Ringing the bells for Christian traditions and getting our story out there. If we don’t, who will?
Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper
1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper[a] came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus[b] stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
This miracle took place after Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, not far from Capernaum. It also resumes the widespread healing recorded at the end of Matthew 4, which I covered in April 2015.
As we saw last week, the crowds were in awe of His authority. They followed Him afterward (verse 1). That did not indicate that all — even most — of them were going to follow His teachings. Most were merely intrigued and curious.
A leper approached our Lord (verse 2). This was unheard of. Those diagnosed with leprosy had to isolate themselves from the rest of the population and when anyone walked past say, ‘Unclean’.
Leviticus 13 details what the Lord told Moses and Aaron about leprosy. A priest had to diagnose the condition and attempt to cure it. Not every skin condition was leprosy, hence the lengthy descriptions therein of what it is and what it is not.
As a disease Matthew Henry explains leprosy’s severity, its connection to personal sin in the Old Testament and how Christ is the only One who can heal and save us (emphases in bold mine):
This is fitly recorded with the first of Christ’s miracles, 1. Because the leprosy was looked upon, among the Jews, as a particular mark of God’s displeasure: hence we find Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah, smitten with leprosy for some one particular sin and therefore Christ, to show that he came to turn away the wrath of God, by taking away sin, began with the cure of a leper. 2. Because this disease, as it was supposed to come immediately from the hand of God, so also it was supposed to be removed immediately by his hand, and therefore it was not attempted to be cured by physicians, but was put under the inspection of the priests, the Lord’s ministers, who waited to see what God would do. And its being in a garment, or in the walls of a house, was altogether supernatural: and it should seem to be a disease of a quite different nature from what we now call the leprosy. The king of Israel said, Am I God, that I am sent to, to recover a man of a leprosy? 2 Kings 5:7. Christ proved himself God, by recovering many from the leprosy, and authorizing his disciples, in his name, to do so too (Matthew 10:8), and it is put among the proofs of his being the Messiah, Matthew 11:5. He also showed himself to be the Saviour of his people from their sins for though every disease is both the fruit of sin, and a figure of it, as the disorder of the soul, yet the leprosy was in a special manner so for it contracted such a pollution, and obliged to such a separation from holy things, as no other disease did and therefore in the laws concerning it (Leviticus 13:1-14:57), it is treated, not as a sickness, but as an uncleanness[;] the priest was to pronounce the party clean or unclean, according to the indications: but the honour of making the lepers clean was reserved for Christ, who was to do it as the High Priest of our profession he comes to do that which the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, Romans 8:3.
Note that the leper knelt before Jesus and said that He had the power to cleanse him, should He see fit to do so (verse 2). It is possible that, even though he was not allowed to go anywhere or interact with anyone, he overheard conversations about Jesus from passersby.
Jesus responded by touching the leper (verse 3). This was also unheard of. Leprosy is highly contagious. He then verbally agreed to the man’s request: ‘I will; be clean’.
The man was completely cleansed straightaway. This was true of all of our Lord’s healing — what theologians refer to as creative — miracles. People were restored to immediate full health.
From a physical and social perspective, the Gospels show us our Lord’s temporal mercy. The leper, and others, had disorders which prevented them from engaging with life and people.
From a spiritual perspective, the appeals from the afflicted and resulting creative miracles show that only Christ has the power to deliver us from sin.
Matthew Henry explains:
Sin is the leprosy of the soul[;] it shuts us out from communion with God, to which that we maybe restored, it is necessary that we be cleansed from this leprosy, and this ought to be our great concern. Now observe, It is our comfort when we apply ourselves to Christ, as the great Physician, that if he will, he can make us clean and we should, with an humble, believing boldness, go to him and tell him so. That is, (1.) We must rest ourselves upon his power we must be confident of this, that Christ can make us clean. No guilt is so great but that there is a sufficiency in his righteousness to atone for it no corruption so strong, but there is a sufficiency in his grace to subdue it. God would not appoint a physician to his hospital that is not par negotio–every way qualified for the undertaking. (2.) We must recommend ourselves to his pity we cannot demand it as a debt, but we must humbly request it as a favour “Lord, if thou wilt. I throw myself at thy feet, and if I perish, I will perish there.”
Jesus instructed the cleansed man to go to the priest, without talking to anyone else beforehand, and offer the requisite sacrifice (verse 4).
Did the man do so? Mark 1:40-45, a three-year Lectionary reading, tells us that he couldn’t stop himself from telling others about his cleansing.
Luke 5:12-16, which I wrote about in July 2013, does not say whether the leper went to the priest or whether he told anyone else about it. In any case, word spread rapidly, necessitating Jesus’s retreat to desolate areas as He was besieged by crowds. My post on Luke’s account of the leper’s cleansing cites John MacArthur’s sermon in which he surmised that Jesus might have wanted the man to go to the priests for some breathing space. It would have taken them a week, in line with Leviticus 13, to pronounce the man as being cleansed.
John MacArthur gave his sermon on Matthew’s account of the leper in the 1970s. He says that what we call leprosy today is actually Hansen‘s Disease. Whilst the two are somewhat different, they are also similar:
Diseases can take different forms. Some can be eliminated altogether, and so we don’t really know if it was exactly the same. But it seems best to assume, from the description of Leviticus 13 … that it was extremely similar; and the only real comparison that we can draw to whatever this disease was will come from our understanding of the disease of leprosy. Throughout the history of study of these things, most people have drawn that parallel …
This disease, leprosy, as it’s called in the Bible, was no doubt picked up in Egypt. Most of the classic writers feel that leprosy originated in Egypt and, by the way, it is caused—they now know in medical science—by a bacillus or bacteria called mycobacterium leprae. And this disease has been found in at least one mummy that’s been uncovered in Egypt and it’s manifest on the physical body (because of the mummification) that this particular person did have leprosy. So we know it stretches way back into ancient times. This disease then, of course, as the children of Israel were in the land of Egypt, was transmitted to them; and when they came into the Promised Land, they carried this disease with them.
Now, it was a problem, because of the horror of the disease itself. And so God, as he built in many laws to the life of Israel to protect them from plagues and things, gave them laws to deal with leprosy, so they would not contract this disease.
MacArthur also told his congregation that Hansen’s Disease exists in the United States. This was its status in the 1970s:
By the way, you might also be interested to note that it is on the rise in the United States of America, and the state that leads America in incidents of leprosy is California. Ten years ago, we had thirty to forty new cases a year, and now we’re over 300. So it can be controlled also today by what is called DDS Dapsone, I think it’s called. It’s some kind of a drug that is used, and it can only control the superficial elements of leprosy. It can’t eliminate it altogether, because it’s one disease that you can’t kill. It’s there till you die, as far as they can tell. There may be some cases, but normally, that’s the way it runs.
His sermon explains how it is contracted today:
Leprosy is passed—and I read this just in an up-to-date LA Times journal thing on, on the, on the medical analysis of Hans[e]n’s disease—leprosy is passed when it is inhaled through the air. It comes from the mouth into the mouth. That’s one way it is passed, and that’s why, when he goes around, he covers his mouth. Also, they found that people have contracted leprosy when they have both touched the same object; that the bacillus can exist on the same object. For example, they have cases where people have gone in to get tattooed, and when they were tattooed by the same needle, they came up with the same kind of leprosy …
This is what happens:
The first thing that leprosy does, it attacks—apart from its physical symptoms, what you see, the patchiness and so forth—it attacks the nervous system and immediately anesthetizes the limbs.
People say, “Well, their noses just fall off, and their fingers fall off.” Not really. Part of the problem is, when they lose all their feeling, they literally rub their extremities off. They found in the leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, in the United States, that when they’ve studied people who have leprosy that this is what happened. For example, a man who has leprosy has ill-fitting shoes, and because he can’t feel that they’re ill-fitting at all, they rub his toes off. And a woman who works with her hands finds that she rubs her fingers off, because she has no sensitivity to what’s happening to her hands. And they rub their faces the same way; and you add to that that leprosy further attacks the bone marrow. It infects, then, the blood supply. The bones begin to shrivel, and as the bones shrivel, they draw the skin and the tissue in so that they appear to have fingers like claws and feet like claws that do the same thing. And there is then that oozing that occurs, as well as the skin disease has its infection; and all of that combined when, when you use those infected, atrophying fingers, results in rubbing them off. Horrible thing. They literally lose their limbs.
It attacks the eyes and brings blindness, the teeth, and they fall out. It attacks the internal organs so that sterility occurs. Frankly, it’s not that painful. It’s just the most ugly thing imaginable in the world. Starts with a white or pink patch on the brow, the ear, the, the nose, the chin or the cheek. Then it begins to spread and becomes spongy, tumorous, bulbous, swellings all over the face. Then it becomes systemic, and that’s when it begins to come into the liver and the bone marrow, the blood supply. You lose your feeling, blindness.
Leprous suppurations emit a strong, unpleasant odour, repulsive to those around them.
We can well understand how it is seen to be a curse. Sin, too, is a curse. Our only Physician is Christ our Lord:
I see in this an analogy. This text, to me, is analogous to a conversion. Follow this thought in conclusion: leprosy, ceremonial unclean, demonstration of sin, it’s just like sin. Sin is pervasive. Sin is ugly. Sin is loathsome. Sin is communicable. Sin is incurable. Sin makes you an outcast. But the leper came with confidence. Why? Because he got desperate enough over his leprosy, right? That’s how conversion happens. People don’t get saved unless they get desperate over the loathsomeness of the disease of sin. And, beloved, that is so missing in the evangelism of our time. The man came. He lost all the social stigma. He lost all of the fear of being ostracized. He didn’t care about that anymore. He was overwhelmed with the loathsomeness of his disease. Coming to Christ is not getting on the bandwagon. It’s being wretched and knowing it.
Next time: Matthew 8:5-13
We hadn’t really walked along much of Quai St Pierre until June 2015. Our earlier impressions from several years ago was that this might be a prime location for tourist traps.
So, this year, we thought we’d give it a go. Most of the restaurant menus did not appeal to us, either because of the selection on offer or the prices seemed a bit steep.
I selected Au Mal Assis which has been at 15 Quai St Pierre since it first opened its doors in 1914. My hope was that, as it is still family-owned, it would offer honest fare at a fair price. Neither of us wanted food poisoning, either, so this seemed a safe bet.
(Photo credit: Trip Advisor)
These days, the Old Port’s focus is tourism and slips for the many yachts that come in from various countries. However, a century ago, it bustled with Cannes’s commercial fishermen. Au Mal Assis’s menu comes complete with fascinating photos of the restaurant at that time, a very different scene altogether.
The menu does not explain how the restaurant got its name. ‘Mal assis’ means poorly seated or uncomfortable. Perhaps an old private joke or irony is involved.
SpouseMouse and I were greeted and seated promptly at an end table on the terrace, with yachts in full view — pleasant! The place was already filling up at 7:30 p.m. It seemed to be restaurant with the most customers along Quai St Pierre. Many had only a few. Some had none at all.
We opted for the prix fixe — formule — menu. Both of us started with half a dozen oysters each. These were fines de claire from the Oléron region along the west coast of France. They were sweet and succulent, with just the right amount of saltiness.
Although they came with some sort of condiment which I did not note, many French oyster lovers enjoy them just as they are, straight out of the shell. I can see why. I would advise against adding anything to such a delightful delicacy.
It’s great that Au Mal Assis stores the oysters in their crates in an ice cabinet in full view of patrons. I had a look and all were from the Oléron. Wait staff frequently came out to take boxes to the kitchen.
For a main course, SpouseMouse chose the loup — Mediterranean sea bass — in sauce vierge, which is comprised of olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and chopped basil. I opted for gambas — jumbo prawns, a local speciality — which came with plenty of garlic butter and a perfectly sized timbale of rice. They were unctuous and beautifully prepared!
For dessert, my better half had a competently done moelleux au chocolat — chocolate fondant — whilst I opted for a delicious assiette de fromage.
We drank — again! — Minuty Cuvée Préstige (rosé) : price considerations. I haven’t been stating the wine year in any of these reviews because normally what’s on offer at a reasonable price is rosé from the previous year. Hence, we drank 2014 wines throughout.
The bill came to €91.20 — not terribly cheap given the brasserie atmosphere, but we did not feel cheated.
The owner — a middle aged man — is frequently around. He greeted us and showed us to our table. He is also available if patrons have questions or are seeking recommendations.
Wait staff are cordial and unobtrusive in the classic French manner. After Restaurant Catherine this came as a relief. Despite it being busy, our courses arrived in a timely manner.
Tables are spaced fairly close together. Talking to the people next to you is a likely possibility. We conversed briefly with the Russian couple next to us. The man asked us for suggestions on what to do after dinner.
I look forward to returning to Au Mal Assis on our next visit! No doubt, they are enjoying another busy, successful summer season.
Although it has been in business for a few years, Le Bistrot du Suquet, 20 rue du Suquet, was a new find for us in June 2015.
(Photo credit: Trip Advisor)
It is run by three twentysomethings who trained and worked together at the Grand Hotel on the Croisette, home to the highly esteemed Le Park 45. They learned well and have brought their expertise to Le Suquet, Cannes’s old quarter.
We met Julien, aged 26, one Sunday afternoon when we were doing our usual menu reading. He explained that he sources all the ingredients from the nearby Marché Forville. His specialist wine merchant was a short walk away. He gave us business cards and hoped he would see us that evening.
Instead, we went for dinner a few days later and were not disappointed. We ordered off the prix fixe menu.
