Beware of the leavening
of the Pharisees

by Dave Havir

BIG SANDY, Texas -- What a wonderful time of the year. Recently disciples of Jesus Christ commemorated the death of the Lord -- with the New Testament symbols given to us by Christ on the night He was betrayed.

How many years have you commemorated with those symbols?

I have had the opportunity for 43 years, and I realize that many of you have done so for longer than that. What a blessing.

Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).

We partook of the symbols after sundown on Sunday night.

We meditated about His suffering until His death at 3 p.m. on Monday.

Then we had the opportunity to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread.

During those days, we reflected upon our response to God's magnificent grace.

Jesus gave a warning

There are many lessons that can be rehearsed during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Jesus taught a lesson in Matthew 16.

Matthew 16:12: "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

To what specific doctrine of Pharisees or Sadducees was Jesus referring? In actuality, Jesus was referring to their general approach toward doctrine.

Using the law as a weapon

A famous example is found in John 8:1-11. Pharisees used the beautiful writings of Moses to condemn a sinner. As you know, their accusation was not really directed at the woman. Their heart was to accuse Christ.

Modern-day Pharisees will use any part of the Bible (including writings in the law of God) to elevate themselves and to accuse other people.

Jesus gave a contrast

Another famous example is a parable by Jesus that is found in Luke 18:9-14. Jesus wanted to show His audience that people should not admire their own obedience or condemn other people. To make His point, Jesus contrasted an obedient Pharisee and a sinning tax collector.

Reason for condemning?

The conclusion of Jesus' parable (verse 14) is educational about the leaven of the Pharisees.

As you consider the following ideas, do you belittle (or condemn) other people as you admire your own obedience?

  • Names of God: Saying the names God and Jesus or saying the names Yahweh and Yeshua.

  • Calendar observances: Keeping the calculated Hebrew calendar or keeping calendars based upon various sightings.

  • The chronology of the Old Testament Passover: Figuring the chronology of the Old Testament Passover on the early 14th of Nisan or on the later 14th of Nisan.

  • The New Testament name of the commemoration of the Lord's death: Calling this event by a variation of the name Passover (New Testament Passover, Christian Passover or Lord's Passover) or calling the commemoration the Lord's Supper.

Important reminders

If you are having trouble getting rid of the leaven of the Pharisees, I would like to remind you of the following.

  • New Testament symbols in remembrance of Jesus Christ (John 13:1-17 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

  • Christ's sign of discipleship (John 13:34-35)

  • Christ's personal prayer (John 17:20-22, 26)

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