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Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Yeast of the Pharisees

Matthew 16:5-12

“5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

You can understand why the Disciples had bread on their minds after the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  When Jesus mentioned the word yeast, they automatically assumed it had something to do with the fact that they had come across the lake with no bread.

But Jesus said to them, in effect, “Listen, didn’t you just see 5,000 people fed with little or no bread.  Don’t worry about bread.  I was talking about the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees”.  According to Jesus, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were misguided in their teachings about the law and they did not live what they taught.

Jesus was warning the Disciples about the possibility of being corrupted by the world; of being more concerned with rules, rituals and regulations than with the true worship of God.

This warning has as much meaning today as it did when Christ spoke it.  Think of all the things that get in the way of our spiritual lives.  Little by little they gain a foothold and soon they occupy all of our time and all of our attention.

These things are the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.


May the love of Christ be with you,

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)


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