The table arrangement we had is a bit different from the one in the photo, which dates from 2013. There were a few tables for two on our part of the terrace. They were the size of nightclub tables, a bit small for dining, but, in the end, adequate.
Every centimetre counts! In order to avoid taking up valuable table space with baskets, Julien brought out small bakery bags with several slices of bread inside. The water glasses were deep red beakers. Yet, there was fine napery, including napkins. The atmosphere is quirky and different, elegant and downmarket at the same time.
As we sat near the door, SpouseMouse was able to get a better idea of the wine selection inside — very upmarket, indeed. So, we drank Minuty Côtes de Provence (rosé).
We were given amuse bouches, the specifics of which I do not recall, other than that they were stylish, tasty and competently prepared.
I started with a dozen escargots smothered in garlicky, rich persillade — generous and delicious. SpouseMouse enjoyed a cassolette de St Jacques, a creamy scallop casserole with potatoes and vegetables.
We both ordered the Bistrot’s interpretation of Tournedos de Rossini, which we ordered saignant — rare — much to Julien’s delight. Instead of a slice of foie gras lobe on top, it was their homemade foie gras mi-cuit, which worked very well and melted nicely on the fillet. The beef was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented.
SpouseMouse ordered an elegant dessert, details of which I did not note. I went with the generous cheese assortment which came with a perfectly-sized portion of mesclun salad, lightly dressed in vinaigrette.
SpouseMouse enjoyed watching the chefs cook in the tiny open kitchen. They were happy, smiling and talking all the while. Although most of the tables indoors and out were full, these two managed to ensure that turnaround was efficient. No one had a lengthy wait between courses. Julien delivered plates promptly and cheerfully to his customers, stopping to ask them if they needed anything else and how everything was. He was the only server. L’Antidote could learn a lot from watching this group!
During a quieter moment, SpouseMouse and Julien had quite a conversation about wine. At the end of dinner, Julien appeared with a complimentary digestif, 15-year old Château du Breuil Calvados. What a revelation! We ordered two more, which tacked another €15 onto the check, which came to €154, the most expensive but also one of the most agreeable evenings we had on this trip.
Some of the Trip Advisor reviewers said that Julien had grossly overcharged them. If so, he will need to manage wine and food prices more carefully. Both have come in for criticism for being inaccurate or misrepresented.
On another subject, one of my forks could have been cleaner, but I exchanged it for a clean one at an empty table. These are the little things, often overlooked, that customers remember.
That said, we would happily return to the Bistrot du Suquet where one can sit back and enjoy excellent French classics. It’s well run, competent and delightful.
We wish Julien and his chefs the very best for the future.
Before writing about the restaurants in Cannes that we really like, I wanted to get the negative reviews out of the way.
(Photo credit: Justacoté)
We do not recall Modo Mio from our past trips yet it was there.
Furthermore, the new incarnation — Restaurant Catherine — uses the old, branded Modo Mio menus, which we found rather confusing. They must have cost a lot of money. We’d never seen menus which are stiff, thick laminate pages bound together into a book.
We ate there in June 2015, attracted by the local fish for two at €22. Catherine told us it was not available, so one of us had sea bream and the other loup — local sea bass from the Mediterranean.
Before that, we started with pan fried foie gras. The portions were too large — three slices of lobe instead of two. Normally, foie gras prepared in this manner comes with a few slices of fruit — e.g. figs — sautéed in the same pan, which is a perfect marriage of flavour and texture. Instead, Catherine’s came with a salad and slice of fig and raisin bread — hardly the same. Whilst the foie gras was perfectly done, the accompaniments did not lift the dish.
The fish was a Hollywood production. Catherine came with two platters of grilled fish which she painstakingly filleted in front of us. This took an age. Meanwhile, she couldn’t stop talking to us. I asked for the skin and tail, which she thought was an outrageous request. This resulted in more monologue: ‘No one eats that’. So, SpouseMouse requested the same!
Then, she explained how she was filleting the fish. I’d had about enough by that point — five minutes in on the first fish with longer to go — and said that I understood what she was doing, as I fillet my own fish at home. She looked at me in amazement.
Unfortunately, her amazement didn’t stop her from talking. We then got an explanation of the difference between loup — from the Mediterranean — and bar, which comes from the Atlantic. We knew that already, too, from one of our first trips.
The fish was excellent, but one would have comfortably served both of us. The tails were wonderfully crispy, too. On the down side, the fish had quite a few bones. The accompanying vegetables were sautéed with oriental spices — interesting. However, the spices added nothing to the dish.
By the time we’d finished the fish, I could eat no more. SpouseMouse ordered a mousseux au chocolat, which was a heavenly chocolate fondant on a beautifully decorated plate. Catherine’s pastry chef, a young woman, brought it to the table.
We drank Château Minuty Préstige (rosé).
Dinner cost €133 for two, which was rather pricey. If I remember rightly, we ordered à la carte as the prix fixe menu was unimpressive.
‘Modo mio’ means ‘my way’. That certainly sums Catherine up perfectly.
She knows everything. Everyone else needs educating.
A Frenchwoman at another table asked her about a particular dish and politely questioned Catherine’s preparation. Catherine retorted, ‘But, madame, that’s the recipe! That’s how it’s done!’
Catherine reminds me of owners in trouble who feature on Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares. I can’t see how this business will be viable. When we walked past before and after our dinner, only one diner was there, except for one evening when there were three.
At one point, Catherine came up and told us she received the maximum rating from Trip Advisor. She walked away and returned with a laminated page that Trip Advisor sent her with the ‘excellent’ rating. We suggested that she put it in her window as marketing, which is sorely needed. She never did. Instead, she keeps it in back at the till, which no one sees unless they are walking past on their way to the loo.
Speaking of loos, she must have spent a lot of money on them, because they are totally unlike any others on that street. They are ultra-modern and beautifully appointed. Still, how much does one need to spend on a restaurant loo?
I wrote our impressions and suggestions in my food diary:
– Madame talks too much.
– Portions, whilst well prepared, are way too large. That made me wonder about her profit margins.
– The menu reflects an interesting concept — a twist on the traditional Franco-Italian — and, as such, the restaurant might do better in a less expensive location on a side street.
– Catherine needs to clarify the restaurant’s identity, but those Modo Mio menus are too expensive to throw out now.
I wish her the very best, but her manner is somewhat unfortunate. We won’t be going back.
My thanks to reader Underground Pewster who recently sent in an article about alcohol and food consumption.
(Photo credit: Lesley Voth’s Simply Fantastic)
Underground Pewster introduced ‘Alcohol triggers brain’s response to food aromas, increases caloric intake in women’ as follows:
We all know that a good glass of wine complements the meal, scientists are tracking down the brain pathways involved.
Although the alcohol was delivered intravenously rather than orally, the female participants in the Indiana University School of Medicine group ate more at lunch afterward than the ladies who had been given a saline-only IV infusion.
