Matthew 16:6 “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus demanding a sign from heaven; “feigning a desire to see evidence that he was the Messiah, but with a real desire to see him make the attempt to work a miracle and fail, so that they might betray him and ruin him.” (Barnes’ Notes) Times haven’t changed. Theologians both liberal and conservative attempt to fit Jesus in the box of the world’s approval much to the denigration of the true Gospel. People who can’t be bothered to read the Bible or just don’t care are all too eager to accept their deceptive teachings.
The Pharisees condemnation and judging characterize some in the religious right who damn people to hell quite forgetting that they are not qualified to judge anyone. The Sadducees with their worldly skepticism and head knowledge are like the religious left of today when they deny Biblical Truth and explain away the very things that Jesus tells us. Both groups are separate sides of the same coin – the self-righteous coin of this world’s religions.
When Jesus and His disciples left the area around the Sea of Galilee, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread. At that point Jesus reminded them about the miracles they had witnessed and warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. At first Jesus’ disciples missed his point; “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.” (v. 7) Caught up in the worries and anxieties of life the disciples failed to remember the miracles that they had experienced walking with Jesus.
Jesus had to straighten them out; “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.” (v. 11,12) The cares and anxieties of the world can be a distraction predisposing us to miss the true message of the Gospel and be taken in by false doctrine; especially if we are worried about how people perceive us!
Jesus was very concerned about false doctrine, so much so that he warned his own disciples about it. Brian Schwertley writing on this very issue points out; “If the shepherds became corrupted, so would their followers. Therefore, we can understand Jesus’very strong concern with purity of doctrine.” Schwertley shows that the Pharisees read into the Scriptures adding all kinds of man made rules and rituals that took away from God’s message; “They ‘fenced’ the law with all sorts of silly man-made rules and regulations so that sanctification consisted in ritual observances instead of learning and obeying the law itself.” (Ibid)
The Sadducees according to Schwertley took away from the Scriptures; “While the Pharisees added to God’s word, the Sadducees detracted from it. They were the modernists of their day. . . . The Sadducees attempted to sway people to their own position by using clever arguments that made a mockery of the Scriptures.” (Ibid) Times haven’t changed.
Sadly, we can all fall into a Pharisaical mode of judgement and condemnation. This is epitomized by Mark Driscoll’s infamous sermon to the Mars Hill congregation;”‘ ‘Some of you, God hates you,’ he said. ‘Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny.’ ” This is just not true. The Bible tells us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) And; “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And most telling; “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (Luke 23:34) Judgement and condemnation is a kind of yeast that destroys our witness from the inside out.
Even worse, in my Pharisaical inclined mind is the modern day Sadducee approach where mockery is made of the Scriptures and clever arguments are used to take away from the Bible. Bishop Spong epitomizes this kind of false witness; “At its very core the story of Easter has nothing to do with angelic announcements or empty tombs.” This is type of yeast destroys the faith of many by corrupting from the outside in. Taking root and causing doubt about God’s Holy Bible.
Modern day Pharisees and Sadducees abound and they all seem to dress in a similar way preferring the vestments of religion as they accuse each other of being blind. We must be wary of their yeast. How? Read the Bible. Study His Word. Live out the Bible’s truth and promises every day. The Bible warns us; “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1) Stick with Jesus. Start with Him. Walk with Him. End with Him.
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
Praise the Lord!