Sunday, July 10, 2011

Matthew 16:5-12


5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 And Jesus said to them, ``Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'' 7 They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, ``He said that because we did not bring any bread.'' 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, ``You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? 9 ``Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? 10 ``Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? 11 ``How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'' 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Wow! This story almost hits too close to home! Jesus is speaking about spiritual things while the disciples are thinking about the physical. Jesus was dealing with something that mattered-very important. The disciples were thinking in terms of something that didn't matter and not very important in the scheme of things. In the presence of Jesus bread was simply not a problem. He had proven this in a dramatic way a couple of times earlier.

How many times do we find ourselves worried about or fussing over things that just don't matter while something very serious is going on?

Leaven has a second meaning which is metaphorical and not literal and physical. It was the Jewish metaphorical expression for an evil influence. To the Jewish mind leaven was always symbolic of evil. It is fermented dough; the Jew identified fermentation with putrefaction; leaven stood for all that was rotten and bad. Leaven has the power to permeate any mass of dough into which it is inserted. Therefore leaven stood for an evil influence liable to spread through life and to corrupt it.

Jesus was probably referring to the leaven in these ways: 1-With the Pharisees. Their leaven that is bad and dangerous was their negativity, filled with "thou shalt nots" and their emphasis upon the external actions over that of a person's heart.

2-With the Sadducees. Their leaven was their emphasis upon their wealth-their material perspective of life. They were wealthy and political and therefore cared a lot about positions and prosperity.

The true blessings are the blessings of the heart; and the true change is not the change of outward circumstances but the change of the hearts of men. The warning here is to not get caught up in externals, positions and prosperity, but be people of the heart, bent toward God Himself. That's the way of Jesus!