(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
13 A FOURTH WITHDRAWAL TO BETHSAIDA
(1) The Yeast Of The Pharisees And Sadducees And The Healing Of A Blind Man
Having responded to the question of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus and His disciples return by boat to the eastern shore of the Galilee; but the disciples “had forgotten to bring bread” ; no doubt this was a sparsely populated area and food was not readily available; so Jesus using this opportunity to teach His disciples a valuable lesson said to them; “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” , Mark adding “and that of Herod” , at which point the disciples thought that He said this because they did not bring any bread. Jesus then discusses the feeding of the five and four thousand people and Matthew records that Jesus was not referring to bread when He spoke of the “yeast”.
The purpose of the question put to Jesus by the Pharisees and Sadducees was certainly meant to put doubt in the minds of the disciples, and Jesus’ reference to yeast speaks to a symbol of the permeating evil of the Pharisees and Sadducees (and Herod), and He was warning the disciples not to be influenced by the evil unbelief, teachings, and character of these religious leaders “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” , since their only desire was the elimination of Jesus.
Upon their arrival in Bethsaida, Mark records the healing of a blind man that was brought to Jesus by some people from the village, and brings to mind some questions as to the process of the healing – Why did Jesus take the man outside the village? Why did Jesus use such an unconventional method of healing? Why did the healing process take two stages? Why did Jesus forbid the man from speaking about it to the other villagers? Mark is the only writer to record this incident, and since Jesus is The Sovereign Lord, He does not have to give an explanation to His methods; causing us to conclude that every case of divine healing is different, just as is every case of salvation from sin; some have clear spiritual vision from the moment of conversion while others take time to appreciate the fullness of their conversion.
14 THE DISCIPLES’ FAITH IN CHRIST IS CHALLENGED
(1) Peter’s Confession Of Christ As Messiah
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Jesus and His disciples travel north to the border of Israel and Syria to the region of Caesarea Philippi where He asks the disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is? , Mark and Luke record a similar question. The response of the group is that the people say He is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other O.T. prophets that has “come back to life” , whereupon Jesus challenges their faith in Him – “Who do you say I am?”. Peter, acting as the spokesman for the group states – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” and Luke’s record states “The Christ of God” – the predicted Deliverer or Messiah that the Jews had awaited since the time of the prophets but the Jews, unfortunately, were looking for a political messiah to deliver them from their Roman rulers and this was not the purpose of Christ’s first advent. Matthew’s account then states that Jesus replied to Peter’s statement indicating that his revelation did not come from a human source but that it came directly from “my Father in heaven”, adding that “on this rock I will build my church” and that the gates of Hades or Hell will not be able to overcome it .
Here Jesus was revealing the real purpose of His first advent which was to call out to himself a people of faith who would be the members of His Church, He would eventually give His life for such by His death upon the cross at Calvary, and the Church would survive all attacks that Satan can bring against it. Jesus was not saying that His Church would be built on Peter, He declares that His Church would be built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ Himself – “the Christ of God” although Peter, and the other apostles, would have the privilege of starting the church – “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven….” – and not only to them but to all disciples (believers) down through the ages until Christ Himself returns to set up His kingdom on earth.
Peter and the apostles had this privilege as is recorded in the opening chapters of the Acts of The Apostles, where the early days of the Church which began on the day of Pentecost is recorded; beginning with the Jewish believers, later adding the Gentile believers .
Jesus concluded His discourse with the warning – “not to tell anyone that he was the Christ” as he did not want this confirmed to the Jewish leaders since they were only looking for a Messiah to free them from Roman rule. The time would come when they would be free, but unfortunately many of them would become martyrs for their confession of faith.