Restaurauteurs will be happy Dr David A. Kareken’s researchers concluded that (emphases mine):
food intake increased after the IV infusion of alcohol compared with a saline-only infusion (P = .04). In addition, functional MRI imaging showed a significantly increased left hypothalamic response to food aromas after an alcohol infusion in participants. Levels of the gut hormone ghrelin also were reduced after alcohol infusion.
… alcohol affected ghrelin in a fashion similar to ingested alcohol.
“Some of the next steps in humans would be to understand how alcohol affects hypothalamic communication with other cortical and subcortical brain reward areas,” Kareken said. “Whereas animal models may be better suited to understand the precise dynamics of how alcohol affects signaling within hypothalamic networks.”
Ghrelin is a peptide hormone. It was discovered in 1996 and first reported on in 1999.
Researchers have found that ghrelin is lower in obese people. You and Your Hormones explains:
Eating reduces concentrations of ghrelin. Different nutrients slow down ghrelin release to varying degrees; carbohydrates and proteins restrict the production and release of ghrelin to a greater extent than fats.
Somatostatin also restricts ghrelin release, as well as many other hormones released from the digestive tract.
It seems that if one wants to increase ghrelin production and release to lose weight, the ketogenic diet might work well. It is high in fat, very low in carbohydrate and moderate in protein. Most Westerners gorge on carb and protein whilst reducing fat, which leads to more frequent meals and an inefficient use of insulin. Hence our high rates of obesity and diabetes.
As far as alcohol is concerned, it was only in 2012 that the first results were released on the effect of strong drink on humans. These confirm what people have known for millennia: drink hits a sweet spot in the brain. From the Daily Mail:
Previously scientists had deduced from animal studies that the pleasurable effects of alcohol come from the release of endorphins in the brain.
But new research used scanning technology to ‘light up’ the brain regions of drinkers, showing where it has the biggest impact.
A study from the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Centre at the University of California marks the first time that endorphin release in two regions of the brain, the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex, in response to drinking alcohol has been directly observed in humans.
Ernest Gallo Clinic — marvellous!
The researchers said that this pleasurable effect on the brain can cause certain people to overdo it. They add that too much drink not only makes one inebriated, it can lead to anxiety and depression. They conclude:
If we better understand how endorphins control drinking, we will have a better chance of creating more targeted therapies for substance addiction.
Bottom line: drinking in moderation releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Excess consumption stops the release of these substances.
Eat, drink and be merry — then put down the bottle.
Along with the instruction to build our spiritual houses upon rock, another passage in Matthew 7 from the Sermon on the Mount which bears close scrutiny is our Lord’s teaching on who will be turned away from the kingdom of heaven.
I Never Knew You
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.’
It is in the three-year Lectionary. One can only wonder about the sermons preached on it. Any number of clergy — as well as congregants — are guilty.
Matthew Henry’s commentary unpacks this passage brilliantly. Excerpts follow. Emphases in bold are mine.
We have an exhortation to sincerity in prayer and use of our Lord’s name:
I. He shows, by a plain remonstrance, that an outward profession of religion, however remarkable, will not bring us to heaven, unless there be a correspondent conversation, Matthew 7:21-23. All judgment is committed to our Lord Jesus the keys are put into his hand he has power to prescribe new terms of life and death, and to judge men according to them: now this is a solemn declaration pursuant to that power. Observe here,
(1.) That it will not suffice to say, Lord, Lord in word and tongue to own Christ for our Master, and to make addresses to him, and professions of him accordingly: in prayer to God, in discourse with men, we must call Christ, Lord, Lord we say well, for so he is (John 13:13) but can we imagine that this is enough to bring us to heaven, that such a piece of formality as this should be so recompensed, or that he who knows and requires the heart should be so put off with shows for substance? Compliments among men are pieces of civility that are returned with compliments, but they are never paid as real services and can they then be of an account with Christ? There may be a seeming importunity in prayer, Lord, Lord: but if inward impressions be not answerable to outward expressions, we are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. This is not to take us off from saying, Lord, Lord from praying, and being earnest in prayer, from professing Christ’s name, and being bold in professing it, but from resting in these, in the form of godliness, without the power.
Then the call to obey Christ:
(2.) That it is necessary to our happiness that we do the will of Christ, which is indeed the will of his Father in heaven. The will of God, as Christ’s Father, is his will in the gospel, for there he is made known, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: and in him our Father. Now this is his will, that we believe in Christ, that we repent of sin, that we live a holy life, that we love one another. This is his will, even our sanctification. If we comply not with the will of God, we mock Christ in calling him Lord, as those did who put on him a gorgeous robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews. Saying and doing are two things, often parted in conversation of men: he that said, I go, sir, stirred never a step (Matthew 21:30) but these two things God has joined in his command, and let no man that puts them asunder think to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Some of us — ‘hypocrites’ — try to substitute legalism, ‘healing’, speaking in tongues and other wonderful works for obedience. This is a particularly sharp warning not to do so which bears rereading:
2. The hypocrite’s plea against the strictness of this law, offering other things in lieu of obedience, Matthew 7:22 … They put in their plea with great importunity, Lord, Lord and with great confidence, appealing to Christ concerning it Lord, does thou not know, (1.) That we have prophesied in thy name? Yes, it may be so Balaam and Caiaphas were overruled to prophesy, and Saul was against his will among the prophets, yet that did not save them. These prophesied in his name, but he did not send them they only made use of his name to serve a turn. Note, A man may be a preacher, may have gifts for the ministry, and an external call to it, and perhaps some success in it, and yet be a wicked man may help others to heaven, and yet come short himself. (2.) That in thy name we have cast out devils? That may be too Judas cast out devils, and yet was a son of perdition. Origen says, that in his time so prevalent was the name of Christ to cast out devils, that sometimes it availed when named by wicked Christians. A man might cast devils out of others, and yet have a devil, nay, be a devil himself. (3.) That in thy name we have done many wonderful works. There may be a faith of miracles, where there is no justifying faith none of that faith which works by love and obedience. Gifts of tongues and healing would recommend men to the world, but it is real holiness or sanctification that is accepted of God. Grace and love are a more excellent way than removing mountains, or speaking with the tongues of men and of angels, 1 Corinthians 13:1,2. Grace will bring a man to heaven without working miracles, but working miracles will never bring a man to heaven without grace. Observe, That which their heart was upon, in doing these works, and which they confided in, was the wonderfulness of them. Simon Magus wondered at the miracles (Acts 8:13), and therefore would give any money for power to do the like. Observe, They had not many good works to plead: they could not pretend to have done many gracious works of piety and charity one such would have passed better in their account than many wonderful works, which availed not at all, while they persisted in disobedience. Miracles have now ceased, and with them this plea but do not carnal hearts still encourage themselves in their groundless hopes, with the like vain supports? They think they shall go to heaven, because they have been of good repute among professors of religion, have kept fasts, and given alms, and have been preferred in the church as if this would atone for their reigning pride, worldliness, and sensuality and want of love to God and man. Bethel is their confidence (Jeremiah 48:13), they are haughty because of the holy mountain (Zephaniah 3:11) and boast that they are the temple of the Lord, Jeremiah 7:4. Let us take heed of resting in external privileges and performances, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand.
