The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” Mark 8:14-15
Herod was associated with the Saducees, so Jesus was actually talking about them here, not the ruler himself.
But what is the “yeast” of these religious groups? Yeast multiplies things. It spreads. It is easy to think that the yeast was false doctrine that was spreading among the Jews. There were so many schools of thought among the Pharisees and Sadducees. A new teacher would come in and draw people after him with his way of teaching.
It reminds me of today! So many different beliefs. And there’s always the latest thing, that everyone becomes enamored with. There’s the new Calvinism that’s so popular. I keep hearing about Acts 29 churches. We have a fast growing megachurch in town that EVERYONE goes to. There’s the latest book that everyone is reading.
So maybe this is the yeast Jesus is talking about. We need to watch that we don’t get caught up in the popular trend. We need to SEEK and STAND for the truths of the Bible.
But I think the “yeast” was the example of their lives. The pharisees were hypocrites. They were all about looking good. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;” Matt 23:5
“I’m not caught up in appearances,” I tell myself. “I don’t do something to draw attention to how spiritual I am.” But then I think about how I DON’T do something, because I’m worried about how it will look. I worry that I will look foolish, that people will think I’m weird, that I won’t do it well. Ah. I AM caught up in appearances!
It’s performance anxiety. Everything becomes about me. I audit my every action. And isn’t that hypocrisy too, that I am trying to look right, instead of focusing on getting my heart right?
It’s hard to be authentic. I’m afraid to be myself. Afraid to be weak.
I came across an awesome quote by Teddy Roosevelt this week —
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Dare greatly. We can’t shrink back in anxiety over how it will look. We have to step out into the arena and trust that God will work through our weaknesses.
Then HE will be glorified, not us. “But the one who seeks the praise of him who sent him is genuine, and there’s nothing false in him.” John 7:18
Here is the disciple’s reaction to what Jesus said about the yeast of the Pharisees
They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
Do we not understand? We don’t need to worry about the physical world. We don’t need to worry about appearances. We don’t to worry if our needs will be met.
Do we not understand where the good yeast is, the REAL power?
God is Jehovah Jireh, the Provider. He can meet our needs, just as he gave bread to the crowds. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s about yeast that can work in hearts for the good, that can change a person wretched in slavery to sin to a person who leaps with joy over his forgiveness and transformation. It’s about yeast that can multiply disciples all over the world. It’s about yeast that continues to work in our hearts and lives, bringing about immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Do we not understand? The scary thing is that we could be like the Pharisees. We could think we’ve given our lives to God, and then at the Last Day realize we’d gotten it wrong.
We need to seek to REALLY KNOW God, and what is the good yeast. That’s it’s about doing things out of love for God, not self. That it’s about doing things out of faith, and not shrinking back in fear.
Will we do it perfectly? No. But good will prevail.
Someone recently posted on Facebook a criticism of our method of having a set of studies that help others be saved. I love Roger Lamb’s reply —
“We don’t even know how many hundreds of thousands of people around the world are incredibly grateful that someone loved them enough to share their faith with them on the street, at the store, in the neighborhood, at the office, at school, etc. If we focus on making one method more righteous than another, are we not missing the point? In our movement, God blessed incredible passion and faith among some very young people. We made tons of mistakes along the way. We repented deeply and repeatedly. God put us back together and is leading us deeper and wider. Our understanding of what it means to love God and love one another is deeper and more mature than ever. God has now planted 650 churches around the world, about 20 more every year. Can we not celebrate that while admitting we don’t know today what we will learn tomorrow. No individual grows from getting hung up on his or her past. We must each bring it to the cross and find redemption and mission. Is not being transformed into the image of Christ a continual work in progress? What if the early church got hung up on the incredible range of mistakes revealed in the Scriptures? If we are hung up on kingdom lingo, how will the world come to know Jesus? If our passion is to know Jesus and make Him known, will we not adjust our lingo and correct our mistakes as we learn what is helpful and what is hurtful? Those tens of thousands of people probably don’t worry about it when they thank God for their salvation, marriages, children who know God, found freedom from addictions, slavery to sin and despair. Let’s learn our lessons and get our attention back to loving people enough to point them to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life.”
We’re never going to apply the Bible perfectly. We’ll try it one way, something about that won’t work, and we’ll revise our methods. But we need to just KEEP focusing on loving people enough to point them to Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
It is SO easy to believe the WRONG things are important, even as we think we are being righteous. We get indignant and “strain the gnats” of disputable matters. We get hung up on looking good, fitting in.
Watch out for the bad yeast. If it was hard for the disciples to see, we can miss it as well.
Maybe the best place to start is humility — realizing that God is the only source, the good yeast, the POWER of multiplication, the thing we so desperately need in our lives.