Last time we discovered that there are several kinds of yeast, including ones that are not conductive to experiencing our Heavenly Father fully. Let us not forget that leaven is an illustration of the things that can affect our minds. Just as good yeast will make the bread rise and bad yeast will result in flat bread, the leaven Jesus is referring to can affect our minds in either a good or a bad way.
We discovered that Herod’s yeast was referring to practical atheism among believers, and thus, it was a “bad” leaven. Today we will explore the leaven of the Pharisees: “‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.'” (Mark 8:15, NIV2)
Certainly most of us have read about Jesus pronouncing condemnation towards these Pharisees:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” (Matt 23:27, NIV2)
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matt 23:13, NIV2)
It’s clear that the yeast of the Pharisees refers to religious people (Not to be confused with those who have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father!). The religious accept the concept of God in theory, but do not experience Him at all. They are the ones who condemn the less-worthy, the sinners, the homosexuals, those who wear tattoos or drink beer, etc.
Take for example, “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” (Mark 2:15, NIV2)
Watch what happens next, when a religious group shows up: “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Mark 2:16, NIV2) In other words, they were condemning Jesus’ conduct!
That’s the biggest difference between the religious and those who are experiencing God: The religious condemn or reject others that are not like them, considering them to be unworthy. The ones following Christ will embrace any sinner. How else could we react? If Jesus died for every one’s sins, why should I reject the very people Jesus died for? They too, when they realize how much Jesus loves them, will follow Him with enthusiasm, just like I did when I discovered the real Jesus!
I heard once from some disillusioned people that at one time they took bible studies. They were condemned by their own parents. Why? Because they had hunks of beef in the fridge! “No way you are saved,” declared their parents. “You are completely lost! Look at all the meat in your fridge! Disgusting!” Since when is meat a sin? I wonder. What is even more disgusting is that the religious continually condemn others, even if the things they are criticizing have no bearing on the gospel message!
Besides condemning others mercilessly, those with the “yeast of the Pharisees” do not believe in God’s practical power. When they pray for the sick, they say, “God heal them if it’s your will.” This leaves room for doubt, and this doubt is constantly on their minds. Though they believe that Jesus and His disciples did miracles of healing, they do not believe this is for our day and time. They may have forgotten what Jesus said about this: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14, NIV2). Instead they declare that these healings are of the devil, based on Matt 24:24. Even though they broadcast that they are the only ones to know Truth, they, themselves, have no understanding of Truth.
Sadly enough, even Jesus was declared demon-possessed by these very same religious men: “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'” (Matt 12:24, NIV2). These religious followers are quite good in giving explanations, but they are devoid of the power from on high. They are hollowed and cracked cymbals that can no longer produce music.
Unlike these religious nuts, Jesus welcomes anyone, whoever they are. He doesn’t see us as filthy and disgusting, He sees our potential and loves us so deeply that He was willing to die for us so that we could experience our Heavenly Father fully: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37, NIV)
Just last year I read in the paper about a young man in the Netherlands who hired a crane so that he could propose to his girlfriend. His plan was for the crane to lower him into the garden where his girlfriend would be. Instead, the crane fell into the neighbor’s roof, damaging it extensively. It was quite a shock to those neighbors. Thankfully, it all ended well: His girlfriend accepted his proposal. Quite a unique proposal, don’t you think?
The religious would have condemned that young man for his irresponsibility; but since love is what Jesus proclaimed throughout His ministry on Earth, He would have smiled at this man’s endeavors. We, too, should not put limits on sharing our Heavenly Father, who is nuts about every one of us!
(To access the entire “Do we Truly Believe?” devotional series, please click here.)