Legalistic, Liberal, Lawless
April 7, 2021
Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 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 (Matthew 16:6-12).
King Solomon was right when he observed, All things are full of labor; man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:8-9).
Jesus and His disciples had taken their leave from the Pharisees and Sadducees and sailed eastward across the Sea of Galilee to the ancient tribal land of Dan in the northernmost part of Israel. Although the land belonged to the Jews, it was a godless place and occupied more by Gentiles than Jews. More and more Jesus desired to spend time in the company of His disciples and away from the crowds that clamored for signs and miracles. His time was growing short. In a few months He would be crucified.
While the disciples were kicking themselves for not making provision (food) for their journey, Jesus was focused on preparing them for what lay ahead - the poison of the elders and kings of Israel. The disciples would not only have to protect themselves from the deadly doctrine of the legalists, liberals, and lawless leaders of the Jews, they would also be entrusted to continue the work of the Kingdom in Jesus’ absence. At this point they were far from being ready.
It cannot be stressed enough that Jesus repeated His warning regarding the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and kings. That warning still holds even though it goes, in large part, unheeded today. Legalism and liberalism have become cankers in the modern Christian church. The fungus of political activism, empty philosophy, social relativism, materialism, etc. has so infiltrated the church’s mission and message that the Gospel is dying out. Solomon was right, there is nothing new under the sun.
“Lord Jesus, forgive us for not paying attention to Your warnings. Open our spiritual eyes and ears and hearts to Your Gospel once again. Breathe Your Holy Spirit afresh and anew upon us that the fire of His spiritual power will consume us inwardly and compel us outwardly to minister Your truth to a spiritually dying generation. To Your praise and glory I ask, Amen.”