Red and white tulips on the Cathedral grounds

Mark 8:11-21

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

So You are the Christ
You’re the great Jesus Christ
Prove to me that You’re divine
Change my water into wine

So if You are the Christ
You’re the great Jesus Christ
Prove to me that You’re no fool
Walk across my swimming pool

So if You are the Christ
Yes, the great Jesus Christ
Feed my household with this bread

Do you remember this from “King Herod’s Song” in Jesus Christ Superstar? If you are the Christ, he sings, then you need to prove it to me. Herod, in this musical, like the Pharisees in our lesson for this morning, wanted proof, signs, magic, and miracles as evidence that Jesus was worth listening to. Jesus laments these demands because they miss the point. He is not the Messiah because he can perform miracles, he is the Christ because he comes and proclaims God’s Word of love.

“Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees,” Jesus warns his disciples. Beware of this kind of thinking that demands miracles in order to be taken seriously, in order to be listened to. Listen rather to what Jesus is saying and ask yourself, as challenging as his teachings may be, whether or not there is a holiness in his words, a truth in his teachings, that requires nothing more than an open heart to realize that they express God’s eternal reality.

When Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you,” it doesn’t require a miracle to understand that these words are right and true in and of themselves. They may be teachings that are incredibly hard to live out, but they stand on their own and we know deep in our hearts that they proclaim a better way.

During these last days of Lent, ask yourself if you have qualified your faith in Jesus in any way. What, if anything, do you require before you can put your full trust and hope in Christ who gives us his life in order to show us God’s way of love? Maybe you are holding back until you have a few more prayers answered. Maybe you are hesitant until you have some kind of personal religious experience. Whatever the case, ask yourself if you believe God is truly present in the words of Jesus. If you believe these teachings are more than helpful philosophical and ethical suggestions, if you believe they contain a divine imperative, then give yourself to them and to the man from whose lips they originated.


Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.