Beware the Leaven-March 28, 2012
In one way the demand for a sign ignores the great miracle work of the feeding of the four thousand, and in another way it implies that Jesus’ authority in preaching the kingdom was not enough proof either. Thirdly a sign was given at the baptism of Jesus. Their traditions have blinded them from the word of God. Have ours perhaps done the same? Can you think of some ways this may be true today?
Unless people recognize that God is present, speaking, and acting in Jesus, no form of testimony will persuade them to follow him. No amount of explanation or evidence can provide that initial evidence of faith. Although Jesus’ refusal seems harsh, it acknowledges the reality of human freedom. Faith remains a mysterious gift of responding to God’s Word.
The Pharisees and Herod are enemies of Jesus. As a metaphor, leaven or yeast frequently carries negative overtones, since it was thought to work by creating decay in the dough. Although not specific to the Pharisees it seems to speak of the influence of the Pharisees. The metaphor follows the story of the provision of bread for 4000 people. In a later time also the infection of others as Jesus compares his body to the bread.
An interesting thought is Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples is not about forgetting food but about the condition of their hearts. It is about their lack of understanding, and either originated with the disciples, or they have been or are in danger of being corrupted by the decay of Jesus’ opponents, or did they not understand because they did not have the context of the cross and the resurrection.
The crowds treat Jesus’ healings and exorcisms as evidence of his authority. He is the shepherd who the sheep need. His family thinks that Jesus may have gone insane. His opponents feel that he uses satanic powers. Jesus cannot be a religious teacher, since he shows disregard for training his disciples in piety and careful interpretation of the Law. How did these things affect Jesus’ disciples? Christians understand from the passion story: One disciple betrays Jesus, another denies him, and the rest flee.
What are some examples of leaven that could cause us to become deaf to the gospel?
New Interpreters Bible, Vol. VII, and personal thoughts