MARK 8:1-21 (NIV – UK)
Jesus feeds the four thousand
1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.’
4 His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’
5 ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked.
‘Seven,’ they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.’13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
The yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
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?’
BEWARE OF BAD YEAST
The disciples had only brought one loaf with them, which was seems to have not been enough (v. 14). Jesus uses this moment to give a warning: ‘Be careful,’Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod’ (v. 15). Now, yeast is a vital ingredient in bread, and even the smallest drop of yeast will spread throughout the dough. So what point does Jesus mean to make here? The disciples conclude it’s because they have no bread (v. 16), but Jesus means to make a different point.
Having just performed his second large-scale feeding miracle using bread, Jesus warns against going to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Herod was considered a Sadducee) for bread – except Jesus isn’t really talking about bread – he is talking about teaching, about wisdom, about truth and knowledge. Jesus warns against turning to the poisonous teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but instead coming coming to him – the one who supplies life-giving sustenance in abundance (v. 19-20).
Perhaps the some modern-day equivalents might be Atheism (belief that there is no God) and Philosophical Deism (belief that a general sense of God can be known in some impartial way). We should be warned against all these things – all of the philosophies of this age that deny Jesus – because even letting those things into our lives a little, just like yeast, it will spread throughout our being. Jesus means to call us to himself for al sustenance, for all wisdom, for all truth and knowledge – we be always turned towards him.
Question: Do you look for truth and knowledge anywhere else other than Jesus?