This post is one in a series of reflections for Lent. I invite you to go back and read the previous reflections.
Think about the insanity in this passage. What all have we seen in Jesus ministry? He has fed a crowd of five thousand men and their families. He has walked on water. He has healed the deaf and blind. He has cast out countless evil spirits. As this passage opens, Jesus again feeds a large crowd in a miraculous way. Everyone in the crowd was filled and there still remained seven baskets of leftovers.
Into all that, the religious leaders come to Jesus, and ask to see a miraculous sign. I can picture the look on Jesus face. Are you serious? What more could he possibly do? We face that same type of people today. Some people do not want to believe in God. Even the audible voice of the Father would do nothing to persuade them. If a person wishes to find a reason to doubt in God, then they will be able to find one. These are the type of people who these religious leaders are. They are not asking to see a sign, in order to believe in Jesus. They want to see a sign, in order to discredit and attack Jesus. They have already accused him of using the power of Satan to cast out demons. They want to disbelieve, and they will find any excuse to back up their rejection of Jesus.
Jesus refuses to act any sign for them. What would be the point? It would be futile. These leaders have so hardened their hearts, that no matter the work he would do, they are not going to believe that he is the Messiah. Jesus is just not going to waste his time with these leaders. He is not going to entertain the idea, that one more miracle and they will believe. It is just not going to happen.
Now Jesus and the disciples get in the boat. They have lived everything that we have just read. They have seen Jesus miraculously feed over nine thousand people with nineteen baskets of leftovers. They have seen him walk on water. They have seen him command demons. They have seen him heal the sick. Now Jesus tells them to beware of the leaven of the religious leaders. He is trying to teach them that the teaching of these leaders has the potential to spread to all the people. The disciples don't hear that at all. They hear leaven. They think bread. Leaven is the thing, whether chemical or natural, that is added to bread to make it rise. They start to murmur to themselves. Jesus knows we don't have enough bread. Darn it! We are busted.
I imagine Jesus shaking his head. The disciples just don't get it. They are still missing the entire point. He asked them if their hearts are still so hard? Do they have eyes to see? Do they have ears to hear? They were there when he fed five thousand people with twelve baskets of left overs. They were there when he had fed four thousand with seven baskets of left overs. How much easier would it be for him to feed himself and the twelve disciples? After everything they had seen, they had still not been able to understand the great power of Jesus. Jesus has a power that they can simply not able to understand. There is no problem that they could encounter, that Jesus would be stump or impeded by.
Jesus had to impress on them once again the truth of his power. As they arrive in Bethsaida, they are approached by a blind man. In order to really show them what he is capable of, he heals this blind man.