This study on yeast will focus on Matthew 16: 5-12, where we get the term “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”. Some background information will help make sense of my study. (See below for other studies on yeast.) I have termed this section of Scripture the third block of teaching about the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:53 to 20:34).
Pharisees and Sadducees
The Sadducees aligned with the priest or kohen. It is probable that Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, was a Sadducee. The Temple was the center of their religious world.
The Pharisees believed more in the priesthood of every father for his family. They still worshipped at the Temple, but the local synagogue was their focus.
Both groups had their own “teachers of the Law”. Many times, the term applies to the Sadducees, but it may have been specific men inside each group.
In the Gospel of Matthew, there are four groups of scriptures that have these two groups in conflict with Jesus-Chapter 9, Chapter 12, Chapters 15-16, and Chapters 19-23. Yes, there are other references. Chapters 15 and 16 come after feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000. (Only Matthew and Mark have the feeding of the 4,000.) Matthew has the Pharisees confronting Jesus after the feeding of the 5,000 with the complaint that the disciples (people) did not wash their hands according to the oral tradition. Where would they find that much water on the mountainside? Matthew 15:12 states that Jesus’ answer offended them. After feeding the 4,000, the Pharisees demanded a “sign from heaven” to prove Jesus was for real. In Chapter 19, they ask about divorce and the same topic comes into play on the Temple Mount before Passover.
In the Bible, there is two yeast. Physical yeast for making bread, beer, and wine (The Egyptians used baked bread to make beer.), and metaphorical yeast, as in Matthew 16:6 and Matthew 13:33. Most of the references to yeast carry a negative connotation however, in 13:33 it refers to the work of the Church of Jesus.
I want to share a yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees from 16:5-7. The disciples forgot bread and then decided Jesus was mad because- “It is because we didn’t”. Yes, this is just part of verse seven, but the principle is there. We didn’t do something; how can we be good enough?
The yeast of the kingdom is different. The best two examples I thought of were Matthew 28:19, “go and make disciples”. My other one is Acts 2: 42- “they devoted themselves to”. You may have others, but these are the two that came to my mind.
Yeast, a Model of Church Growth