Blessed… Beware

When the disciples arrived on the other side of the lake, they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “We didn’t bring any bread.” Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “You people of weak faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you don’t have any bread?  Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves that fed the five thousand and how many baskets of leftovers you gathered?  And the seven loaves that fed the four thousand and how many large baskets of leftovers you gathered?  Don’t you know that I wasn’t talking about bread? But be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Then they understood that he wasn’t telling them to be on their guard for yeast used in making bread. No, he was telling them to watch out for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:5-12, Common English Bible).

Jesus often used metaphors that would have been familiar to His listeners. He used fishing as a metaphor when recruiting disciples who were fishermen, “fishing for people.” He called his followers sheep. He talked about living water. There are many others as well, including the metaphor in our lesson today.

In today’s lesson Jesus uses yeast as a metaphor to point out the dangers we face when listening to the wrong teachers. For many of us, the metaphor isn’t completely familiar. I don’t think I have ever baked a loaf of bread. I have made some biscuits a few times in my life, but I don’t think I have ever baked a loaf of bread. And, I am not alone. We live in a time when we can run to the grocery store at a drop of a hat and buy a loaf.

I do, however, understand the concept. In order for the yeast to fulfill its function, it has to spread through all the dough. The leavening agent cannot be in half the dough. We might have some strange looking and perhaps even some strange tasting bread if we were to try it in that manner. What may leave us shaking our heads at Jesus’ metaphor is, when we see yeast in bread we consider that a good thing. Our bread would be pretty plat without it.

On the other hand, Jesus used the metaphor to point out a negative idea. The Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as other legal experts and teachers of the law were not teaching the concepts of grace and love, the things Jesus came to teach, that the world might know. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew their stuff. Of that, there is little doubt. But their primary focus was on living out the law, something that was impossible to do, and to not live out grace. The teaching, at best, was incomplete. It was wrong. And that wrong, Jesus was saying, left unchecked would spread through the body just as yeast spreads through bread dough.

We may not have Pharisees, Sadducees, legal experts and teachers of the law today, at least not all of them in the same ways Jesus and the disciples had to deal with them. But, we still do have false teachers. We have those who still try to teach a message of an angry God instead of a God that the Bible tells us is love. We have those who teach a prosperity gospel that essentially says, if you have enough faith God wants to give you every desire of your heart. It simply isn’t true. It is like yeast spreading through the bread dough. We too must beware of the yeast that is false teachers.

What false teachings have you learned to guard against?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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