Welcome to our beautiful study of Matthew.
Today, I want to preach the message, “God is healing your blindness.”
I’ll give you my thesis right off the bat: Pride will prevent us from seeing God. Which is really sad. God is already showing Himself to us, working in our lives, and we can’t see Him, because of pride.
Before we dive into our reading, can I re-share the popular tale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor’s New Clothes?
Once upon a time, there was this King who was an incurable fashionista. I’m sure he owned al the issues of GQ magazine. And his Pinterest was 100% about Men’s Fashion.
This guy would never go out unless he had new suit.
One day, two swindlers heard about the King’s obsession, came to town, and boasted to him, “Your Highness, we have in our possession the most beautiful cloth in the world. But it’s mystical. It’s magical. Stupid people won’t be able to see it. To those with low IQ, it’s invisible. Only the wise can see the cloth.”
The King was sold. He said, “Oooooh, I want that mystical cloth! As a bonus, I’ll know who among my Ministers are wise or stupid!”
One Lie Will Need Eight Other Lies
The King gave the two men a little room in his palace to start sewing his new robe. And they went about “pretending” to weave and sew.
One day, the King sent one his oldest Advisors to check on them. When he entered the room, the two crooks appeared working on something, but obviously, the elderly man couldn’t see it. One of the swindlers said, “Do you see how the colors shine in the sunlight? Gorgeous, isn’t it?”
The Advisor was dumbfounded. If he said, “I don’t see a thing,” that meant he was stupid. So he said, “Uh yes, it shimmers beautifully!”
A few days later, the King sent his wisest Advisor. But the exact same thing happened. He also couldn’t see anything, but to protect himself, he claimed the cloth was “dazzling”.
Finally, the two thieves presented the new suit to the King. Alas, he also couldn’t see it. But the two Advisors who “saw” the cloth previously were the noisiest in the room, praising it to the highest heavens, declaring, “This is the most amazing robe in the world!”
The King thought to himself, “My ghad, I don’t see it. I’m stupid! But no one should know!” So he too started to gush over the suit. He said, “I have not seen anything like this in my entire life.”
And all the Royal Ministers in the Hall began applauded, “Beautiful!” and “Gorgeous!” and “Lovely!” and “Bienisimo!”
I’ve preached this before: One lie needs eight lies to prop it up. And each of those eight lies will need another set of eight to support it. Finally, a single lie will need a million lies to prop it up.
Why go to such complicated lengths to support a lie?
Once again, write this on stone: Pride.
Pride will cause people will maintain a million lies.
“The Show Must Go On!”
A few days later, the King decided to parade his new robe to his people. With trumpets announcing his coming, with Royal Guards pretending to hold the invisible train behind him, the Monarch walked out of the Palace.
Villagers on the road cheered and applauded. No one dared to say the obvious— that he was walking around in his underwear.
But there was one little child on the street. He pulled his father’s hand and said, “Dad, the King is only wearing his briefs!” (It’s funnier in Tagalog: “Naka-panty ang Hari!”)
The King heard the child. And he cringed. He realized he was duped by the swindlers. And everyone else was just playing along. It was all a lie!
But what can he do now? Admit that he was deceived? Never! He ordered his guards, “Keep walking!” In his mind, “The show must go on…”
There Was A Huge Lie Happening Too
This was what was happening in the time of Jesus.
The religious leaders were also saying, “The show must go on!”
Let’s read our key passage: One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. (16:1) Note that this is the only time in the four Gospels where you see both groups—and Sadducees and Pharisees—together. Why? They were mortal enemies. They hated each other’s guts.
The Sadducees were the priests in charge of the Temple, “sleeping” with the Romans to maintain their power, while the Pharisees were the “liberals” (surprising, right?) who were claiming they had the Mosaic authority to interpret the Torah. And yet here they were, bitter rivals, joining forces, because Jesus has become their Public Enemy #1.
But Jesus outsmarts all of them, using their own Rabbinic language: He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; 3 red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times! (v.2-3) Jesus was asking, “Why are you so blind? The God that you claim to serve is here. But you can’t see Him.”