That’s quite a slap in the face of legalism, sensationalism and outward appearances! Sadly, however, these things are all the rage in our time. This bears repeating:
Grace will bring a man to heaven without working miracles, but working miracles will never bring a man to heaven without grace.
As does this:
Let us take heed of resting in external privileges and performances, lest we deceive ourselves, and perish eternally, as multitudes do, with a lie in our right hand.
It gets worse for people who base their lives on outward piety and hidden sin:
How it is expressed I never knew you [;] “I never owned you as my servants, no, not when you prophesied in my name, when you were in the height of your profession, and were most extolled.” This intimates, that if he had ever known them, as the Lord knows them that are his, had ever owned them and loved them as his, he would have known them, and owned them, and loved them, to the end but he never did know them, for he always knew them to be hypocrites, and rotten at heart, as he did Judas therefore, says he, depart from me. Has Christ need of such guests? When he came in the flesh, he called sinners to him (Matthew 9:13), but when he shall come again in glory, he will drive sinners from him.
They that would not come to him to be saved, must depart from him to be damned. To depart from Christ is the very hell of hell it is the foundation of all the misery of the damned, to be cut off from all hope of benefit from Christ and he mediation. Those that go no further in Christ’s service than a bare profession, he does not accept, nor will he own them in the great day. See from what a height of hope men may fall into the depth of misery! How they may go to hell, by the gates of heaven! This should be an awakening word to all Christians. If a preacher, one that cast out devils, and wrought miracles, be disowned of Christ for working iniquity what will become of us, if we be found such? And if we be such, we shall certainly be found such. At God’s bar, a profession of religion will not bear out any man in the practice and indulgence of sin therefore let every one that names the name of Christ, depart from all iniquity.
This is such a stark and pointed truth — ‘convicting’, as Americans would say.
I have read Henry’s passage several times over the weekend. I hope that you, too, will find it beneficial to your Christian walk.
Build Your House on the Rock
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
This reading is included in the three-year Lectionary. However, it bears close examination.
True conversion and obedience have been an intractable problem since the earliest days of the Church. Heresy entered quickly, some (Simon Magus) thought it was magic, others applied legalism instead of grace and, for many decades now, some Christian leaders have attempted to make the Church a worldly institution.
Matthew Henry explains how Jesus set out this teaching to the multitude (emphases mine). Henry died early in the 18th century and in his ministry encountered the same mindsets as clergy do today:
The hearers of Christ’s word are here divided into two sorts some that hear, and do what they hear others that hear and do not. Christ preached now to a mixed multitude, and he thus separates them, one from the other, as he will at the great day, when all nations shall be gathered before him. Christ is still speaking from heaven by his word and Spirits, speaks by ministers, by providences, and of those that hear him there are two sorts.
(1.) Some that hear his sayings and do them: blessed be God that there are any such, though comparatively few. To hear Christ is not barely to give him the hearing, but to obey him. Note, It highly concerns us all to do what we hear of the saying of Christ. It is a mercy that we hear his sayings: Blessed are those ears, Matthew 13:16,17. But, if we practise not what we hear, we receive that grace in vain. To do Christ’s sayings is conscientiously to abstain from the sins that he forbids, and to perform the duties that he requires. Our thoughts and affections, our words and actions, the temper of our minds, and the tenour of our lives, must be conformable to the gospel of Christ that is the doing he requires. All the sayings of Christ, not only the laws he has enacted, but the truths he has revealed, must be done by us. They are a light, not only to our eyes, but to our feet, and are designed not only to inform our judgments, but to reform our hearts and lives: nor do we indeed believe them, if we do not live up to them. Observe, It is not enough to hear Christ’s sayings, and understand them, hear them, and remember them, hear them, and talk of them, repeat them, dispute for them but we must hear, and do them. This do, and thou shalt live. Those only that hear, and do, are blessed (Luke 11:28; John 13:17), and are akin to Christ. Matthew 12:50.
(2.) There are others who hear Christ’s sayings and do them not their religion rests in bare hearing, and goes no further like children that have the rickets, their heads swell with empty notions, and indigested opinions, but their joints are weak, and they heavy and listless they neither can stir, nor care to stir, in any good duty they hear God’s words, as if they desired to know his ways, like a people that did righteousness, but they will not do them, Ezekiel 33:30,31; Isaiah 58:2. Thus they deceive themselves, as Micah, who thought himself happy, because he had a Levite to be his priest, though he had not the Lord to be his God. The seed is sown, but it never comes up they see their spots in the glass of the word, but wash them off, James 1:22,24. Thus they put a cheat upon their own souls for it is certain, if our hearing be not the means of our obedience, it will be the aggravation of our disobedience. Those who only hear Christ’s sayings, and do them not, sit down in the midway to heaven, and that will never bring them to their journey’s end. They are akin to Christ only by the half-blood, and our law allows not such to inherit.
The first group builds a spiritual house on the rock of Christ. The second on sand, where they fall prey to temptation and experience problems with faith.
John MacArthur examines the latter group in detail. Note that some appear to be saved and, in reality, are not:
… apart from hypocrites, there are two categories of the deceived in the church, the superficial and the involved. The superficial are the ones who call themselves Christians because when they were little they went to church or Sunday School or they got confirmed or made a decision, quote/unquote, “for Christ” …
Then there’s the involved who are deceived and they’re a much more subtle and serious group. They’re in the church up to their neck involved, and they know the gospel, they know the theology but they don’t obey the Word of God. They live in a constant state of sinfulness. Now, how does a deceived person know he’s deceived? How can we spot such a person? Let me give you some keys, and I want you to think these through.
Now, not everybody in these keys that I’m going to give you is really deceived but these are good indicators that someone might be deceived. If you want to spot someone who’s deceived, look first of all for someone who’s seeking feelings, blessings, experiences, healings, angels, miracles. Why? Chances are they’re more interested in the byproducts of the faith than they are the faith itself. They’re more interested in what they can get than the glory God can get. They’re more interested in themselves than in the exaltation of Christ.
Secondly, if you’re looking to see who might be deceived, look for people who are more committed to the denomination, the church, the organization than to the Word of God. Their kind of Christianity may be purely social …
Thirdly, look for people who are involved in theology as an academic interest. And you’ll find them all over the colleges and seminaries of our land. People who study theology, write books on theology, absolutely void of the righteousness of Christ. Theology for them is intellectual activity.
