Religious establishment elites and leaders of the early first century were driven by desires for secular power, politics and religious control. Sound familiar?
He then left them, got back in the boat, and headed for the other side. But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. Jesus warned, “Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees and the followers of Herod.
Mark 8:13-15 (The Message Bible)
The talking heads of our own day are driven by ratings, advertising dollars, ideology, power and sometimes religious zeal. Whether it is this “the Christian spokesman” or that famous “spiritual leader” or this leftist politician or that conservative talk show host, or this “reverend” or that one, we are bombarded daily and hourly by the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. It is insidious and dangerous. Jesus has warned us.
The terrible result, if we don’t watch out, it is a distraction from the Bread of Life.
- Distraction in this sense does not mean that we are in danger of merely having our attention drawn away from the Master in a particular moment – it means we are in peril of having our entire mindset and worldview drawn away permanently. Yeast causes the bread to expand and change its original shape. Religious and political distraction does something like that to the mind and attitude.
- There is a large difference between despair and longing, and a huge gap between fear and hope. The news media, as it serves up the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod, can bend our minds and hearts to fear and despair, pulling us away from the message of:
- Longing “Happy [Blessed] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
- “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Master Jesus the Messiah, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the stunning beauty (aka glory) of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
- “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
- I can hear someone say, “you are telling me to put my head in the sand!” Nope! In fact, many of us need to pull our heads out of the quicksand and get them back into the Bible and back into a worldview that is marked by truth and by primary hope in the Good News of the Messiah.
- Jesus came that we might have life. That means abundant, fulfilled, wholesome, victorious life in Him, and the truth is that our ultimate and final deliverance is in Him and no other.
- Jesus, the eternal Son of God and King of God’s world. Proclaim it. Shout it out. Avoid the elitist rhetoric and conversations.
We must understand that we are living in a “now and later” reality in the Messiah Jesus. “Now” meaning that He has given us His Holy Spirit and His written word by which to grow in Him and form our views and attitudes about everything, and “later” meaning He will return at the appointed time to complete the changes and the redemption we long for.
- Jesus will make EVERYTHING new! This is JESUS we are talking about – not our favorite television evangelist with a political ax to grind, and not any other yeast peddler. Our real hope is in the Messiah, both now and later.
- Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
- Notice that Jesus did NOT say, “…be of good cheer, with me on your side, you can transform and straighten up the world around you, so get out there and use my name to fix politics and society.”
- The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19).
- When the Master of masters returns to claim His people and His Kingdom, all the words of the talking heads, politicians, pundits and religious gurus put together WILL NOT MATTER! Not a single iota. Nada. Zip. Squadul.
- Every bit of such distracting nonsense should be permanently set aside. Many of us will look back in horror and regret at how much time and attention we devoted to supposedly “transforming society” and all the physical and emotional energy we wasted on it.
Jesus never taught us to be stupid, nor to shirk our reasonable responsibilities as citizens. In fact, He famously said we are to give to the government (aka Caesar) what belongs to the government.
- He did command us not to worry, and to trust Him rather than man, politics or religion for our redemption, deliverance and security. He assured us by both miracles and promises that His supply is always sufficient.
- Immediately before Jesus warned His disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod, He miraculously fed thousands of people with a few small loaves of bread and some small fish (Mark 8:1-9).
- Right afterwards, the disciples worried because they had forgotten to pack bread! This is the context within which Jesus warned of the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod. The “yeast” He warned of was a yeast of unbelief and misplaced hope.
- Our hope does not come through politics, religion or social reform. Let’s remind one another of this, and let’s set our hope on Jesus alone.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in the Messiah Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things