I am writing this article on the morning of England’s World Cup quarter final match against Sweden. Will football still be “coming home” this afternoon?! One thing my father used to say about football is that the difference between winning and losing, between scoring a goal and hitting the post, is often only a matter of a few inches.
We will be studying Matthew 16v1-12 this morning and, in particular, Jesus’ warning to be on our “guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (v11). Yeast is, of course, a small ingredient in bread making yet I understand that it can leaven 250 times its own weight in flour and is, therefore, extremely powerful. Jesus elsewhere favourably compares the kingdom of heaven to yeast that is mixed into a large amount of flour until it works through the dough (Matthew 13v33). However, the Bible generally tends to use yeast as a negative picture for the insidious, spreading, corrupting nature of sin.
Similar Biblical illustrations of the potential harmful effects of small things include dead flies giving perfume a bad smell (Ecclesiastes 10v1) – the writer then comparing this to a little folly (or foolishness) outweighing wisdom and honour – and little foxes ruining the vineyards (Song of Songs 2v15) – presumably some apparently small issues having the potential to threaten the loving relationship between the Lover and his Beloved.
Is there any yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees within us? We will consider applications of Jesus’ warning this morning but one primary reference is surely to unbelief. The wonderful converse to this is just a few verses further on in Matthew 17v20: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Peace and Grace