Fourthly, look for people who always seem stuck on one overemphasized point of theology. This is the person who bangs the proverbial drum for his own little area, some crazy quirk. And it usually is not some great divine insight. They’d like you to think that they are so close to God they have a great divine insight no one else has. The fact of the matter is they’re seeking a platform for the feeding of their ego. Watch for people with a lack of balance.
And one other thought. When you look for somebody who might be deceived, look for someone who is overindulgent in the name of grace, overindulgent in the name of grace. Lacks penitence, a true contrite heart, and so forth. Now, they all may be deceived and on the broad road to destruction, thinking all the while they’re going to heaven.
This is a pretty wide net. I’ve fallen foul of at least one of these in years past!
Those of us with websites presenting a ‘Christian’ perspective, even in a secular context, bear a heavy responsibility.
How are we representing Christianity? Are we repelling people unnecessarily through legalism or a misreading of the Bible? Are we discussing the grace and peace of Christ?
Or are we placing the power of man above the power of God? Some of us do by dwelling on things that cannot be fully substantiated. Some of us alarm others unnecessarily about the world, whether that be climate change or conspiracy theories. Others write as if they are carrying a king-size banner of faith when they actually have deep-rooted personal unbelief or issues to resolve.
Are we permanently angry or fearful? Are we banging on about the same earthly thing all the time and not moving on to speak of our Lord? Are we reading the Bible, the Reformers and men of true faith or are we studying what panicked sect leaders have to say? Are we seeking the eternal truth or a dark thrill?
How have our inner lives changed over the past five years? The past ten? Are our preoccupations dark or are they of hope in Christ?
Is ours a foundation of rock or is it one of sand?
Pray for balance.
Pray for personal faith.
Pray for sanctification.
Pray for increase of all of these.
Pray, pray, pray.
Christianity has become so superficial. It just galls me to hear some of the presentations of Christ that are supposed to be legitimate. Sermons that have absolutely nothing to do with the gospel, and then you give an invitation at the end and people are accepting who knows what.
There’s no deep plowing, there’s no spadework, there’s no foundation, there’s no brokenness of heart. Arthur Pink says, “If I have never mourned over my waywardness then I have no solid ground for rejoicing” …
Dig deep, the one who digs deep empties himself of self-righteousness, empties himself of self-sufficiency, knows he has nothing, knows he’s not commendable, overwhelmed with his sin … He makes the maximum effort to place the Word of God in his heart that he might not sin.
He is interested in a genuine love relationship with Jesus Christ, not a routine of spiritual activity. He does not build on visions. He does not build on experiences. He does not build on supposed miracles. He builds on the Word of God, and he builds for God’s glory not his own.
Listen. Many people want spiritual power, look at Simon [Magus] in Acts 8. He wanted to buy the power of the Spirit of God. And Peter says, “Your money perish with you,” you phony. Many people want the power. They just aren’t interested in living according to God’s standards. They’re a sham; they’re building on sand. They want to know what Jesus can do for them. They want the goodies, chasing signs and wonders, not committed to Christ at all.
May we carefully consider the state of our souls and our personal faith in a humble, contrite way.
The three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.
Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.
The Authority of Jesus
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Jesus’s final Sermon on the Mount message, which I’ll go into tomorrow, was the instruction to build one’s house on a solid foundation of rock rather than an unstable one of sand (Matthew 7:24-27). It is an analogy of faith, obedience and salvation contrasted with one of hypocrisy and condemnation.
Afterward, Matthew’s Gospel tells us the ‘crowds were astonished at his teaching’ in this greatest of sermons (verse 28) and sensed His ‘authority’, very much unlike what emanated from what their scribes (verse 29).
These are positive and negative verses. In one sense, they are encouraging to read. On the other hand, they also point to rejection.
Matthew Henry’s commentary explains (emphases mine):
Now, 1. They were astonished at this doctrine it is to be feared that few of them were brought by it to follow him: but for the present, they were filled with wonder. Note, It is possible for people to admire good preaching, and yet to remain in ignorance and unbelief to be astonished, and yet not sanctified.
2. The reason was because he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. The scribes pretended to as much authority as any teachers whatsoever, and were supported by all the external advantages that could be obtained, but their preaching was mean, and flat, and jejune: they spake as those what were not themselves masters of what they preached: the word did not come from them with any life or force they delivered it as a school-boy says his lesson but Christ delivered his discourse, as a judge gives his charge. He did indeed, dominari in conscionibus–deliver his discourses with a tone of authority his lessons were law his word a word of command. Christ, upon the mountain, showed more true authority, than the scribes in Moses’s seat. Thus when Christ teaches by his Spirit in the soul, he teaches with authority. He says, Let there be light, and there is light.
John MacArthur preached on these verses in the 1970s:
What was the response this day? A great revival, tremendous conversions? No. Verse 28, “It came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were – ” converted. No? No they weren’t converted. They were “astonished; For he taught them as one having authority, not as the scribes.” All they did was analyze it.
They were astonished. We could use a lot of words for that. It means they were awed, they were amazed, the were dumbfounded, they were bewildered. But I looked it up in the Greek text, and it literally means they were struck out of themselves or they were struck out of their senses. In the vernacular, it blew their minds.
It blew them away that anybody could stand up there and say all of those things with such power, exousia, authority, such power, such dynamic and not do it like the scribes. And how did the scribes do it? They just quoted other people. They were fallible and they stacked up a lot of other fallible people as their source. Jesus just flat out said it, and it blew them away.
They had never heard such wisdom, they had never seen such depth, they had never understood such scope. Every dimension of human life was touched in an economy of words that was breathtaking. They had never heard such deep insight into the law of God or the sin of man. They had never heard such fearful warnings about hell, hellfire and judgment.
They had never heard anybody who so confronted the religious leaders of the time. They were utterly shocked that He didn’t use anybody else as an authority but seemed to stand upon His own authority. And that’s where it ends. They were shocked …
But that’s not the way it ought to end for you. You should be more than shocked, more than amazed. You should be converted. That’s what Jesus is after. They never heard anybody speak the truth like He did. They never heard anybody speak of divine matters with such clarity. They never heard anybody speak with such love. They never heard anybody speak with such absolute utter and total power and authority.
But they didn’t respond the right way. I mean, they couldn’t believe that a Man would say He was the fulfillment of the law, that a Man would say He was the determiner of righteousness, that a Man would say He was the corrector of the scribes and Pharisees. They couldn’t believe that a Man would claim to be the way of life, that a Man would claim to be God Jehovah, that a Man would claim to be judge of all, the one who could come and make judgment on everybody. They couldn’t believe that a Man like this could say He was the King. And all they got was astonishment.
The Sermon on the Mount is much more than the Beatitudes and the Golden Rule. It includes many difficult teachings which should reach all of us at our core. It should point to our examining our own spiritual state. It should encourage us to ask ourselves whether we are truly obedient to Christ’s teachings.
Do we accept some and not others? If so, can we call ourselves Christians? Do our lives reflect obedience or rejection?
