The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
I love to bake bread. Ever since we got a bread machine, I love to make all kinds of breads, but my favorite so far is an oatmeal wheat bread. Its really simple and fairly healthy (as breads go). So, as I thought about the power of yeast, I thought, how about the process of making bread (at least with a bread machine)…Put in the ingredients with the yeast as the final one, let it mix, rise, bake, and enjoy. It was a wonderful smell in our kitchen tonight and even better to taste. It came out just about perfectly. But I have had more than a few breads that I have made that just didn’t come out – not sure what it was- not enough yeast, wrong measuring of ingredients…who knows, but the breads just did not come out the way that I hoped they would. There are others, that come out too well. I made a batch of dough a week or so ago that rose way over the sides of the bread machine pan – created quite a mess, but it sure rose!
The yeast that Jesus talks about here is one that allows for abundance (see my post from the other day). It grows what was a small amount into something bigger and richer and providing for more. The yeast of Jesus’ opponents, however, was one that limited and did not allow expansion beyond what was already known and expected. There’s only so far one can push this analogy, but I think that’s what I hear in Jesus’ words here that as he talks of the two miraculous feedings, he reminds the disciples of how much was left over. The abundance once again. The yeast of Jesus…let that fill your life that your love and grace and truth and hope may expand and overflow.