Reading today from Mark 8 – 10.
There is much mention of leaven throughout scripture. It was forbidden in the house of a Hebrew on Passover; it is a symbol of delay, and God commanded them to make haste concerning their departure from Egypt. Leaven also symbolizes the spread of pride and evil; it is puffed up with self and selfish ambition; with no time or room for God.
In my observations of scripture there is no time when leaven is used as a symbol or type of anything good. For today’s observation we will look at the lesson Jesus gives concerning the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod;
“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, ‘Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ They say unto him, Twelve. ‘And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ And they said, Seven. And He said unto them, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?'” Mark 8:14-21 (KJV)
These verses begin by telling the reader that the disciples had gotten into the boat with only one loaf of bread, and no more. This gives us a clue as to the disciples thoughts on bread, and their misunderstanding. Jesus says, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.” Now His disciples begin thinking that Jesus is concerned about the lack of bread.
Jesus reminds them of the miracles of the fish and the loaves in the feeding of 5,000 men, not counting women and children; and of the miracle of the loaves to 4,000 men, not counting women and children; and their worried about bread? They are not understanding.
Jesus is speaking of an arrogant, pride filled heart; a puffed up attitude of one’s self and leadership. With an attitude similar to the Pharisees and of Herod there is nothing but destruction awaiting that type of person. Have you ever noticed with the use of leaven that it never adds anything to taste, or even to its content. Leaven/Yeast merely puffs up a loaf of bread, makes it appear to be more than what it is; when all it really is is simply air.
The thing the disciples needed to understand, and that many professing believers of our day need to understand is who Jesus really is. It had not quite clicked in their hearts just yet. They had witnessed the miracles of the loaves and fishes, the opening of the eyes of the blind; and the healing of the deaf ears; but yet they were not fully seeing who Jesus is, nor hearing all that He said.
In just a bit Peter makes his confession of who Jesus is, “Thou art the Christ.” and in Matthew (16:16) the words, “Son of the living God” are spoken.
Sin and pride; its leaven; blinds eyes, and closes hearts to the understanding of who Jesus is.
-Tim A. Blankenship