Whilst much of the Sermon on the Mount is in the three-year Lectionary, some passages are not. I have written about these over the past few months. What follows is a recap with links. All can be found on my Essential Bible Verses page:
Matthew 5:25-26 – anger, sin, holding grudges, improper worship because of interpersonal conflict
Matthew 5:31-32 – adultery, divorce, marriage
Matthew 6:7-15 – Lord’s Prayer
Matthew 6:22-23 – the eye lamp of the body
Matthew 7:1-6 – judging others, pearls before swine
Matthew 7:7-11 – ask and you shall receive
Matthew 7:12-14 – Golden Rule, enter by the narrow gate, wide gate leads to destruction
Matthew 7:15-20 – prophets, sheep’s clothing, ravenous wolves, pastors, clergy, a tree and its fruit
May we study and meditate on these. If we haven’t already, may we experience true conversion and obedience.
Next time: Matthew 8:1-4
Along with Mantel, L’Antidote is another restaurant which remains very popular but has fizzled out for my better half and me.
L’Antidote is owned by chef Christophe Ferré who won an award for best chef in Provence in 2004. It’s on display in the restaurant, but only where women can see it — in the loo. Ferré, originally from Mougins, has worked mostly in the Provence-Côte d’Azur region, although he was also a chef in a restaurant near Limoges, le Moulin de la Gorce.
(Photo credit: My Home in Cannes)
Ferré runs the restaurant with his family: wife Karin, sister Catherine and son Alexis.
Although he chose a location away from the restaurant nucleus, he is well placed. Anyone staying at the Novotel Montfleury will find that, outside of the hotel’s commendable restaurant, L’Antidote is the only other eating establishment nearby.
It is located at 60 Boulevard d’Alsace, next to the busy and noisy voie rapide. Fortunately, L’Antidote is in a large 19th century house and has a wall with plenty of shrubbery and other plants concealing its pleasant courtyard area from the pavement and vehicles. Generally speaking, the location works.
As with Mantel, it’s not just one thing in the dining experience that put us off L’Antidote but a combination of things, particularly service related.
The woman maître d’ — not sure which family member — is always right and not above disputing with a customer. The wait staff do not make eye contact with the customers, unless they happen to be very special. We noticed a two-tier system in operation in 2013 and arguing in 2015.
Plan for a long meal, because there is a considerable waiting time between courses. The maître d’ may make this out to be your fault for reserving at the wrong time: ‘We’re so busy right now, I can’t possibly send another order in’. Well, that isn’t the customer’s fault. Ferré needs to co-ordinate with her and the others how many orders his kitchen can handle at any one time. Reservations need to be scheduled accordingly. This is not a new restaurant, by the way, so all of this should have been resolved years ago.
This August 2014 Trip Advisor review by a London contributor sums things up very well, including disappointing food. Excerpts follow:
(2) The wine – they served us the wine we requested but from a different vintage to what was stated on the menu. When we picked them up on it (nicely), they simply told us that year was no longer available and we could take or leave the newer vintage – no apology. So far, only minor issues.
(3) The service was so slow it was ridiculous. 45mins for the starter to arrive, and not even any bread to keep us going (despite asking). Then 1h30 in and the main courses arrived. 2hrs 10mins into our ordeal, the desserts finally arrived.
(4) The champagne sorbet we were given before the main course hadn’t been cleared up so we had to help the waitress when she finally brought the main courses – I’ve genuinely never had to help clear up my own dishes in a restaurant!
(4) The fillet steak was excellent but didn’t come with the sides stated on the menu, and the braised veal was awful – tough and fatty. And it came with the same vegetables as the fillet steak, and indeed the seabass that the people sitting next to us had. It seems every main course came with the same vegetables regardless of what the menu stated. The veal also came with what was possibly the worst attempt at mac & cheese ever: horribly soggy and overcooked pasta in a barely cheesy sauce – and not a mention of the mac & cheese on the menu.
(6) Even the bill was a challenge and we had to ask for it twice and wait a century …
SpouseMouse and I first went to L’Antidote in June 2013. The day before we had walked all around Cannes and had a delightful menu dégustation at Maître Renard in Le Suquet, more about which next week. Suffice it to say that we were in the mood for somewhat lighter fare the following evening.
We chose L’Antidote’s Menu Petit Gourmet, now €31 but €29 at the time. They served us an amuse bouche, details of which I do not remember other than that it was a good introduction to the meal. We started with pichade de Menton, bready regional pizzas topped with pistou (sauce made from garlic, fresh basil and olive oil). We were then served thyme and lemon sherbet as a palate cleanser. Our main course was a highly memorable breast of guinea fowl breaded with fine hazelnut crumbs. This was served with a superb foamy sauce of mushrooms (lots of porcini!) with a touch of cream and Marsala. The mashed potatoes dressed in olive oil were the best I’ve ever eaten: creamy and smooth without being runny. I have since tried to recreate this at home with varying degrees of success, but it still doesn’t taste quite as marvellous as Ferré’s creation!
For dessert, I opted for a cheese plate and SpouseMouse had their chocolate ‘biscuit’, which is actually an excellent chocolate fondant filled with a raspberry sauce served with raspberry sherbet. After 15 minutes, the maître d’ arrived with the fondant but left me with nothing. ‘Oh, yes, the cheese. It’ll be right out.’ It was straight from the refrigerator and too cold to appreciate properly. Had she placed both orders simultaneously, the cheese would have been perfect.
We had Château Verez, a Côte de Provence, which I noted as being ‘one of the best rosés ever!’
So far, a very enjoyable evening and a gastronomic delight. Then the time came for the bill. We asked. Then a table of four tourists were seated, and they must have been important because all attention turned to them. The maître d’ was engaged in animated conversation as was one of the waitresses. We needed to get up early the next day and it was already after 9:30. We’d been there over two hours. It was now as if we didn’t even exist. After prompting twice, it was necessary to walk up one of the wait staff by the hostess station and ask again! It still took another ten minutes for the bill to arrive!
By the time we left our customer delight had faded a bit. Service was clearly lacking. Granted, we didn’t order the most expensive menu items, but we ordered what we had a taste for. That’s no need for the wait staff to ignore us for a group willing to spend many more times than we did!
In June 2015, we went again, this time as part of a larger party. We were guests.
The size of the group and the time we arrived posed a problem for the maître d’ — the same woman as before.
We all ordered off the Menu des Gourmets (€39) or the Menu Antidote (€49). To the maître d’s credit, she did allow us to substitute an item from one of the other menus. However, she had a problem keeping the orders straight. One woman ordered one type of foie gras and was given another. When she said that she’d received the wrong one, the maître d’ could not admit to a mistake and nearly started arguing with her!
Really, what’s wrong with saying straightaway, ‘I’m so sorry — I misunderstood’? Go back and get the lady what she wants! In the end, that’s what happened, but not until after a 15- to 20-minute wait.
