Matthew, Chapter 16
Matt. 16:1 "The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting
desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered
and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather:
for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to
day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern
the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A
wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall
no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left
them, and departed."
The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus and desired him that he
would show them a sign from heaven. The Pharisees were not interested so
much in the sign but that they might have something by which they could
accuse Jesus. If he showed them a sign and it failed to come to pass,
then they could say that he was not a prophet, because the sign had not
come to pass. Furthermore, if he showed them a sign and it came to pass
then they would say that he was not as great a prophet as Moses because
of the abundance of signs that God gave Moses.
The Lord answered the Pharisees and the Sadducees by pointing out to
them that they could discern the weather to come later in the day by
looking at the condition of the sky. Yet they could not discern the
signs of the times. There were many indications of the times set forth
in the Old Testament scriptures. One only had to pay attention to what
the scriptures had to say by the use of the phrase, "In that day…" This
had reference to the time of the coming of Christ. Furthermore, there
had been great numbers of prophecies of the events that had taken place,
were taking place, and would take place at the time Jesus walked on the
earth. Yet the Pharisees and the Sadducees could not discern these
things. As the Lord said to the Father, "I thank thee Father because
thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed
them unto babes." These things were hidden from the self-righteous
Pharisees and from the liberal Sadducees.
The Lord said that an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a
sign. The Pharisees and the Sadducees did not believe they had to follow
or pay attention to anyone who did not show them a sign. They could go
on with their evil and adulterous ways and say that there was no need to
repent because they had not been shown a sign. They were committing
spiritual evil and spiritual adultery against God.
The Lord said that the only sign that would be given them was the sign
of the prophet Jonas. As we have seen earlier, the sign of the prophet
Jonas is that he had been in the belly of the whale for three days and
three nights. Likewise, the Lord would be in the heart of the earth for
three days and three nights. This was the only sign that would be given
to them and it was far greater than any sign that Moses or any other
prophet had ever given. No one before the Lord had ever risen from the
dead by his own power. This sign could only be performed by God himself
and Jesus as the Son of God did this.
Matt. 16:5 "And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had
forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and
beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they
reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith,
why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do
ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five
thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves
of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that
ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that
ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of
bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Leaven is often used in the scriptures to represent evil things:
1. Mark 8:15 "And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the
leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod."
2. Luke 12:1 "In the mean time, when there were gathered together an
innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon
another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of
the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
3. 1 Cor. 5:6 "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little
leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven,
that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our
passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not
with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but
with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
4. Gal. 5:9 "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
From the above we see that leaven represented false doctrine, politics,
hypocrisy, pride, malice, and wickedness. In addition, we note that a
little bit of it pervaded the whole lump.
When the Lord warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and the Sadducees, they thought he was chastening them because
they had forgotten to take bread. The Lord called to their attention how
he had fed the multitudes: 18 "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears,
hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves
among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They
say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how
many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven." It was
not because of a lack of bread that the Lord told the disciples to
beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees for he had fed
great multitudes with very little and he certainly was able to feed the
few disciples with what little bread they may have had.
After the Lord had called this to the disciples' attention, then they
understood that they should beware of the doctrine (false teachings) of
the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The same is true today. Most of the
religious people of the world today would very easily fit into one of
these two camps (Pharisees or Sadducees) and their teachings would very
closely parallel the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The
false teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees are leaven to the
true doctrine of God and when mixed with the true word of God it
completely pollutes the truth. We are to keep the true word of God pure
and not mix it with the false doctrines and practices of the Pharisees
and the Sadducees.