Last time we discovered that Jesus referred to 3 kinds of leaven: The real yeast that raises bread without any help, Herod’s yeast and the yeast of the Pharisees. Today’s focus will be on Herod’s yeast.
But first, just who was Herod? There is but one mention of the first Herod in the Bible, when magi from the Far East ended up in Jerusalem. It’s then that Herod heard about the birth of the Messiah. He was so disturbed with this that: “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matt 2:16, NIV2) He died a few years later.
There is mention, however, of a second Herod in the gospel: “But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.” (Luke 3:19.20, NIV2) While John was in prison, Herod enjoyed listening to him; but it left him quite puzzled. (See Mark 6:20). His wife wanted to get rid of John, and the daughter of Herodias would bring the death verdict to Jesus’ cousin. She danced so beautifully that Herod offered her anything she would like. She asked for john’s head on a platter: “The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.” (Mark 6:26, NIV2)
There is yet another mention of Herod. When Jesus was arrested and brought to Pilate, Pilate sent him to Herod, as Jesus was under his jurisdiction. “When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.” (Luke 23:8, NIV2) However Jesus remained silent the whole time. Vexed, “Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.” (Luke 23:11, NIV2)
Both of these Herod’s were focused on their own prowess and were more concerned about themselves than anyone else. They would ridicule and kill to have their own way.
Clearly Herod’s leaven represents an atheistic influence based on the strength of man. We can see this kind of leaven in politics, in competitions, in having our own way. Both Herods excluded our Heavenly Father completely. They wanted to be fully in charge of everything in their surroundings. No competition!
When Jesus talked about Herod’s leaven, however, he was speaking to his disciples. It was a message to them and all of us believers of the Most High: “‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.'” (Mark 8:15, NIV2) He was warning them, as well as ourselves, of what can shipwreck our faith!
Sadly, large numbers of believers are practical atheists. Day in and day out they resolve their own problems, without putting our Father in the equation. Whenever they face difficulties, they live exactly the same as their atheist neighbors. They can solve anything. No help is needed. ‘Me first’ is their motto, and they will do anything to have their will prevail.
When my kids were young, they were part of a musical band. Both played the piano quite well, and one day they were invited to a church that was radically opposite to what I was used to. There was no cross. There was no mention of God or prayer. Instead, they were focusing on the great endeavors their members had done during that week.
After the band had played, all the members went to eat. Not once did they invite the musicians to join them. I was so shocked.
Don’t we function just like these people at times? So often we boast about what we have done during the day. Who should be getting the credit? We wouldn’t be able to do anything if it wasn’t from our Father!
This reminds me of the following Bible text: “A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” (Mark 5:25-26, NIV2)
This poor woman had been searching for healing. She tried every doctor possible and spent all her earnings to obtain what she wanted so much: healing. No one was able to heal her. All her life she had barked at the wrong tree. Desperate, “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him (Jesus) in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:27-29, NIV2)
Only One can heal so vigorously. Only One can save us. Only One can give us purpose.
One day, we, too, will die. It’s then that we will realize whether or not we put our trust in the right person: “Me myself and I-and the dog named Boo” or our loving Father in Heaven.
I have a terrible problem!
What will you do about it?
(To access the entire “Do we Truly Believe?” devotional series, please click here.)