Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Acts 15:10, “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”
There is so much material in the Gospels (and really, in the whole Bible) about the false religion of the Jewish religious leaders and rulers, that we must conclude that the Lord is giving us a sober warning about its danger. Jesus specifically warned His disciples, and therefore He warns us –
Matthew 16:6, “Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees….. 6:12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
What is this leaven? What did the Pharisees and Sadducees teach and practice? Whatever it was, and is, it’s ability to quickly spread throughout the entire church is inherent in it. It is a highly infectious spiritual disease. How possible is it that we ourselves as conservative, Bible-believing Christians have been “leavened”? Watch! Beware! Those are pretty strong words of warning. If you hear someone say aloud – “Watch out! Beware!” – you would be snapped to full attention immediately, right? This leaven, whatever it is, is something our Lord considered to be extremely dangerous.
And it is something that we don’t easily see. Perhaps herein lies much of its danger. Jesus gave this warning to the disciples and they, like us, were characteristically rather, well, stupid? –
Matthew 16:11, “How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
This, then, is our first introduction to the religion of the Pharisees. Watch out! Beware! This stuff is as contagious of a plague as you will find. It has the ability to spread throughout Christ’s people like yeast in dough. And to make things worse, we tend to be blind to it, until one day we wake up and find that it has locked a heavy yoke on our necks. Paul’s words to the Galatian believers is an admonishment to us today –
Galatians 3:1-3, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Next time we will look at Matthew 3. In the very opening of Jesus’ earthly ministry, John the Baptist comes face to face with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Where the true religion of Christ appears, you can bet that this “brood of vipers” will not be far behind.
One of our friends made this observation:
Leaven and tradition have a lot of similarities. I think in Biblical times, the leaven was used over and over again, something like a sourdough batter is used today, where part of the fermented dough was set aside to use in the next batch of dough, refreshed with a bit of new dough, and used pretty well indefinitely, on loaf after loaf of bread. The leaven would change now and then, but results were similar.
Tradition is something like this…the unscriptural traditions of the Pharisees have grown like leaven through the centuries, and new generations have experienced changes here and there…some traditions taken away, others added. But the basic beliefs remain, and people adhere to and support them. They like the bread.
Good illustration of bread from the friend and the Lord! I think we have to be made aware because it’s sneaky and covert how it spreads. I don’t read constant warnings about falling off a cliff, eating outdated food or other obvious dangers. Those who spread the leaven, we are told, have blinded, lie about what they do know and deceive themseleves, so even the semi aware ones wouldn’t care to warn because they revel in it. I have found, that most of the oppression and abuse comes from those who are guilty themselves, not because we all weren’t guilty, but because they still are, unforgiven and don’t want forgiveness nor anyone else to be. Misery loves company. It reminds me of the passage about getting your house in order (and the ones about having the strong man replaced with Christ) before being qualified to help others. Thanks for sharing your and His wisdom yet again!
Have a super day guys!:)
If they defended anyone, it would shine the light on them too…can’t have that.
I think the “leaven” is the false Gospel that teaches works for, or in order to keep our salvation. It puts people in a mode of working and earning instead of receiving and then resting in. God says they never enter His rest. Repentance, faith and salvation are gifts and we must receive them as such. The religion of the Pharisees today is the same as it was then and it amazes me how few actually know and understand the true Gospel. Running constantly to church activities or studies or books etc., trying to make ourselves better or more obedient etc., when Jesus said He had done it all on our behalf. This is what burns people out. I have found that after escaping the Legalists of today, that I have a propensity to pick up the pace in life, through prayer, reading, doing and have to quiet myself back into the rest I know is mine. Jesus has done it all. We must receive that truth or we will never experience the true benefits of the Gospel and what it means to be in Christ and abide there.
Thank you! Exactly.