Beware The Leaven

Preached at Riverview Baptist 798 Santa Fe Pike Columbia Tn
on the evening of May 7, 2017

carbs-bread

Matthew 16:1-12  The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.  [2]  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.   [3]   And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?   [4]   A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And he left them, and departed.  [5]  And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.  [6]  Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.   [7]  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.  [8]   Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?   [9]   Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [10]   Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [11]   How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?   [12]  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

I was at the local Walmart the other day (I feel like I’m a shareholder there) when I saw an older gentleman wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat. Whenever I see a veteran I try and speak to that person and thank them for their service to our country. I walked up to the man and said “Good Afternoon”. He immediately responded “What’s good about it? It’s rained so much that even the ducks are looking for shelter”. The man was pushing a shopping cart filled with food. He himself was three times my size – and I am not little. He’s standing not in the rain, but in a huge climate controlled store with every food item imaginable. He came through one of the worst wars our country ever fought, a miserable war fought by politicians – much like the Korean war – and this man was walking about with all arms and legs.

In short, he is blessed. He is blessed beyond measure, and doesn’t even know it. He is blessed that, though we were having rainy days, we we’re being flooded like much of the northern and eastern United States were. How can we be so blessed and not even notice it? How can we as Americans be so blessed and yet never thank God for those blessings, nor even notice the blessings?

Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The Pharisees and Sadducees – two religious groups in Jesus’ day – stood in front of Jesus and said:

Show Us A Sign From Heaven

What they were really saying was this:

Jesus, if You are the Messiah, show us a miracle from Heaven”

Now I want you to think about that for a minute. How many miracles had Jesus shown the Pharisees and Sadducees up to this point?

  • The Pharisees saw Jesus cast out demons from people, and said (Matthew 9:34) “He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.”
  • The Pharisees saw Jesus heal a man with a crippled hand and (Matthew 12:14) “went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.”
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees saw Jesus feed five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread (see Matthew 14:16-21).
  • The Pharisees and Sadducees saw Jesus feed four thousand with seven loaves of bread and several small fish (see Matthew 15:32-38).

The Pharisees and Sadducees have seen Jesus do miracle after miracle, and they stand before Him and say “Show us a sign from Heaven”. Jesus told them:

Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.

This is not the first time Jesus made this statement to the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus back in:

Matthew 12:38  Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

Jesus told them:

Matthew 12:39-40  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah:   [40]   For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had hardened their hearts against any miracle that Christ could do. The only sign that might be understood by those who had so hardened themselves was the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The standing sign that Jesus has given to the world that He is the Only Messiah is that He willingly gave Himself on Calvary. That He suffered the torment of beatings and the nails, and that Jesus hung on that Cross until our sins were paid for.

Jesus died because of our sins.

Jesus could heal the sicknesses caused by sin. He could heal leprosy, blindness, the mute, and the crippled. Jesus even reversed death by calling Lazarus from the tomb, and raising a 12 year girl back to life. There was nothing that Jesus could not do.

Jesus fed five thousand with two fish and five loaves of bread. 5+2=7, the number of God. Only God could do this. Only God could take 7 pieces of food and make it feed 5000. Jesus Christ is God’s Sign from Heaven! Jesus is the Messiah!

Then Jesus did His encore performance. We read:

Matthew 15:30-31  And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and HE HEALED THEM:  [31]  Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus healed person after person, all day long. Then as they day wore on Jesus had compassion on the multitudes:

Matthew 15:32-34  Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.   [33]  And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?  [34]  And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

Jesus had seven – five loaves and two little fishes – when He fed 5000. Now there are 4000 to feed. What does He have? Seven. SEVEN. SEVEN Loaves, and a few fish. Jesus has them sit down just as He did before. Jesus gave thanks to God, and broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples, and the food multiplied until all were fed. We are told in:

Matthew 15:38  And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

And now the Pharisees and Sadducees want a sign. They want a sign. Oh, they have had sign after sign, blessing after blessing, miracle after miracle, but have seen nothing because their hearts are hardened.

Take The Bread But Beware The Leaven

Matthew 16:4-6 … {Jesus}left {the Pharisees and Sadducees}, and departed.  [5]  And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.  [6]  Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Jesus had just performed a miracle where He had fed above four thousand people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. So Jesus and His disciples get in a boat and go to the other side of the lake. Now there was bread left over – seven baskets of food was left over following the miracle. Seven baskets, large baskets, plenty of food for later.

And the disciples forget to take bread with them.

Now that’s a bone headed stunt. But I understand. I’m forgetful. I forget things at times. I often go to the store to buy one thing, and end up buying ten other things and forget to pick up the one thing I came for. I did it just the other day. Humans after foolishly forgetful. So when Jesus said:

Take Heed And Beware Of The Leaven Of The Pharisees And Sadducees

They thought Jesus was chastising them for forgetting the bread.

