Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2nd Sunday after Sleebo - the Festival of Cross

Beware of the Leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees

by Rev. Fr. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Gospel: St. Matthew 16:5-12

Next Sunday is the 2nd Sunday after Sleebo. The gospel reading for Sunday is from Matthew 16:5-12.

Theme: "Beware of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Scripture: (Mathew 16:5-12)

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 basketful's you gathered? 10.Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketful's 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.

Message:

There is an important command of Jesus Christ found in today's gospel in verse 6. Jesus said, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The command is again repeated in verse 11 where it reads, "How is it you don't understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? - but beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Let's consider this command by asking and answering a series of questions:

First, "What is leaven?"

Leaven (or yeast) is a powerful fungus that can cause a hump of dough to rise into bread, ferment liquids into alcohol , or cause painful infections. It causes fermentation and make bread rise before baking. For people living in the New Testament age, the way to reproduce yeast was to save a small piece of the unbaked dough, which would later be used to start fermentation in the next batch of bread.

Second, "What does the Bible say about Leaven?"

Like a small piece of yeast is able to cause a relatively large amount of dough to rise, the term here is used figuratively to represent bad influence.

Third, "What is the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?"

It is against the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus warns his disciples. He calls their teaching "yeast" because of the potential of affecting not only their own lives but everyone that they come in contact with. The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees contained a mixture of God's truth and man's traditions. The danger of the yeast is that when spread, it will quickly affect the thought process of individuals that could corrupt their hearts and minds away from the true meaning of God's words and commandments.

The very nature of leaven is that even a small portion of it will permeate an entire batch. This is the warning that Jesus gives and uses leaven (yeast) as a symbol of sin.

See Also:

Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Sleebo

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