What is the Yeast of the Pharisees? (Y1.T2.D15)
According to the Food Network:
Yeast is a single-celled living organism that . . . eats its two favorite foods—sugar and starch— they are transformed through fermentation into carbon dioxide . . . [causing] breads to rise. . . Yeast’s scientific name is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which quite literally means “sugar-eating fungus.”
All the Jewish people of Jesus' time would know about yeast because of Passover:
This day shall be a memorial for you. You shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh. You shall keep it as a feast throughout your generations by an ordinance forever. “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away yeast out of your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel." (Exodus 12:14–15)
So what is the sweet-consuming-burden-placing yeast of the Pharisees?
In Luke 12:1, Jesus taught, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
Merriam Webster defines the essential meaning of hypocrisy as: "the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel."
As you read today's passages you will find the accusations Jesus hurls at the religious elite—Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers. Things like "You load men with burdens that are difficult to carry, and you yourselves won’t even lift one finger to help carry those burdens" (Luke 11:46).
So simply said, the yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. We need to beware of leaders who say one thing and do another, refusing to humble themselves. The best religious leaders to follow are those who take on the same difficult responsibilities they assign others.
And before I go, it's important to remember, regardless of our current position, we all lead someone—neighbors, children, friends—and we should not only watch out for hypocrites, we need to make sure we don't become one either.
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29 When the multitudes were gathering together to him, (Luke 11:29a)
38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” (Matthew 12:38)
40 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” (Matthew 12:40)
30 For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so the Son of Man will also be to this generation. (Luke 11:30)
43 “When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, and doesn’t find it. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return into my house from which I came;’ and when he has come back, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with himself seven other spirits more evil than he is, and they enter in and dwell there. The last state of that man becomes worse than the first. Even so will it be also to this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43–45)
37 Now as he spoke, a certain Pharisee asked him to dine with him. He went in and sat at the table. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed himself before dinner. 39 The Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness. 40 You foolish ones, didn’t he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give for gifts to the needy those things which are within, and behold, all things will be clean to you. 42 But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, but you bypass justice and God’s love. You ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like hidden graves, and the men who walk over them don’t know it.”
45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying this you insult us also.”
46 He said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load men with burdens that are difficult to carry, and you yourselves won’t even lift one finger to help carry those burdens. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 So you testify and consent to the works of your fathers. For they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will kill and persecute, 50 that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary.’ Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you took away the key of knowledge. You didn’t enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in, you hindered.”
53 As he said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be terribly angry, and to draw many things out of him; 54 lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch him in something he might say, that they might accuse him.
1 Meanwhile, when a multitude of many thousands had gathered together, so much so that they trampled on each other, he began to tell his disciples first of all, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (Luke 11:37–12:1)
26 Therefore don’t be afraid of them, (Matthew 10:26a)
Make me fully aware of the beam in my eye and less obsessed with the speck in my neighbor's (Matthew 7:5). I want to put away all wickedness, deceit, hypocrisies, envy, and evil speaking from my life (1 Peter 2:1). As both a leader and a follower, I seek to obey Your commandments and remain in Your love (John 15:10).
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