Pharisees, Politicians and Yeast

Mark 8:14-21

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!


About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Bible and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pharisees, Politicians and Yeast

  1. I love this- it’s cleverly written:) God bless

  2. I sometimes think about what the poor aposles went through trying to figure out what Jesus meant by whatever he just said. “He said he is hungry. Does he mean hungry or something else?” “He said he wants to go to the next town. Does he mean the next town or something else?” No wonder they were confused when he said he was going to die; well he said it several times. “He said he is going to die. Does he mean dying or something else?”

  3. dwmartens says:

    There is another point that might have been a sign to those asking for one, had they chosen to be sincerely looking for signs, that is not mentioned in the text, probably because it is beyond the main point, yet is interesting to me. It was pointed out in a recorded seminar that I heard. The feeding of the 5000 was in what the Jews of that day called the “Land of the Twelve” (God fearing Jews near Capernaum), where they picked up 12 baskets full of leftovers. The feeding of the 4000 was in what they called the “Land of the Seven” (wicked nations across the lake), where they picked up 7 baskets full of leftovers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s