Saturday, July 31, 2021

Leaven Of The Pharisees

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Jesus has spoken of leaven several times in the scriptures. In the Old Testament it was forbidden to be used in food preparation during the High Holy Days of Passover. In fact their houses had to be purged of it! While allowing dough to rise for baking, it also introduced a spoiling within the bread.

This is the subtlety of leaven, a slow process of rotting and spoiling. Jesus declared Himself to be “the Bread of Life”  in John 6:35 & 48: “...he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."  It is in Him that we find no sin, and nothing in Him to corrupt and introduce any rottenness in us. Jesus is Holy, and He is Pure.

The issue is that leaven is pervasive. Once leavened, a substance cannot be unleavened. It is therefore a “type” of sin and corruption. But in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, spreading through the whole lump of dough. In this case, it is a good thing, if we consider ourselves to be that lump of dough.

Jesus, let me be that lump of dough, let me be heavenly minded, let THAT leaven take over all of me, and all of every Believer! May we all be taken over by thoughts of being in heaven with You, Lord. Come, and make us wholly holy for You! This is the leaven of heaven that we should want in our lives and hearts; to be totally His so that no power on Earth can take us away and corrupt us!

We may still be “lumps” and maybe even lumpy, but to be His is all we need and all we should want. To be leavened for the Kingdom of Heaven, unveils a sense of security in our salvation. If our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then it is up to Jesus to get us to where we are truly His and can be ushered into God’s Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the all-powerful God that we serve. (And by the way, the lump doesn’t fight against the baker.)
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” ~ Philippians 1:6
Jesus starts the work in us; Jesus performs the work in us; Jesus finishes the work in us. Let Him work in you!

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 16:1-20 - "Leaven Of The Pharisees"


When teaching His disciples, Jesus often used everyday objects to demonstrate spiritual truths.

In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus is warning His disciples to “take heed (or watch carefully), and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”  The word leaven (or yeast) here takes on symbolic connotations.  What does leaven do?  Leaven is a pervasive influence that modifies something.  Literally speaking, leaven is used in baking bread causing the bread to rise over time.  Scripture tells us that “a little leaven, leavens the whole lump,” that is the very nature of leaven. You simply cannot hide it in the mix, because it ultimately affects everything.

So can we just acknowledge that so far there has been a lot of scriptures involving bread in the Gospel of Matthew, and here we find that once again the disciples are unprepared and have forgotten it.  After His encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus warns His disciples of the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Whether they weren't paying attention to what was going on just prior to this, or they were troubled by the fact that they had forgotten the loaves of bread, the disciples are just not understanding Him. He is not speaking about food for the body, as His disciples imagined, He is speaking symbolically as to the spiritual nature of of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Spiritually speaking, leaven can be a good thing, a symbol of the kingdom of heaven. Leaven can also be a bad or evil thing, as is the case here in verse 6.

As Jesus warns His disciples of the “leaven of the Pharisees,” He is specifically speaking about their religious hypocrisy. Their teachings were a pervasive influence over the people and produced hypocrisy and unbelief.  Like yeast in a loaf of bread, their teachings corrupted all those who heeded them.  These religious leaders displayed an outward conformity to the law, but their hearts were full of unbelief and sinfulness.  

Here in Matthew 16, the Pharisees had tested Jesus once again, asking Him to show them a sign from heaven.  At this point in Jesus ministry, He had literally performed thousands of miracles.  Have they not heard the testimony of the witnesses?  Have they not seen the miracles with their own eyes?  Have they not heard Jesus speak and teach?  Why would they need to see more signs from the heavens?  Surely they could test what they were seeing and hearing against the Word of God.

As spiritual leaders they should have known the scriptures and the very signs of the coming Messiah.  The Old Testament prophets spoke about the blind who would see, and the lame who would walk.  Not only should they have known the scriptures, they should have believed the scriptures and should have been looking for those signs that would reveal Jesus as their Messiah.  Yet here they are once again testing Jesus, seeking more signs not because they wanted to know the truth, but rather because they wanted to get rid of Him, to publicly denounce Him and declare Him as false.  They are hypocrites.  They put on a show for the people to make themselves look holy and righteous, yet they deny the truth of God’s Word, and their Savior.  

Here Jesus teaches His disciples to be aware, spiritually focused, to be wary of false teachers who are hypocrites denying the truth.  

The only way to keep ourselves from the deception of false teachers is to spend time sitting at the Lord’s feet in prayer, and opening our bibles allowing His Spirit to teach us, and fill us with the WORD OF TRUTH!

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