Parallel Text: Matthew 16:5-12
Remember the last post in which we saw the encounter Jesus had with some Pharisees; they demanded a sign and Jesus refused to give them one, and went back to the boat. In this passage, they are out in the boat when Jesus who, apparently out of the blue, tells them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. (Matthew recalls it as “Pharisees and Sadducees”)
The disciples have no idea what He is talking about, and assume He is referring to the fact that they only had one loaf of bread. Jesus reminds them of the fact that He can make that one loaf into thousands if He wants to and seems incredulous at their lack of understanding. By now, you should see that there is a pattern here: Jesus has an entirely different point of view than everybody else. He isn’t concerned about the merely physical, about the things of this world. The disciples, on the other hand, see things the way everybody else sees them; physical, practical, earthly, here and now. They don’t understand where Jesus is coming from most of the time, and frankly who can blame them?
Don’t most Christians think the same way the disciples were thinking?
“Of course Jesus is at the center of my life, yes I am following Him wherever He leads, absolutely I would do anything to help build His Kingdom… but right now I’m too busy.” “Well, I don’t think He means I should have to do that!”
No, they didn’t understand what He was talking about.
Matthew tells us that Jesus was referring to the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees in 16:12.
The disciples might have stopped to think about what yeast represents in Scripture: SIN!
But Mark mentions Herod, was Herod a teacher? In a way he was, just like President Obama is in a sense a teacher. He was their political leader, and held great influence with many people, as does President Obama (or whoever might hold office). We have already seen how the Pharisees and Herod viewed Jesus as a threat to their positions, and the Sadducees would be right there with them… this guy needs to go away!
Think about the conversation Jesus has just had: After feeding the 4,000 by a miracle, the Pharisees wanted a sign. That demand was itself a sign, for it announced in a clear and unambiguous way that they were going to oppose Jesus and the Kingdom everywhere they encountered it. They would use their influence, along with that of Herod (strange bedfellows indeed) to stop Jesus at all costs. Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod!
It’s time to get a clue boys!