Pharisees and Sadducees – Mere Weathermen

(Today's post by Keith Senator)

Matthew 16:1-20

We are made, we are designed to relate to God. It is just part of the fallout/blessing of being created, you are dependent on that which created you. But we are also bent on depending on ourselves. We rebel from our dependency on God and try to make our own way. To make matters worse, once you add in upbringing, cultural norms, and religion, I don’t know how one could know which way to turn.

Today, in Matthew 16, we see Jesus dealing with people who demand a sign from heaven. This seems like a common theme. What is it about the physical world that we deem as being the highest form of proof?

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

The interesting thing with the Pharisees and Sadducees is they are always trying to trick Jesus. They are not honestly seeking Jesus for answers. What is he really doing? It seems clear that by talking about the sky and the weather, he is saying that these are things that can easily be observes in the physical world and requires no spiritual maturity at all. However, in order to determine the/a sign of the times, you would need to be connected to the source of all that exists. Jesus goes on to talk about “the yeast”.

Any ideas on what this means? “Be careful, be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees”

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 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.

Well I am not for sure, but there are many references to yeast and in the Jewish culture, yeast is not used in baking. I have heard it said before that it is essentially pride. I tend to think it is much more severe than this. I think it is what God calls grieving the Holy Spirit. I think it is actually taking credit for something God does. This is a very serious problem. When I see Jesus doing things, he is very clear that he is not the one to get any credit. He knows this is not His place. He does what the Father tells him to do.

Next we look at something very interesting. Jesus positions the question to the disciples.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

So why did Jesus ask them not to tell anyone who he was? Was it that they were in a new town and he didn’t want to fight immediately with the “law”. Did he want to mingle with the people first? Or is it that he wants people to recognize him by faith instead of by deed?

I think this is a gem, the difference of something being revealed by God vs. something revealed by flesh and blood.

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