Pharisees, Sadducees and… yeast?

Matthew 16:5-12

After the scene in which the Pharisees and Sadducees set aside their contempt for one another to attempt to trick Jesus into offering a sign, Jesus and His disciples once again head off across the lake. This time, the disciples forgot to bring the bread along; they have nothing to eat. Randomly it would appear, Jesus told them to “be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The disciples, thought this remark was a reference to their having forgotten the bread, but Jesus seldom concerned Himself with such details. Reminding them of the manner in which He fed the five thousand and the four thousand, He wonders why they are thinking about bread; He was warning them against the teachings of the religious leaders. In a sense, He was summing up in one line the lesson He has been trying to teach them since chapter 14. By the end of this brief passage, they get it: Beware the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

I have an editorial decision to make at this juncture: Should I remember that I’m a theology professor and launch into a discussion of the theological and apocalyptic significance of yeast in Scripture… or just keep it simple and real?

Let’s just keep it real; Jesus knew that like all good Jews of that time, His disciples feared their religious leaders and consequently there was a very real danger that they would be swayed by their teachings, or at least intimidated by their teachings. In a sense, these leaders were much like our “politically correct” leaders of the present day who insist that everyone either agree with them on every issue at all times in public and private, or at least that we never voice a disagreement. To do so is to incur wrath, persecution and ridicule.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Knowing that He would be handing the baton off to the disciples soon, Jesus set about to teach them, 1) to have no fear of the religious leaders, and 2) to reject entirely the things they taught, for 3) the disciples would soon become the real teachers about the things of God.

By the end of this passage, they comprehended what He was talking about, but did they comprehend the mission yet?

We are about to find that out…

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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.
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4 Responses to Pharisees, Sadducees and… yeast?

  1. Steve B says:

    It is not only fear of religious teachers (or academics for that matter) but the fear of them using big and complicated words to bamboozle the unwashed masses so you can’t answer back. Jesus being the Son of God knows everything. He knew the answers to their questions before they even knew what questions they were going to ask Him. But what about us. There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with someone who is smug and supposedly authoritative and they make us ordinary folks look stupid. To give an example. I don’t like Calvinism because it is not God. Calvinists believe that they are especially chosen by God to be saved. I countered a Pastor by asking him this question, “So logically those not chosen to be saved are then chosen by God to be sent to Hell?” His answer was, “Well we don’t know God’s intentions.” How do you answer that non answer?

    • Don Merritt says:

      Do you really want me to answer that one Steve?

      Of course I agree with your point, but if a pastor asked me that question to evade giving a direct answer I would reply, “Well actually pastor, as you well know Jesus told us exactly what god’s intentions were when He taught us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

      Naturally, he’d try to spin his way out it… 🙂

  2. Steve B says:

    Unfortunately Don I am one of those guys who think of an answer 48 hours after the conversation. 🙂 PS I could never be a lawyer. LOL

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