Friday, June 21, 2013

The Yeast of the World

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Matthew 16:5-12

An important warning is given by Jesus to his disciples regarding the religious leaders of their era.  The Pharisees and the Sadducees are very influential.  Their teachings penetrate the life of the people.  The Jews listen to them and seek their guidance in order to organize their life.  They believe that the Pharisees and the Sadducees hold the sacred teachings of God, which will give them life.  Because of their big influence on the people, Jesus warns his disciples to be careful of their teachings.  People who have knowledge commonly have power over those who don’t.  Therefore, the Pharisees and Sadducees have power over the Jews.  They can direct the people the way they want them to go.  The problem is that their knowledge is wrong.  The Pharisees believe that people are saved through obeying the law.  The Sadducees believe that there is no resurrection.  Both are mistaken.  The truth is we are saved only through faith in Jesus Christ and that there is resurrection.  Jesus died to save us.  And Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  So Jesus warns his disciples of the danger of
the teachings of those religious leaders.

In James 3:1 a warning is issued of teachers.  Teachers will be judged more strictly because of their status and position to influence others, even in the matter of life and death.  Teachers are very dangerous because they can save or destroy life.  Once Jesus speaks of this woe in Matthew 23:15: 15 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”  Religious leaders influence people tremendously.  They impress people, especially youngsters and children.  Once people believe what is taught, they believe for life.  In the time of Jesus, the Pharisees teach their successors and make them even more dangerous than they.  In our time today we too deal with many teachings.  Some are true and some are not.  With the explosion of information in our era today, we are having trouble figuring out which is true and which is not.  But Jesus’ warning stands, we need to be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  We may not deal literally with Pharisees and Sadducees now, but we are still dealing with false teachings.  Teachings that are dangerous and yet very influential.  I call it the yeast of the world.

Our world today is filled with many theories, ideas, and concepts.  Not only the diversity of ideas that is stunning, but also the contradictions of those theories against each other.  Some people say that homosexual orientation is human right.  Some say it’s an effect of sin.  Some argue that anything that is not based on science is wrong.  Some say that there are things unexplainable through science.  Some believe that God exists.  While others say that there is no God.  Some say that truth is relative.  Some say that truth is objective.  Some say that there is only one God, and some say that there are three hundred and thirty million gods.  Some say that living beings evolve over a long period of time, millions of years, but some say that living beings were created by God in a matter of days.  Some believe that we create our own destiny, some adamantly contend that the gods/God/heaven determine our destiny.  Some say that when human sperm and ovum meet human life has been created, but some argue that until pregnancy achieves at least 3 month old, the thing in the womb is not yet human, just fetus.  Consequently, some are pro-life but some are pro-choice.  Some say that humans have equal right and yet some say that people have different rights, the caste system for example.  Some say that honesty is the best policy, but others say that keeping the peace is more important.  Some contend for freedom of speech, while some say saving face is more important.  Some believe in miracles, but others say that all seemingly miraculous events have logical explanations, such as the ten plagues of Egypt.  Some say that ends justify the means, but others teach both means and ends must be right.  Some believe that no one should be sacrificed for any reason, but some believe that sacrificing one to save many is good.  Some say that the old must be preserved and thus the young must learn the teachings of the old, but others say that the old teachings must be abandoned for it hampers development and thus encourage the young to invent new things.  Some say that smoking is good, but others abhor smoking.  Some believe that children’s gender doesn’t matter, but some strongly believe that sons are much more valuable than girls.  Some believe that money is king, but others say that money is evil.  Some say that all things in the world is just illusions, but some say that experience of the senses is the only real thing in the world.  And so on and so forth.

We look at all those information and knowledge, we wonder which one is true which one is false.  Each stream of knowledge has its own teacher, just like the Pharisees and Sadducees in the time of Jesus.  Each teacher is convinced that what he/she is teaching is the truth.  And so they teach with their whole heart, which makes it even more dangerous.  The secret of learning that is often ignored is that once something is learned it is not easy to unlearn.  The deeper the knowledge is learned and the more the person mastering the knowledge, the more difficult it is to unlearn.  The saying that goes “it is hard to teach an old dog a new trick” is true.  Jesus says in Matthew 9:16-17: 16 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”  This truth complicates the matter.  Once the yeast is mixed with the dough, we won’t be able to separate it from the dough.  Once the false teaching is mixed inside a person, it is hard to take it out and reeducate him/her to learn new teachings.  Just like the teachers of the law, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees in Jesus’ time is rejecting Jesus’ teachings, so the teachers of the world today reject Jesus’ teachings.

The yeast of the world is strong.  The teachers of the world are very strong.  People today got confused even more with the myriads of ideas and theories surrounding them.  Since people are young, they have been surrounded by many teachings.  The society’s values, the teachings in school, the books, the internet, the Hollywood movies, the social media, all contribute to the mixing of the yeast of the world in the persons.  Once the yeast is mixed in the dough, the yeast continues rising and the dough is done.  The bread that is produced by the mixing of the yeast and the dough is flavored peculiarly according to the character of the yeast.  The person learning the teachings will grow according to the content and character of the teachings.  Even if we bring in the truth, the person might not believe what we say.  For the yeast is already corrupting the person.  Therefore, Jesus’ warning to his disciples two thousand years ago is still applicable for today.  All of us need to beware of the yeast of the world.

In order to be able to spot the yeast of the world, we ought to be familiar with the teachings of Jesus.  This is the only way.  In order for someone to be able to spot a fake diamond, he/she must know what the genuine diamond looks like, feels like, and understand its character.  In the same way, if we want to be able to spot the yeast of the world, we need to understand the truth.  We won’t be able to understand the truth if we don’t submit to Jesus, who is the Truth himself, and the Teacher of the truth.  Only when we are filled with the truth, then we can understand the truth.  Once we understand the truth, the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  Once we are set free, we can spot the yeast of the world and carefully rejecting the yeast of the world from corrupting our person.  Jesus says in John 14:6: I am the way and the truth and the life.”  And so I challenge you to embrace Jesus Christ, the Truth, and reject the yeast of the world.

* The Business of Christian Education L

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