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Do You Understand?

As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

Mark 8:15


Today we are going to jump right into the middle of an event that happened between Jesus and his disciples. This event happens just after Jesus fed 4000 men, and who knows how many women and children, with only 7 loaves of bread! Jesus has just performed this crazy miracle for the second time in front of the disciples and many others. After this the Pharisees (read religious leaders of the day), come to Jesus and ask Him for another sign to prove He is the Messiah. The Pharisees, who are supposed to know the scriptures by heart, should have been the first to recognize who Jesus was and what He came to do. Jesus refuses to give them a sign and gets in a boat with His disciples to sail to another place to do ministry. This is what happens next in Mark 8:14-21:

But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”

“Twelve,” they said.

“And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

“Seven,” they said.

“Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.

I can almost hear the frustration in Jesus’s voice when He asks, “Don’t you understand yet?”. Jesus has just fed all of these people, and the disciples think that Jesus’s warning about the Pharisees means that He is mad at them for forgetting to bring more bread! Do we understand why Jesus gives this warning? What does it mean to “beware the yeast of the Pharisees”? Yeast, in the Bible, is often a metaphor for sin. Yeast is a living organism that, when added to dough, permeates the whole batch. It takes just a few tablespoons of yeast to make a big batch of bread dough, and once added, it cannot be removed. Jesus is warning the disciples that the Pharisees’s sin of religious pride is infectious. So why don’t they understand. It’s all in the yeast. Just as the Pharisees could not see who Jesus was, and what He was there to do, so the disciples were also blinded to this truth. In their minds, Jesus, as their religious leader, should be like the Pharisees. While Jesus said that He came to serve, not to be served, the Pharisees were the opposite. They expected to be served by the community, rather than serve the community themselves. They used their religious power to oppress, but Jesus came to set us free! Still today, we need to beware the yeast of religious leaders who cloud our vision of who Jesus is and what He came here to do. Have you ever been hurt by a church? Has the image of a religious leader ever clouded your vision of who Jesus is? It’s time to take another look.


My Prayer For You

Father, I pray that you would remove from us any sin or clouded vision that keeps us from seeing who Jesus really is. Reveal to us the truth, and give us open eyes and ears to receive it.


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