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. Mat. 16:5-12
Jesus was always thinking and talking in the Spirit. At no one time did Jesus think to talk to His disciples (as a teaching) about earthly bread. But His disciples were on an altogether different algorithm. They thought, talked and acted in the flesh. Just like us. Ever noticed how worldly situations get us down so quickly? When we are short of something like money, food or clothing, we carry that long face. Bur these things are temporal.
But we are to walk in the Spirit! That is which is eternal. And herein we are going to see what the spiritual life is.
Verse 12 establishes that Jesus’s disciples finally caught on to what He was trying to tell them, thank God. He was warning them to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now, that word, “doctrine”, is central to Jesus’s teaching here. Was He talking of a teaching per se? A teaching without the Spirit produces form. Form is what we portray on the outside. Without the life of the Spirit in you, you appear holy, but you are not holy. In fact, you do everything on the outside to appear holy. But you are not so on the inside. You build spiritual castles in the air, so to speak. And many great Christian denominations in the world are that way. So, unfortunately, are the majority of Christian lives.
So, was Jesus talking about a teaching? Hardly. On the contrary, Jesus was talking about a way of life. He was warning His disciples to beware of living an empty ‘Christian’ life. In fact, St. Luke put it more clearly in Luke 12:1-5:
“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. 2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”
Form is what we portray before men; reality is what we carry before God. And, with God, without reality is hypocrisy. But reality is repentance. And living a life of repentance is living a life where I am daily desiring and striving to put off the works of the flesh in my life. The Pharisees had the best form of worship, but they harbored every kind of evil in their hearts, including murder.
True repentance means living a life that fears God more than men. It does not really matter what form I worship God in. What counts with regard to eternal life is the heart life that I live before God.
Jesus said, “Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell”.
[“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” – 2 Chron. 7:14]