The Yeast Of The Pharisees
“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Matt. 16:6 [TNIV]
It is an amazing phenomenon how little yeast it takes to have such a significant effect on a large amount of other substances. As a child I remember watching with wide-eyed wonder as my Mom would make rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners. The dough would be set aside for a while to rise and when the cloth was removed from the top of the bowl what had been just a small lump of dough in the bottom of the bowl had become a huge voluminous mass encompassing the entire capacity of the container. I was amazed and intrigued by the transformation. But then, with just one whack in the top of the dough, it would deflate to only half its size. She would then roll it out, cut it into whatever roll shapes she was making and then set it aside to rise again before putting it in the oven to bake. The smell of freshly baking bread would fill the house and I knew all was right with the world.
Yeast in bread makes it taste good and gives it added lightness and texture. But the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus warns us about leads only to confusion and a false sense of reality. It inflates reason and appears strong but cannot hold up under the pressure of truth. In bread, its fermentation properties makes the bread tastier. In life, yeast (a metaphor for sin) defiles and eventually destroys its host. Bitterness, anger, self-serving, deceit, unforgiveness, malice, envy, slander, gossip, greed, impurity, and all such things are the yeast of life that we must be on our guard against. Not allowing even a little to penetrate the character of our lives. “A little yeast works through the whole batch.” (1 Corinthians 5:6)
“Father, God of all truth and goodness, thank You for the gift of understanding to know wisdom and to follow after it. Thank You for giving us instruction in righteousness so that we will know how to live in accordance with Your will and to have and enjoy life in its fullest. Keep us from presumption based on human reasoning alone. And protect us from reliance on the wisdom of the world as a substitute or even an equal alternative with Your expressed laws of life. It’s easy to be impressed by yeast (sin) inflated ideas of how we ought to live or promises of future good if we only compromise our principles a little here and a little there. Forgive us, Lord, for even entertaining such thoughts. Help us to be people of integrity. Deliver us from evil and cause us to be all that You want us to be as Your people, the people of God called by Your name, called out of darkness into Your marvelous light. Thank You for Your immeasurable gift of grace toward us. In the Holy and Blessed Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray. Amen”
Genesis 48:1—49:33; Matthew 15:29—16:12; Psalm 20:1—9; Proverbs 4:20—27