Our host quietly asked the maître d’ if things could be sped up a bit as we all had a long day ahead of us. She said, ‘If you hadn’t reserved for the time you did, then, yes. But now we’ve got orders piling up in the back. We’re very busy. You should have booked an earlier time.’
Our host also had to ask for more bread, which was understandable, given the long pauses between courses. The young lad who brought the bread out plonked it on the table by the host. No eye contact, no smile, no courtesy. How dare a table of 12 ask for more bread?
Surely, the maître d’ should have kept an eye on all the tables and instructed wait staff to ask if people needed anything while they were waiting for their next course. Restaurant 101 basics, in most customers’ minds!
Anyway, SpouseMouse and I had the same starters and main courses. We began with foie gras de canard (duck) which was pan seared with a touch of raspberry vinegar served with cherry compote. It was done to perfection and in just the right quantity — two pieces of the lobe, which is sufficient.
For our main course we had roasted fillet of bar — North Atlantic sea bass — with a shellfish sauce. It was very competently prepared.
SpouseMouse chose lemon tart made with Menton lemons. (Menton is further along the coast going towards Italy and is well known for its huge, flavoursome lemons.) I chose the cheese assortment, which was at a perfect temperature.
Over two and a half hours later, when, not surprisingly, people were starting to look at their watches, we’d finally finished. As was the case for us and the Trip Advisor reviewer, our host had a lengthy wait for the bill.
It is for service reasons that we will be unlikely to return to L’Antidote on our own steam.
Those who are staying at the Novotel Montfleury and small boutique hotels nearby should plan on a long wait when going to L’Antidote as well as a bit of lip from the maître d’. My commiserations.
In closing, the Menu Petit Gourmet has changed since we first had it two years ago. The Menton pizzas have been replaced by a salad. It is unclear whether the guinea fowl still comes with the heavenly sauce ours did, and the marvellous mash is gone, replaced by crushed potatoes.
I’m sure L’Antidote thinks it will always have a captive audience. Let’s hope it does, but service really does need to improve — dramatically.
For us, two restaurants in Cannes which fit this category are Mantel and L’Antidote, which I’ll write up in another post. Either the food or service — sometimes both — are responsible.
We are amazed that these places get such good reviews in the Guide Michelin and on Trip Advisor. Why?
(Photo credit: Trip Advisor, photographer GAET06, “devanture”)
N.B.: I am using ‘front of house’ below because I am not sure that the person referred to was the maître d’hôtel.
We have eaten at Mantel three times, twice in 2013 and once in 2015.
It takes its name from the chef and owner Noel Mantel, who has had a distinguished career, starting at the iconic Hotel Negresco in Nice, then for Alain Ducasse at the Louis XV in Monaco and Pinède in St Tropez. He later was appointed head chef at Restaurant les Muscadins in Mougins where he stayed for a decade. He opened Mantel in 2002.
It is located in Le Suquet at 22 rue Saint Antoine.
Reservations are recommended as the restaurant is very popular not only with tourists but with conferences — especially Cannes Lions — and Film Festival stars.
Our first visit in June 2013, admittedly, was marvellous. We ordered the €30 prix fixe menu. The signature amuse bouche of onion tart arrived quickly, cut into four. Nothing special but okay. SpouseMouse and I both started with the fried courgette flowers in tempura batter, which came with mesclun (local leaf) salad and fried basil. They were very good. We followed this with daurade Royale — local sea bass — which was competently prepared but no different to what other less prestigious establishments were serving.
The desserts, however, were to die for. The waitress came with two dreamy plates, both of which had one chocolate coated dome, a few chocolate chip and walnut biscuits and a wild strawberry tart! We drank Château Minuty (rosé) Cuvée Prestige, which is everywhere in Cannes. If I remember rightly, it was a price consideration. Service was efficient. Wine was presented and poured correctly for tasting, so that we could clearly see the label. I recall that detail, because the waitress was walking the young apprentice sommelier through what he had to do. In short, we could hardly wait to return.
Our second visit a few days later in 2013 was somewhat different. The Cannes Lions — ad men — conference was in full flow. We asked for the prix fixe menu and the front of house told us that they do not feature it during Cannes Lions because, as we understood from what he said, they wouldn’t appreciate it anyway. If the stream of young American ad people coming in wearing scruffy tee-shirts and denim cut-offs with flip flops was any indication, he was probably right.
The nondescript onion tart arrived. I ordered the courgette flowers again as a starter. SpouseMouse opted for the squid in persillade for the main course and chose local sea bream for the main. I ordered a combination plate of local sea bream with red mullet. We deemed both excellent. However, we declined dessert. I do not remember whether it was the price differential in ordering à la carte that caused us to arrive at that decision or if the assortment we had ordered the week before wasn’t available for Cannes Lions week. We drank another bottle of Château Minuty Cuvée Prestige. In all, it was a disappointment compared with our first visit. That said, we had Mantel on our list for 2015.
June 2015 saw our return to Mantel on what had been a cloudy, windy and cool day punctuated by showers. Cannes Lions hadn’t started yet, although their health sector conference had. The prix fixe menu was still on.
The same old onion tart arrived, cut in four. Really, it might be an idea for them to alternate between that and something else, depending on the day of the week. It’s not that good.
Both of us ordered the courgette flowers fried in tempura batter, but, whilst good, they were not as crispy as before. Perhaps the humidity played a role as we were eating outdoors. We followed that with two plates of squid ‘fondant’ which were quickly sautéed. I don’t remember what the fondant was but the dish was unremarkable. Everything needed salt — for me, anyway — and it was disappointing that I had to take the stopper out of the salt shaker only to find that it was filled with rice (counteracting humidity). Despite that, I managed to get a few grains of salt out for my main course. But — and it’s a big but — with all the wait staff about the place, not one approached the table and offered to refill the salt shaker!
SpouseMouse didn’t like the front of house’s attitude, which alternated between offhand and condescending throughout, unless he was talking to a preferred customer — personal acquaintance or big spender. We drank Château Minuty Cuvée Prestige once again. For dessert, SpouseMouse chose the fruit tart and I the crème brulée. Both were acceptable but on a par with what we could get in London. SpouseMouse’s homemade crème brulée is much denser and flavoursome. It is the standard by which I judge all others. We were sorry that the dessert assortment from 2013 was not on offer. Perhaps they have a different pastry chef now.
In any event, after we left, we agreed — regrettably — that Mantel has nothing more to offer us.
Overall, this rare average review of the restaurant dated July 2015 from a Trip Advisor contributor in Liverpool sums it up.
It seems that, based on Noel Mantel’s prestigious cooking experience, he could be more imaginative in the kitchen. Maybe he lacks the right staff. I see that they are taking applications this summer for a variety of positions, especially in the kitchen.
I wish him the very best but we won’t be returning.