Can what is old and broken be made new? A friend recently restored an old car. The Holy Spirit can restore our faith.
“How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:11
After the miracle of feeding the four thousand, Jesus and His disciple had just crossed the Sea of Galilee landing in Magadan. A group of Pharisees and Sadducees found Jesus there asking Him for a sign from heaven. Jesus told them that they knew how to interpret signs of threatening weather, but “cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Mat.16:3). Jesus continued saying they were an evil and adulterous generation seeking a sign, however, the only sign they would be given would be the sign of Jonah.
Jesus and the disciples then got back in their boat and left. Upon reaching shore Jesus told them to “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (v. 6). The disciples failed to connect the dots and talked among themselves that Jesus was somehow talking about actual bread.
Jesus aware of their thoughts, interrupted them saying, “O you of little faith” (v. 8). He continued asking them why they could not understand reminding them about the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000 – and how much they collected that was left over. In other words, Jesus wanted them to understand that if they needed actual bread, He could more than supply what was needed with only a crumb.
And so Jesus repeats His warning, “How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew tells us that then they understood Jesus was talking about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Like leaven (or yeast) in a lump of dough, false teaching expands and grows. The multiplying effect of impure doctrine cannot be ignored in the nearly 2,000 years since Jesus first gave this warning to His disciples. Can we likewise perceive that we too need to be watchful and beware false teaching?
Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, urged first century believers “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jd. 1:3). In less than 50 years the yeast of false teaching had already prevented the true gospel. My prayer and the growing cry of my heart is that the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth – will give us wisdom to discern false leaven and restore to us once again the pure faith given to us by Jesus Himself.
I want to know Jesus and the truth of His Word in the same way Peter, James, John, Paul and other first century believers knew the purity of faith in Christ.
Yes to Yield
LORD Jesus, I confess that many of us within the Church today have believed lies, the leaven of false teaching passed down through the generations preceding us. We have accepted as true what has been corrupted by teachers like the Pharisees and Sadducees demanding signs. Holy Spirit give us wisdom to discern the truth cutting out those things we believe yet are false. May we hear Your call to repent turning back to the true gospel that You might in our generation restore all things as You have promised.
(See Peter’s admonition to Jews he called brothers to turn to Jesus received into heaven until the restoration of all things – Acts 3:19-21.)
Picture – On the Sea of Galilee looking toward the eastern shoreline. By D.G. Ebie, April 2015.