14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod." 16 They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" "Twelve," they replied. 20 "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?" They answered, "Seven." 21 He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"
Thoughts: A little bit of yeast works its way through the whole bread- like a little drop of poison can poison the whole cup. The yeast of the Pharisees is legalism- valuing outward show and rules (Mk. 7:6-13) and holding their own traditions above the scripture (Mt. 23:23). But what would be the yeast of Herod? Matthew mentions the yeast of the Pharisees and Saducees (16:5). All of these sects held two things in common- 1) they were hypocritical, and 2) they followed their own way rejecting the simple meaning of scripture. It is well known that Jesus rejected the Pharisees as hypocritical (Mt. 23:23); But the Herodians wanted to pretend to be godly while following other gods and not obeying God. For example, Herod built the temple, but was well-known as a ruthless ruler who murdered his wife, son, and the children of Bethlehem. Herod was one who wanted to be called a believer all the while secularizing the society. Both the Pharisees and the Herodians (and the Saducees too) found rationalization and excuses around the simple meaning of scripture. So today, scholars try to find rationalization around the simple meaning of scripture about sexual morality-especially homosexuality and adultery (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:24,25). The Church becomes not only corrupt but useless as we focus on our excuses and traditions instead of the simple scriptures. God is the only real provider- not those who find ways around God's law. Excuses and hyposcrisy poison the Word, taking away from its power. We need to trust in God's Word, not in the rules or even excuses of people.
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust in your provision and your Word- the bread of life. Keep me from show and excuses that would dilute my heart's love for you.
John Calvin abridged: Jesus was exhorting his disciples to beware of every abuse that makes an inroad on sincere piety. The Pharisees started this corruption, the Saducees joined them, and Herod- a very wicked man and an opponent and corrupter of sound doctrine. In the midst of these dangers it was very necessary to warn his disciples to be on their guard; for, since the human
mind has a natural inclination towards vanity and errors, when we are surrounded by wicked inventions, spurious doctrines, and other plagues of the same sort, nothing is more easy than to depart from the true and simple purity of the word of God; and if we once become entangled in these things, it will never be possible for the true religion to hold an entire sway over us.