Day 26: Mark 8:11-21

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 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?”

Mark 8:11-21 (NIV)

Jesus’ use of the metaphor “the yeast of the Pharisees” went over the heads of his disciples. They thought he was talking about bread. He wasn’t.

In scripture, “yeast” is often used as a metaphor for arrogance and pride. Thus, his warning to “beware the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod” can be read in two ways. It could be he was telling his men to be wary of the machinations of Pharisees and Herod. And it could be that he was warning his disciples to carefully rid the yeast from their own lives.

Our text tells us that Jesus sighed deeply in response to the Pharisees’ request for a sign. In Jesus’ response to his disciples, Mark does not record another deep sigh, but the words of Jesus clearly reveal his frustration with his disciples.  

In essence he was saying: “Why are you worrying about bread?” He went on to remind them of his recent track record regarding bread. He could have added his record of providing bread every day for forty years, but didn’t. Jesus was appealing to his disciples to process his teaching on a level deeper than their physical appetites.

I am sure that he would like to do the same today with you. So, here are a few questions to ponder today.

What might he be saying to you about matters of your heart?

Can you trust him for your physical needs so he can talk to you about your spiritual needs?

Are you listening?

Doug Boquist, Lead Pastor

Brad Taylor