10.01.27 Mk. 8:14-15; Mt. 16:7; Mk. 8:17-21a; Mt 16:11-12
PHARISEES AND YEAST IN BREAD
Mk. 14 They had forgotten to take bread and had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 Then He commanded them: “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”
Mt. 7 And they discussed among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread.”
Mk. 17 Aware of this, He said to them, “Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Don’t you understand or comprehend? Is your heart hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?”
“Twelve,” they told Him.
20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the 4,000, how many large baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?”
“Seven,” they said.
21a And He said to them…
Mt. 11 Why is it you don’t understand that when I told you, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ it wasn’t about bread?” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
It is difficult to comprehend the popularity Jesus had from the crowds, while at the same time He was concerned about three frontal attacks. Those three challenges were the false teachings, or “leaven,” that were told to the people about Him. They were:
- The Pharisees said that Jesus was demon-possessed.
- The Sadducees said Jesus was against the temple worship system, which they controlled.
- The Herodians claimed that Jesus was against the House of Herod, meaning that He was against the governmental authorities.
There could not have been enough books to record His miracles and words, while the rumors and false accusations must have been exponential in numbers.
“We didn’t bring any bread.” Bread was very common in the Galilee area. Both Greeks and Jews had plenty of it, which could be easily purchased anywhere. Jesus and His disciples were in the Greek communities where they could not purchase kosher bread. It may be difficult for modern Christians to accept the fact that Jesus was a Jew who followed the Jewish dietary laws.
“Don’t you understand or comprehend?” There were five points the disciples had not yet learned:
- Jesus would provide for them
- They failed to recognize that the miracle of feeding the 5,000 Jewish men and their families demonstrated that Jesus was the Bread of Life to the twelve tribes of Israel.
- They also failed to recognize that Jesus was the Bread of Life to the Gentiles as represented by the seven Gentile tribes that had established the Decapolis centuries earlier.
- They saw the growing popularity of Jesus but failed to see the growing tide against Him. Things were not as they seemed to be in the eyes of the disciples.
- Throughout His ministry the disciples did not comprehend that He was both God and man. They wanted to follow Him but they could not understand why He would have to suffer and die. When Jesus spoke of His kingdom, they always thought of a resurrected Davidic Empire, not the spiritual kingdom. Miracles, teachings, and preaching were all essentially the workings of God upon the disciples from the outside, even though the Spirit worked upon their hearts.
Is your heart hardened? The hardening of the heart begins with one’s own desires, until the day comes when our Lord gives one what he wants – a life without God. The Greek word is peporomene that describes a callused hardness and blind insensitiveness that refuses to learn a lesson. No matter how much Jesus tried, He simply could not make an impression on these people. Hence the rhetorical question, is your heart hardened?
. Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 100-102.