“… Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6).
In what context did the speak the words? The Scriptures provide the following account, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said to them, O you of little faith, why reason you among yourselves, because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 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” (Matthew 16:1-12).
In this record of the Bible, we can clearly see that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. The Pharisees and the Sadducees, as we all know, were the high-level people in the church at that time, but why did the Lord Jesus teach His disciples to beware of them? Let’s come back to the age of the Lord Jesus’ work and take a look at what they had done.
When working in the world of man, the Lord Jesus, with the intention of letting man better know Him and accept His redemption, made the blind see, the lame walk, the demon-possessed healed, even the dead raised, and so on. He performed many miracles. At that time, the Jewish people enjoyed a lot of grace and blessings from Him and saw a great many of His wondrous deeds, so they followed Him and listened to His preaching. While those Pharisees and Sadducees, seeing many people follow the Lord Jesus, wished to still keep their positions and jobs. Therefore, they continuously fabricated lots of rumors against the Lord Jesus and slandered and condemned Him. However, the foolish Jewish people, after hearing the rumors, had no discernment and couldn’t maintain a firm stance. They followed the Pharisees and the Sadducees to deny and judge Him. In consequence, there were overwhelming claims of condemnation of the Lord Jesus in the whole Judaism. Under that background, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6).
The disciples of the Lord Jesus, from His work and word, recognized that He was the Messiah who had been predicted to come; they believed that His ability to heal the sick and cast out demons was from God’s authority; they saw through various fallacies and rumors of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and followed the Lord Jesus steadfastly. While the Jewish people, because of being deceived by the rumors of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, followed them to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross, becoming those who resisted and condemned God. In the end, the entire nation suffered the destruction.
The Bible has already prophesied, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie” (Revelation 22:12-15). From these verses, we can learn that many things like making up lies will still happen when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days. Then how should we beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees in order not to follow in the footsteps of the Jewish people? This is the truth that every brother and sister who has sincerely been expecting the Lord’s return should understand.