Matthew 16:5-12 – BEWARE OF THUMP-BACK WHALES AND STREET SHARKS!
It has small beady eyes, a huge gruesome head bearing shark-like teeth and body of a muscled figure with large fists. My grandson tells me that he is one of the good guys but I can’t see how. I know, it’s just a small toy in an armoury of monsters, but I have to laugh as it bites at my memory and reminds me of various people I have known; perhaps a genre of people; various political figures and dominant power-hungry people; puffed up with pride, biting away at anyone who threatened to relieve them of power, determined to win petty and worthless causes at all costs.
Matthew 16:5-7 (NLT) says “Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warns them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (and Herod)… At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread.”
When Jesus speaks of the “YEAST of the Pharisees and Sadducees” and of king Herod in Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15 He is warning us. Yeast causes bread to ferment, enlarging and lightening it with swelling air pockets of gaseous matter. The religious pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the dirty politics of Herod is expressed in hot air; no real substance, just a pervading influence like yeast. Gas bags! Poisonous, toxic gas bags! Religion and Politics; a hazardous mixture of hot air at the best of times, often polluting and blinding the minds of the people to the message of salvation found only in Christ. What use is Politics and religion if it falls short of God’s intentions for my life?
Shark-like they seek to encircle Jesus and bear their teeth with fists ready for a fight to maintain their dominance. Street Sharks and Thumpback Whales. Jesus spends little time with them and crosses the lake to those who are more willing to respond to His lifechanging presence.
His disciples don’t understand. They have tasted forbidden leaven. Orthodox Jews are careful not to buy bread made by Gentiles. It’s not clean if touched by a Gentile! The leaven (yeast) of the Gentiles infects everything around it. So His disciples are astonished that Jesus would say don’t buy bread from the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of the day! Surely the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees would be Kosher.
Then Jesus says something that makes me wonder. Matthew 16:9,10 (NLT) says “Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up?”
Notice Jesus mentions both miracles. They participated in the miracle of provision, yet they don’t get it. They left the Pharisees and Sadducees behind in the wake of feeding well over 9000 people. But it’s the leftovers that interest me. Why the leftovers? Was it because the Pharisees and Sadducees and others refused to eat their portion? Jesus provided but they refused? The miracle of the leftovers alone should have been sign enough for the Pharisees. Interesting thought. One thing is sure – their rejection was like yeast.
They refused the bread and fish. Jesus refuses them. They were wary of the bread of Life. Jesus says beware of their teaching. Be less concerned with bread and more concerned with leaven. Be less aware of what I lack and beware of taking on what I don’t need for my life; those deceptive cultural, religious, intellectual, philosophical, scientific and political attitudes to feed my ego but not my soul. Beware of what feeds my self-image but leaves me less Christlike and starving for spiritual truth. Beware of Street Sharks and Thumpback Whales!.. well, you know what I mean; the yeast of an empty life without Christ.
In John 6:31-41 (NLT) Jesus says, “…The TRUE BREAD of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” … Jesus says, “I am the BREAD OF LIFE. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty…. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent Me, not to do My own will… For it is My Father’s will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
PS This week our Church, Hillsong Church, is hosting the largest Christian conference in Australia. You can avoid the yeast of the worlds teaching and tune in to some awesome Christian teachers who love God’s Word. You can get the app for free on your iPhone or android. Key in “Hillsong” and follow the live podcasts.
- Being Spiritually Discerned (kevilynj.wordpress.com)
- Matthew 16:1-12 – GIVE ME A SIGN! (pastorross1.wordpress.com)
- Hypocrisy of Men (rachelheps.wordpress.com)
- “When We are Sifting Through the Leavens” by Tammy (servantsisters.org)
- Matthew 16:5-12 – BEWARE OF STREET SHARKS (pastorross1.wordpress.com)