Prepare to Listen. Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 16:1-12
The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” 3And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ Then he left them and went away. 5When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ 7They said to one another, ‘It is because we have brought no bread.’ 8And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? 9Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’ 12Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed on theology and politics but agreed on opposing Jesus. Together they demanded to see a sign, proof of his credentials. Jesus rebuked them, and for the second time called them “an evil and adulterous generation,” and warned that “no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”  Jonah was a recalcitrant prophet who reluctantly preached repentance to Gentiles in Nineveh. Jesus, as the sign of Jonah, was a willing prophet who preached repentance to both Gentiles and Jews in Galilee. Pharisees and Sadducees rejected him, and Jesus departed.
He warned his disciples: “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They took him literally and assumed he rebuked them for forgetting bread for the journey. They should have known better. They grew up using leaven as a symbol of impurity and evil, but they thought Jesus used it literally to refer to bread. He was warning not rebuking them about religious leaders who blindly taught as truth what was false, as good news what was bad news. They corrupted God’s message from Jesus until it became an all-pervasive and blind unbelief, and like leaven, invaded everything. Beware of that, Jesus meant.
Since it’s easy to think literally and miss the symbolic lessons in Jesus’ teaching (we still do it today), we too need to think and heed Jesus’ warning to beware of false teachers who claim to be from God, but aren’t, a warning Jesus often repeated urging us to THINK. We need to take him seriously
False teachers abound and it’s up to us to be thoughtful and discerning and reject their teachings.
Respond in Prayer
Lord Jesus, give me a discerning mind so that I think beyond literal interpretations to the core of your deep words and see the truth. Amen.
Live Obediently. Watch out and think.
 The first time was in Matthew 12:39.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.