He continued: Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (v.4a) This entire dialogue is almost a photocopy from Matthew 12. Bible writers love repetition, first to emphasize, and second, to mark sections of their writing. Because in the original manuscript, they had no chapters or verses. So Matthew used repetition to tell his readers, “It’s escalating, guys. Previously, it was just the Pharisees. Now, it’s also the Sadducees, the Big Bosses, asking for a sign…” Matthew was building up to the Crucifixion.
And Jesus was telling them again, “Guys, will you please open your eyes? You’re blind. I’m the sign!”
Isn’t that our problem?
Truth: What we usually are looking for is already in front of us. But our pride blinds us to God’s gift.
Watch what happens next…
A Little Unbiblical Detour (Sorry)
Then Jesus left them and went away. (v.4b) Oooooh, I like that.
Many times, we just have to leave people who don’t like us.
I know I’m totally out of topic here, but I can’t help it. All my life, I’ve probably received thousands of letters (no exaggeration) from single women, asking me, “My suitor ghosted me. He doesn’t answer my messages. I can’t sleep. How I can bring him back?”
Here’s my answer in Tagalog: “Kung ayaw niya sa ‘yo, away mo rin sa kanya.” I tell them, “Keep your dignity. Don’t grovel. Don’t chase him. He’s not worthy of you. You deserve better.”
Okay, sorry for my detour, haha. Back to the story…
Chatting In Different Channels
Let’s continue: Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 8 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? 9Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up?11Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread?” (v.5-11)
This is really funny. Like two guys chatting via shortwave radio using different channels. I think Matthew was bringing out how hilarious the conversation was. It’s so absurd, I compare it to how I was waiting for a guy in a Hotel Lobby—someone I’ve never met before.
Bo: “Hey Mark, where are you? I’m here in the Lobby.”
Mark: “Me too. Ten minutes ago. But I don’t see you.”
Bo: “I’m standing up near the big window. Do you see me now?”
Mark: “No. I’m standing near the big window, wearing pink…”
Bo: “Pink… pink… pink. Yes, I see you! Wait…. Are you pregnant?”
Mark: “Nope. I’m a guy!”
A couple of minutes later, we realized we were waiting in different hotels. I was in EDSA Shangrila while he was in Makati Shangrila.
In the same crazy way, the disciples were talking about physical bread, but Jesus was talking about spiritual food. Totally different topic.
And Jesus went even deeper and warned them about the existence of really bad spiritual food from the religious leaders: So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” 12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (v. 11-12, emphasis mine)
Because “Yeast” is a huge design pattern in the Bible. In Exodus, when the Israelites had to escape Egypt, God asked them to eat “unleavened bread”—or bread without yeast. Because yeast symbolizes “the little bit of evil” that destroys the entire truckload of bread. You find this theme all throughout the Bible. Never tolerate a “little bit of evil”. Go back to Genesis. One evil act steals Eden from generations.
Jesus called the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees “deceptive” because they were teaching about God, but how could they when they didn’t recognize God who was right in front of them.
Their Show Must Go On!
The Pharisees and Sadducees were trying to follow God.
Yet the God that they were trying to follow was right there in front of them, moving, touching, healing, serving, speaking in Jesus…
They couldn’t see Him. Why? Once again, it’s PRIDE.
Fact: The greatest liars already believe in their own lies, and that’s what happened to these religious leaders. These powerful guys had titles, positions, authority, privileges, and wealth to maintain.
To maintain their house of lies, Jesus had to die.
Sad Moments In My Life When I Missed God
Let me share my spiritual journey to you.
I’ve been following God for 40+ years. Really looooooooong.
But it was never a straight line. Oh, I wish I can share with you those really dark days when I allowed spiritual pride to eat me up. When I thought I knew everything. And I missed God working in surprising ways, especially through different people I deemed were “beneath” me—spiritually or intellectually.
My pride made me miss out on God’s work in my life.
I don’t want to make this horrible mistake again.
I want to remain humble.
Friend, I urge you, stop faking it.
The show doesn’t have to go on.
God is healing your blindness.#