by C.H. Spurgeon
Gospel: St. Matthew 16:5-12
Matthew 16:5-12 The King Misunderstood by His Own 5.
And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
They had forgotten to victual their boat. This they seem to have found out for themselves as soon as they “were come to the other side. ” They seldom forgot such temporal matters. Possibly they trusted each other, and what was every man’s business was nobody’s business. They did not notice the omission while they were crossing the sea; but mealtime came, and their minds were quickly brought to think of the loaves. Controversy had for a while engrossed their minds with religious matters; but lack of bread, and consequent hunger soon recalled them to the things of earth.
6. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
He used a parabolic expression, which they would readily have understood, had not their minds been already absorbed by their lack of bread. He saw that in them, too, there would soon be a desire for a sign, now that they needed bread; and he feared the influence of both the Ritualism of the Pharisee, and the Rationalism of the Sadducee upon his little church. Hence his double word, “Take heed, and beware. ” The warning is needed today as much as in our Lord’s time: possibly it is even more required, and will be less regarded. “Pharisees and Sadducees ” are both leavening the churches, and the spirit of the one is as bad as that of the other Everywhere we see the one evil force, operating in two opposite ways, but rapidly leavening the meal of nominal Christendom. Lord, save thy people from this souring and corrupting influence!
7. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Their thoughts ran along the low material level from leaven to bread. Did they imagine that he forbade their borrowing leaven from the Pharisees when they began to make a batch of bread? How could they have found any meaning in the literal sense of leaven as applied to Sadducees? They were earthbound by anxiety, or they could not have blundered so foolishly.
When a number of hungry men are together, is it not very natural that they should look at everything with hungry eyes? Yes, it is natural; and it is not natural to men to be spiritual. We need to pray that we may not reason among ourselves after the same groveling fashion, when we come into a little need. 8-10. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Want of faith made them thus dull and carnal. Want of bread would not have troubled them if they had possessed more grace. Our Lord as good as says to them, “Why begin raising questions as to what can be done under this small difficulty? Have I not dealt with far greater necessities? :Have not your own personal wants been richly supplied? Has your store been exhausted even when all your thoughts have gone out towards the multitude, and all your store of bread and fish has been given up to them?
What occasion can there be for anxiety in my presence, when I have always supplied your wants?”
How foolish they were, but how like we are to them! We seem to learn nothing. After years of experience, our Lord has to say, “Do ye not yet understand, neither remember? ” Two stupendous miracles had not lifted those disciples to that plane of thought which is becoming in believers; and after all our experiences and deliverances, we, alas! are much as they were.
How our mind dwells on the bread which we are wanting, and how readily it forgets former times when all such wants were abundantly supplied! The many baskets which were so amply filled by former providences were the disciples’ own share and store, and therefore they ought not to have forgotten the miraculous festivals. Even the empty baskets should have refreshed their memories, and reminded them of how they had twice been filled. If it were not for our wretched little faith, and our reasoning among ourselves, the memory of our former deliverances would lift us beyond all tendency to mistrust our God.
O sacred Spirit, teach us, or we shall never learn! Make us wise, or we shall still continue in the folly of carnal reasoning!
11. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
At bottom it was unbelief which clouded their understanding. Jesus may well say to doubters, “Ye do not understand. ” Truly, nothing more effectually blunts spiritual perception than an overpowering anxiety for the bread which perisheth. When a doctrine is not understood, it may not always be the fault of the teacher. Very plain speaking is frequently misunderstood when the mind is absorbed in pressing needs. It was sad to see apostles taking our Lord literally, and failing to see the obvious parable of his words. How could “the leaven of the Pharisee ” be a term used concerning bread?
12. Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
The doctrine of these sectaries had a secret, insinuating, and souring influence; and the disciples must carefully watch lest even a little of its spirit and teaching should get into their minds, and then spread throughout their whole nature. Both these leavens may be at work at once in the same community; in fact, they are only one leaven. The two sets of opponents assailed the Lord Jesus at the same time, for they had a common ground of opposition against him. To this day these two forms of evil are ever working, either secretly or openly, and we have need to beware of them at all times. It is well to understand this, and both purge out the old leaven of Pharisaism, and keep out the new leaven of Sadduceeism.
Self-righteousness and carnal reasoning must alike be cast out. Faith will find them both to be her deadly foes. Many are amusing themselves with the evil leaven; and before they are aware, the unhallowed thing will defile them. To be evangelical, and yet to be superstitious or rationalistic at the same time, is next to impossible. Certain of our contemporaries are trying to bake with this leaven, but their bread will be sour.BEWARE!
Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Sleebo
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