed Him, For MORE of Him, and he chose to use his power out of compassion for them. It was Him they needed, so they followed, andwhen they also needed food, he provided.

The Pharisees demanded signs of power of Christ, to "test" him, as they sought to be the judge over Christ. They had positions of religious "power" over the people. Worldly kingdom thinking! If they asserted authority over Christ, they would be able to control His power. Who better to have the power than them, they might say! They might have reasoned how much "good" they would do, but only if they could have control. The world, they reasoned, would be a better place if they had the power.

Their broken way of thinking was revealed as they sought to test Christ. When they asked which husband (of the seven brothers who had married one woman,) would possess this woman in the heavenly kingdom, as if power of man over woman, man as man's possession, existed in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Pharisees tested Christ by asking about their need to submit to the authority of the governments to tax them! Still looking for power, control and status rules for the kingdom of heaven. Even the disciples argued over their future status in the Kingdom of Heaven. Even the disciples sent the children, the least of these, away.

Christ again and again turned the earthly idea of power and status upside down. The less powerful, the lower in status in man's kingdom, the greater the glory the father will reveal in them in His kingdom.  The children of God are to be free from the leaven of wealth, power, control and status established by Herod and religious leaders of Christ's time. And ours.

The resurrection itself was orchestrated to deconstruct the power structure the religious had firmly established. The King was servant of all, and died for all.  Women were the first witnesses of the power of Life over death in the living resurrected Jesus.

Christ's statement was, and is, your ways are not My ways, follow my ways to be leavened with the kingdom of heaven. Separate yourselves by your obedience to Me! This is incredibly costly to us, as the world and the people in it continue on with status, power, riches and materialism as their currency, and we must part ways with them. But, what appears to be our loss will be revealed as Glory when we are in Him.

"And he sighed deeply in his spirit"... This is comforting to note, Christ's expression of compassion and sorrow over our "spiritual stupidity," (the persistent seeking to rule in the Kingdom of Heaven and spiritual life, through the attainment of earthly power, control, or resources). The disciples were concerned that what would go into them, bread, would corrupt them, when, truly it is the leaven in their hearts that would come out of them that Christ sought to keep pure for the sake of the coming kingdom of heaven.

The religious rulers see the power in the truth of the God of all creation, and seek to have it for themselves. Would we as true children of the Father, put our faith in earthly power or things? No, as true children we must, as Christ did, give up seeking power, rule over others, even our enemies, because in the right time, God will work His power in us. Like the Resurrected Christ, our resurrection glory will be born of our obedience, even as we commit our souls, minds bodies and hearts to our Father.  We do not have to attempt manipulation of God or man to have our needs met, we simply must go with Christ, and not leaven our thoughts and ideas with the lies and deceptions of the religious rulers who see the power of God as something to grasp for....