February 26, 2024

Matthew 16:1-12 (HCSB)
The Yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and as a test, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away. 5 The disciples reached the other shore, and they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus told them, “Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they discussed among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? 9 Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected? 10 Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected? 11 Why is it you don’t understand that when I told you, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ it wasn’t about bread?” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Neil Andrews

In this section of Matthew, we are witnesses to a profound exchange between Jesus, the Pharisees and Sadducees that emphasizes the demand for discernment in understanding spiritual signs. This passage serves as a critical juncture in Matthew’s gospel, highlighting themes of skepticism, the Messiah’s identity, and the nuanced use of metaphorical language. The Pharisees and Sadducees, representatives of religious authority, seek a sign from Jesus, revealing their failure to recognize the evident signs preceding them.
Jesus employs the metaphor of discerning the weather while neglecting the signs of the times, challenging the religious leaders to comprehend the spiritual climate. This passage also unveils the reference to “leaven” as a metaphor for false teaching, requiring an understanding of the historical and cultural context. This passage prompts scholars to explore the layers of meaning beneath Jesus’ words, emphasizing the importance of perceptive insight into both the physical and spiritual realms.

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