Paul leaves Ephesus to encourage churches around the Aegean. On his way to Jerusalem, Paul takes time out to meet with the Ephesian elders.
Here is a link to the livestream video:
In the midst of a discussion with some very religious people, Jesus confronts them saying,
… The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
He is only confirming what we have heard many times before – that not everyone will believe. Even among the religious there will be deceivers, many of whom have first deceived themselves. In those days it was Jews celebrating Hanukkah, in our day it might be Christians celebrating Christmas.
In Matthew Jesus spoke of weeds growing in the wheat field and bad fish that needed to be thrown out. Paul elaborates on the same theme to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor 11.
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Lets not be surprised when the church disappoints us or seems to be veering off track. Some of it is intentional and motivated by those who never knew Jesus to begin with. As he put it in the Sermon on the Mount,
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Jesus and his disciples were in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.
14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
Matthew 16:12 provides an explanation that Mark neglects.
Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
(By the way, there was a lot of overlap in the views of Herod or the Herodians as some manuscripts have it, and the Sadducees. Rather than conflicting, these passages help explain one another.)
Jesus’s point is that the teaching of these groups was riddled with error, a problem that is common enough today. Let’s ask for help in the face of that:
Both the world and the church are filled with false teaching. This is nothing new. In the past there were many false prophets. The church has continuously dealt with false teaching. Then there are the views of the surrounding culture, which are very popular and very hard for us not to absorb.
Help us to keep our belief and doctrine pure. Help us to not go astray as we seek to follow you. Help us not to buy into the teaching of “another Jesus” as Paul so accurately puts it. We want to keep ourselves from idols as John warns.
We need your Holy Spirit to teach us as we seek to learn from you. As we open the Scriptures with a desire to obey, we need you to open the eyes of our understanding. Help us not to seek teaching that scratches our itching ears. Help us to desire the purest of spiritual milk. Help us to long for the truth and keep us safe from the lies of the devil.
Finally, help us to be faithful when we know full well that we are often lacking in faith.