In Mark’s lesson, after Jesus fed the four thousand, some Pharisees asked Jesus for a “sign from heaven,” and Jesus refused to perform a miracle on command. He then got into a boat with the disciples, who were complaining because they had no bread. Jesus warned them to “beware the leaven of the Pharisees,” and they didn’t understand. In the Bible, leaven is often a metaphor for sin. But the disciples were hungry, and they were thinking about real bread, not metaphorical sin. They thought they were being rebuked for not having brought bread.
“Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? . . . When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ ‘Twelve,’ they replied. ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’ They answered, ‘Seven.’ He said to them: ‘Do you still not understand?’”
Actually, Jesus, no. I don’t understand, though Matthew’s additional context (Matthew 15:8-12) helps: “. . . Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not understand? . . . How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees. . . .’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees.”
Okay, now I get it. “I’m not talking about bread! Stop worrying about bread! I’m talking about the sin of the Pharisees.” Their sin is apparently that they demanded physical proof of Jesus’ divinity. We’re supposed to have faith without requiring physical proof.
But why did the Gospel writers put Jesus’ warning against requiring physical proof of his divinity after the feeding stories, which the Gospel writers surely regarded as physical proof of his divinity?
With Matthew’s help, I understand what Jesus was saying, but I don’t blame the disciples for not getting it.
— Lloyd Snook