A Roundabout Way

by DanWolgemuth on June 27, 2008

It often seems to me that as Jesus taught His disciples an important lesson, He didn’t take the “shortest route.” For instance, in Matthew 16 Jesus warns His band of followers about the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It was clear that Jesus had a deep concern about the doctrinal stance and the practical outworking of the teaching of these two groups.

However, instead of simply declaring His concern, Jesus takes a trip through the countryside. The disciples, having arrived at a particular destination, realize that they have done so without packing lunch.

When thedisciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. ~ Matthew 16:5

From this intersection, Jesus turns in the most unusual direction.

“Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

As the disciples worked to decipher the map of Jesus’ teaching, winding through “Betty Crockerland” and the perspective that He had enrolled them in a baking class, they finally arrived at the outpost of His intended destination by verse 12:

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.

How utterly inefficient. What a waste of intellectual fuel to turn this simple lesson into a group project, and yet how amazingly consistent with Jesus’ typical approach.

The lessons of Christ, the ones that He wanted deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of His followers, were communicated in a way that engaged multiple senses. He could have written this statement on the whiteboard: “Pharisees are hypocrites”  (Luke 12:1), but instead, He meandered through the educational countryside.

And yet I’m confident that Jesus’ intent and His methodology were precise and intentional. His design was for life to provide classroom reminders, long after the disciples had misplaced their lecture notes. Jesus wanted to connect the vital spiritual lessons to everyday experiences, which would provide poignant refresher courses long after Jesus had returned to His Father.

From this experience forward, every time a disciple walked by a bakery, every time he held a crust of bread in his hand, every time he witnessed the invisible, yet comprehensive impact of yeast, he would remember the pointed reminder. Jesus knew that the more senses he could engage in His teaching, the more likely the lesson was to connect.

Real lessons, connected to real life. You can almost smell the impact. It’s Theology 101 in the classroom of Jesus.

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