MembersBeware the Leaven of the Pharisees

An exploration of Matthew 15:29—16:12 and what Jesus really meant by those immortal words

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Bible, Jesus
The leaven of the Pharisees might not mean what you think it means.
Photo: Flash90

Jesus is on the Golan Heights, overlooking the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee. This is a hot, dry, windswept wilderness without shade or greenery. “Where in this desolate place could we find enough bread to feed such a large crowd?” complained the disciples who were following him (vs 33).

Many sick and lame people also followed, trekking up the rugged mountainside in order to “lay at His feet” in hope of relief from their afflictions (vs 30). They went to great lengths to get close to Jesus, and they were not arguing or complaining, “This is too far to go, it’s hot and we have no food,” or, “Why is He making it so difficult for us?”

These are people who know they need help, and are not ashamed to admit it, or do whatever is necessary to get it.

When Jesus sees the desperate crowds gathering around his feet, “his mercies burn within” (vs 32). This phrase describing the Messiah’s response is a Hebrew idiom found in the Old Testament. Mercy, in Hebrew, is rachamim, which...

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