“And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.’
And they reasoned among themselves saying, ‘It is because we have taken no bread.’
Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?’
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Bread has been a long time no-no in the low-carb diet world, and it appears here that the disciples thought Jesus was warning against bread, too. However, historically, leaven has been synonymous with sin, which is the context in which Jesus was using it.
I find it a little humorous when I read these verses. Jesus had just lambasted the religious leaders for being hypocrites, and then he and his disciples sailed over to the other shore where Jesus admonished them not to be like the Pharisees and Sadducees. However, not understanding the Lord’s lesson (this is the part that makes me chuckle J) , their thoughts centered on the provision of food, or lack of.
Can’t you see them? Jesus, in his concern for the spiritual lives of his friends and disciples, lovingly warns them not to allow sin to taint their beliefs, as the religious leaders were doing. And here may be where the problem originated…”they reasoned among themselves”. Well, that is always a danger, but maybe they were hungry and food was the only thing on their minds at the time?
However, we know that’s not what Jesus was talking about. The Lord was warning against leaven, or sin in their lives. He was cautioning his followers not to be like the religious leaders of that time, who knew the law, but didn’t recognize the Truth. He did not want them to allow sin, hypocrisy, complacency, and self-righteousness to hinder them and to influence what he had taught them.
Aren’t we like that, too? How much time do we spend considering the spiritual world? How often do we meditate on the temporal (our physical needs) instead of the eternal (our spiritual needs)? We Christians are always fussing over the food. Some would not even have a prayer time if they didn’t say “grace” before a meal. Then of course, all of our church programs revolve around food. We have a birthday dinner for the preacher, an outdoor BBQ to celebrate the founding of the church, an ice cream social on the 4th of July, VBS snacks, fall festivals, Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas cookie parties. Sometimes our priorities get so mixed up, like the disciples, we allow our physical needs to take priority over our spiritual needs, or like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we allow some leavening to infiltrate the truth we have learned in God’s word.
Jesus reminded his disciples that they had no need to think about what or when they were going to eat…ever, because he was more than able to provide. He cited the two occasions when he miraculously provided food for thousands of people out of a few loaves of bread—and had leftovers!
Heeding the warning taught by our Lord, we should think less on what is provided for our temporal existence and be careful not to allow leaven in our lives that hinder our spiritual walk.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?…for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…”