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Worried About Bread or Watching For Leaven
After the sermon someone commented that they thought it was good that I had left the interpretation of leaven open so that each person could discover what what happening within their own heart. Indeed, the success of any sermon is not what happens on Sunday, necessarily, but what happens in the days that follow. I love it when people tell me, “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about . . . . that was mentioned (or read) in the sermon.” When preparing a sermon I wrestle with a text and it’s meaning which often causes me to wrestle with my own heart and soul as well. Sundays it sometimes feels like I hand off my discoveries to the church so that they can let it roll around in their hearts for awhile.
The text I preached this past Sunday (Mark 8:1-21) is actually the end of the first section of the book. Mark is bringing a conclusion to his teaching on the identity of Jesus and the failure of the Twelve to really understand. This story is built on the previous stories, especially the preceding ones where Jesus challenges the disciples to learn the difference between internals and externals; what truly makes a person clean or unclean. The list he gave on that occasion would so well for someone searching their heart for leaven to clean out:
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7:21-22)
When Jesus warned against the leaven of the Pharisees and that of Herod he at least had these in mind. It would do us all well to pay particularly close attention to these things and clean them out of our hearts before they take root and spread their venomous evil. After all, bread is no problem for Jesus – he can make as much as is needed. Leaven, on the other hand, causes him all kinds of problems. Let’s prove the genuineness of our faith but keeping the leaven out of lives.