Skip to content

5Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.6Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”7And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”8But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?9Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up?10Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?11How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? – but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”12Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew14:17-21;15:34-38, Mark8:14-21)

Jesus soon went away from the place where He had fed the four thousand, moving to the other side of the lake. The disciples could not buy food to take with them during this voyage. When Christ talked to them about the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees that poisons the thoughts, they thought that He meant the leaven of bread. They had their mind set on the things of this world and He had His mind set on the things of heaven, for He had placed all His concerns in His Father’s hands.
Jesus reproved His disciples for thinking about bread more than spiritual things. He pointed to the five thousand fed with five loaves, and the four thousand with seven loaves. Why did they worry about bread while He was with them? Jesus, again, made clear to them that the legalism of the Pharisees and the liberalism of the Sadducees were not in conformity with God’s love in the New Testament, the love that guides man by the Holy Spirit into the service of sacrifice. Jesus pressed upon His followers the necessity to guard against hypocrisy and guard against having a form of godliness only. He urged them to confess their sins and serve God by His grace.
This disagreement between the worship of God based on self-righteousness, by keeping the law, and the freedom of Christ’s love based on His atonement and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is deeply rooted. It appears as a violent struggle throughout the Acts of the Apostles. In this book, the apostle Paul became the well-known fighter for the sake of freeing our minds from seeking righteousness by law. He testified to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, made possible by Christ fulfilling all the requirements of righteousness on the cross. What a pity, that even now, some believers do not recognize the error of justification by one’s own deeds. It is a dominant Jewish thought from the heart of the Old Testament, whereas righteousness by faith is the basis of the worldwide message of the New Testament.

We glorify You and rejoice, Father, Son , and Holy Spirit, because You delivered us from depending on our own godliness. We are but sinners. Yet You have justified and sanctified us, and You keep us in Your grace that we may serve You with joy, without the spirit of hypocrisy. We are justified sinners, and You have made us holy children of Yours by saving us by pure grace.
Why should we beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees?