Matthew 16:5-12 (The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees)

Mat 16:5-7       What warning did Jesus’ give the disciples in Mat 16:6?  What prompted Jesus to give the warning?  See Mat 16:1-4.  What previous run-ins with the religious leaders had Jesus also had?  See Mat 15:1-2, 12:1-2.  Did Jesus’ conversation with the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees take place in the boat or after they had landed on “the other side”?  See Mar 8:14 and note that the Greek word translated “came” in Mat 16:5 may also be translated “went”.  Where on “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee were they headed?  Cf. Mar 8:22.  What did the disciples suppose had prompted Jesus to give the warning, and why?  See Mat 16:5,7.  What might the fact that they had forgotten to take bread indicate about the haste with which they left the “region of Magadan” to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee?  Why might that have been?  See again Mat 16:4, 15:21, and Mar 7:31.  Do we get the impression that Jesus is deliberately avoiding, even fleeing away from the religious leaders of the Jews?  See Mat 16:13 and note that Caesarea Philippi is far north of and removed from Galilee; cf. Mat 10:23.  What did Jesus mean by the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Sadducees?  See Mat 16:12.  Was it only in regard to the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees that He warned them?  Cf. Mar 8:15.  What did the “leaven” of Herod have to do with the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Sadducees?  I.e., the Herods were despised by the Jews as Roman puppets and political opponents of both the Pharisees and Sadducees; what “teaching” (Mat 16:12) then did they all have in common that Jesus was warning His disciples to beware of?  See Mat 14:1-10, Joh 11:47-50, Mat 21:45-46, 22:15-16,23; cf. Mat 10:16-17.  What does Luke say is the leaven of the Pharisees?  See Luk 12:1.  What is the relationship between hypocrisy and expedience?  Do you think Christians today also need to beware of the hypocrisy and expedience of religious and political leaders of whatever denomination or persuasion?  Why is that?  See Joh 12:43, 2Co 4:2-4, 11:13-15, Rev 17:1-6, 18:2-4.  Do they need to beware only being the victim of such expedience, or beware also the deception of worldly-mindedness that like leaven will so completely and subtly work its way through those whose faith is not sincere that they will justify such expedience as service to God as even the high priest did in Joh 11:50?  Cf. Joh 16:2.  In what ways has such worldly-mindedness also permeated much of the church today?  Think: how much are ministers willing to compromise in order to not offend a generous tither and risk not being paid or being able to make the payment on their building?  What things are churches unwilling to voice for fear of losing their tax exempt status?

Mat 16:7-12        In what two-fold way were the disciples totally deficient in their understanding of what Jesus was telling them?  Did they comprehend the manifold dangers of the worldly-mindedness exemplified by the religious and political leaders that He was warning them about?  Besides completely missing His point, what did their own carnal-mindedness lead them to suppose He was talking about?  Why was it especially grievous that they supposed what He was saying was related to their having forgotten to take along bread?  How much bread did they have between them?  See Mar 8:14.  How many had Jesus recently fed with 5 loaves on one occasion, and 7 loaves on another occasion?  Should they then have been concerned that they had only one loaf in the boat with them, as if it might not be enough?  In reading about this event in hindsight we are amazed at how the disciples could have been so dense; what word does Jesus repeat in Mat 16:9 and 11 that emphasizes their dullness?  What flurry of questions does He ask to elucidate to them their lack of understanding?  Cf. Mar 8:17-21.  What do His questions indicate about His exasperation at their spiritual stupor?   Is it possible that we are equally dense and “of little faith” (Mat 16:8) about the more important spiritual truths the Lord speaks to us because of our own carnal-mindedness and pre-occupation with the things of this world that ought not to concern us as much?  What might such things be?  For example, in spite of the multitude of healing incidents described in Scripture, how occupied are we with concerns about healthcare?  Like the disciples we accept that God is able to heal us, just as they did that He was able to provide them bread; but do the thoughts we think, our conversation, and how we actually conduct our lives reflect an understanding that not only is He able, but He will as necessary, and if He doesn’t, He has a reason for it, and it is for our good, and His grace is sufficient (2Co 12:8-10)?  Does such a faith absolve us from acting responsibly and wisely to provide for our daily needs and avoid that which is unprofitable or defiles the flesh so as to pollute our bodies that are a holy temple of the Lord?  Cf. 1Th 4:11-12, 2Th 3:6-12; 1Co 10:23, 6:12-13,19-20.  Can we expect God to provide for our needs and give us life and health and peace and joy if we will not walk in His ways and obey His commandments, which are the terms of the covenant He has made with us through the blood of His own Son?  Recall Deut 28:1-29:1 and see Psa 18:41, 66:18, Pro 1:20-33, 5:14, Isa 1:10-15, 59:1-2, Jer 11:1-14, 14:10-12, Eze 8:18, Mic 3:4, Zec 7:12-13, Joh 9:31, etc….

Did the disciples finally understand about the leaven Jesus was warning them about?  See Mat 16:12.  Do we understand the need to likewise beware the leaven of a worldly, double-minded faith?  What does James say such a man can expect to receive from God?  See Jam 1:7-8.

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