Matthew 16:7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

Oh, it’s because WE messed up. WE forgot to take bread. WE should have taken those 7 baskets of leftovers, and now WE are out of bread. But Beloved, JESUS IS THE BREAD OF LIFE. He tells His disciples:

John 6:32-35  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.   [33]   For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.   [34]  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.  [35]  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The disciples may have forgotten to take the seven leftover baskets of food, but they had not forsaken the Bread of Life. Christ is the Bread of God that comes down from Heaven.

John 6:47-51   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.   [48]   I am that bread of life.   [49]   Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.   [50]   This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.   [51]   I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. He was not concerned that His disciples left 7 baskets of bread on the other side. Jesus could raise up baskets of bread from the sand of the seashore. Jesus could speak bread into existence, just as Jesus spoke the earth and all that is in it into existence. The Bible says:

John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  [2]  The same was in the beginning with God.  [3]  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

It is Jesus Who was with both Father and Spirit in the beginning of creation. It is Jesus Who shaped Adam of the dust of the ground, and with His kiss breathed into Him the breath of life. The Jesus Who made bread enough to feed above 5000 and above 4000 is the Jesus Who gave His life for this world. The Jesus Who healed person after person of corruption could not heal the sins of this world unless He Himself, like bread, was broken. The reason that Jesus came into this world was to give us access to the Father.

John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus entered this world through a manger in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, ministered throughout Israel and Rome, died on a Cross at Calvary, and rose again three days and nights later. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven, the perfect Sacrifice for our sins.

Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

Jesus died for us. He is the Bread of Heaven in Whom was no sin, but died for our sins. Jesus paid the ultimate penalty so that we would not have to suffer hell through out eternity.

1 Peter 1:18-20 (NKJV) … knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Heaven. If you, by faith, receive Him as He is, then you will live forever with Him.

Galatians 3:22-26 (NKJV) But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Scripture declares that all are sinners, and that sin is deadly, and that sin is against God. But God Himself came to this earth to pay for our sins, to release us from the power of sin, and to bring us into His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus told His disciples:

Matthew 16:9-12 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [10]   Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?   [11]   How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?   [12]  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Jesus IS the Bread – He cared nothing for the leftover bread. He is THE Bread from Heaven.

We Are To Beware The Leaven (Doctrine) Of The Pharisees And Sadducees

Leaven” is yeast. I love to bake bread. There’s nothing better than fresh baked bread. But you cannot make a decent, edible bread without yeast. If you have ever eaten the Lord’s Table with us you know that the bread we serve at the Lord’s Table is UNLEAVENED bread. It is hard to eat. Someone told me they went to a Church one time and ate bread at the Lord’s Table that was soft, like loaf bread. That is NOT unleavened bread. Soft bread is soft because yeast has been mixed into it. When yeast is introduced to flour, water, and sugar the yeast begins to reproduce. One of the byproducts of its reproduction is carbon dioxide, the same gas that humans breath out. If you have ever looked at a piece of sliced white bread you’ll see tiny pockets all through the bread. This is where the carbon dioxide caused bubbles in the dough causing it to rise. That leaven called yeast passes through ALL of the dough, so much so that once it it baked the bread is light and fluffy.

We use unleavened bread at the Lord’s Table because this is what Jesus used. But we use leavened bread in our meals, for sandwiches, for regular eating. The bread that Jesus reproduced to feed the five thousand and the four thousand was LEAVENED bread.

Jesus said “Beware the LEAVEN of the Pharisees and the Sadducees”. The LEAVEN or the DOCTRINE of these religious groups was to REJECT CHRIST in favor of humanism or religion. The Pharisees of Jesus day represented the religious RIGHT without Christ. The Sadducees of Jesus day represented the religious LEFT without Christ. We are confronted with the same attacks today.

  • The Sadducees Were The Religious LEFT Who Minimize Sin And It’s Impact. It looks the other way on what God says is evil. It smiles at sins that are destructive to the fabric of our society. It twists the Scriptures to make it seem as if – since Christ paid for sin – we are now free to sin at will. The Apostle Paul responded to such things in His day by writing:

Romans 6:1-2  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  [2]  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Romans 6:11-18  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  [12]  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  [13]  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  [14]  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.  [15]  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.  [16]  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  [17]  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  [18]  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

Those who are saved by faith in Christ are no longer servants of sin, but are servants of righteousness. We who are saved by Christ live for Christ. We live with Christ.

  • The Pharisees were the religious RIGHT who maximize human effort while rejecting Christ. Salvation is entirely a gift of God. The Pharisees plagued the early Church by telling Gentiles who were never circumcised that they need to be circumcised in order to be saved. This is not true. Salvation is a pearl of great price. It is blessing that God offers to all. The Apostle Peter preached:

Acts 2:38-39 (NKJV) “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

The Pharisees add to salvation by adding things which God has never added.

What shall wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus?

What shall make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow,

That makes me white as snow,

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees robs the world of the joy of salvation. It is …

Titus 3:5-7 (NKJV) … not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Neither Pharisee nor Sadducee walked with Christ. The Christian way is to walk with Christ. Once saved by Grace, we live in righteousness and love. We live in His Kingdom doing His will until we meet Him in eternity forever.

May God touch your hearts with His Word!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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