Through the Bible in One Year

Day 24

Matthew 16:5-12

The disciples reached the other shore, and they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus told them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They were discussing among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread.”

Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand and how many baskets you collected? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand and how many large baskets you collected? Why is it you don’t understand that when I told you, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ it wasn’t about bread?” Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the leaven in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples should have collected leftovers from Jesus’ feeding miracles in order to sustain them on their next journey.  Their failure to do so may have been an act of carelessness, but it may indicate that they expected Jesus to perform signs and wonders at every turn, as the religious leaders did.  “Leaven” or “yeast” was used as metaphor for something seemingly insignificant that could have enormous influence.  It could be used to indicate a positive influence, but here it is used negatively.  “The Pharisees and Sadducees” disagreed about many doctrines, so the reference to their common teaching likely meant their skepticism regarding Jesus’ messiahship.

The disciples’ memory of Jesus’ feeding miracles should have been enough to sustain their faith.  Their constant desire for miracles paralleled the Pharisees’ and the Sadducees’ demand for a “sign from heaven” and demonstrated that they were people “of little faith”.

Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:

Genesis 50 and Exodus 1:1-2:10, Matthew 16:13-17:9, Psalm 21:1-13 and Proverbs 5:1-6

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