by Dr. Samuel Lee   04/26/2000     0 reads



Matthew 16:5-12

Key Verse: 16:6

  "'Be careful,' Jesus said to them. 'Be on your guard

  against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"


1. Review the conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees and Sadducees

in verses 1-4.  Where did Jesus and his disciples go afterward?  What

had they been doing earlier?

2. Read verses 5-6. What warning did Jesus give his disciples?  What do you

know about the origin, history and present state of the Pharisees? The

Sadducees? (See Jude 12-16 for comments on corrupt religious leaders.)

3. Read verses 6-7.  What is yeast and how does it function in bread?  What

did the disciples discuss and what conclusion did they reach? Why? (7)

4. Read verses 8-11a. Why did Jesus rebuke them?  What reveals their lack

of faith?  Of what did Jesus remind them? Why is it important to remember?

5. What did the disciples finally realize about Jesus' warning?  Why is

influence like yeast?  Can you think of examples of bad influence? Of good

influence?  Think about Jesus' own example (Jn 1:14; Lk 21:37,38; Lk





Matthew 16:5-12

Key Verse: 16:6

  "'Be careful,' Jesus said to them. 'Be on your guard

  against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"

In today's passage Jesus teaches his disciples about the influence of the

Pharisees and Sadducees. There is good influence. There is also bad

influence. Influence is invisible. So, many people do as their sinful

desire directs, thinking, "Nobody sees me." However, they become men of

bad influence. In this lesson Jesus teaches us the importance of

influence. May God give you an open heart to hear what Jesus has to say.

May one word of God convict your heart so you may be a man of good


First, Jesus said, "Be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees and

Sadducees" (5-6). In Jesus' time the Pharisees and Sadducees were the

most prominent societists of Judaism. The Pharisees' origin was in the

most strict sect of the Jews (Ac 26:5). People generally say their origin

came out of the Maccabean revolt (165 B.C.). But when we study the Bible,

we find that when the Babylonian captivity was over the Jewish people

found the Scriptures and read them and wanted to live in God's way. They

came to know that they were chosen people. They studied the Bible from

early morning to late night every day for a long time. At that time Ezra

and Nehemiah were the leaders of the community. Many Jewish people

repented before God of their godless lives in a foreign country. Still,

there were men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Amnon and

Moab. So half of their children could not speak their own language. They

also could not read the Scriptures. Then Nehemiah rebuked them and called

curses down on them and beat some of the men and pulled out their hair.

In Nehemiah 13:25 he said, "I made them take an oath in God's name and

said: 'You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor

are you to take their daughters in marriage....'" Nehemiah rebuked them

in such a terrible way not because of their intermarriage, but because

they could not read the Scriptures, so they did not know God Almighty.

Nehemiah prayed in Nehemiah 13:29, "Remember them, O my God, because they

defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the

Levites." Nehemiah was most sorry that they had abandoned their mission

as a royal priesthood and a holy nation and lived like animals. From

Nehemiah's time on, the most excellent and devout people gathered and

studied the Bible until they mastered the Bible as the Bible. They also

lived up to the teachings of the Bible. Then they were qualified to be

Pharisees. Therefore, the Pharisees were not always as bad as we read

about in the New Testament. At the beginning, their endeavor to come back

to God and master the Bible and worship and serve God was indeed

remarkable. But as time passed by, they gradually became habitual. What

was worse, they made use of the precious practice of the law of God, and

what they called the law of God turned out to be their traditions.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and

with all your soul and with all your strength." But they did not keep the

law of God.

In Jesus' time, in order to become a Pharisee, one had to memorize all

kinds of laws and regulations, especially detailed and mountain-like

traditions, from the age of twelve. But it was for the sake of passing

the test of becoming Pharisees, not to become a royal priesthood and a

holy nation. As their motive in becoming Pharisees became corrupt, their

practice of law and regulations was not right, but diabolic.

The Sadducees were the same as the Pharisees. But their view of life was

different. They were ungodly, political, earthbound and pleasure-seeking.

It is irony that they were unspiritual people, but historically they

obtained the position of the high priesthood.

Second, Jesus' disciples' oblivion (7-10). Not long before, Jesus had

healed various kinds of sick people. And out of his great compassion, he

fed them. Their number was four thousand. After that Jesus was demanded

by the Pharisees to perform a miraculous sign. Jesus rebuked them that

they had the sense of the weather forecast, but did not have spiritual

insight. After that Jesus and his company crossed the lake. On the way

the disciples realized that they didn't bring the bread that was left

over after feeding the four thousand. Their stomachs were growling,

making many noises. Finally they were so worried about bread that to them

everything sounded like "bread." When Jesus said to them, "Be careful. Be

on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees," it

meant, "Be careful of the Pharisees' and Sadducees' bad influence." But

they didn't understand exactly what Jesus told them. So they had a

conference for quite a long time and came to a conclusion that Jesus said

this to them because they did not bring any bread. Jesus rebuked them in

verse 8. It says, "Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, 'You of little

faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?'"

Jesus was sorry that whatever he said, they understood that he was

talking about bread. So he rebuked them again in verses 9-10. "Do you

still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five

thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for

the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?" Jesus reminded

them that not many days before he fed five thousand people with five

loaves and two fish. Again, Jesus reminded them that he fed four thousand

people with seven loaves and several fish. So they didn't have to worry

about bread. But they were men of little faith. So they were worrying

about bread. Whatever they heard, it sounded like someone was talking

about bread. Jesus talked about the bad influence of the Pharisees and

Sadducees. But they understood that Jesus was talking about bread.

After they were rebuked severely, they understood that he was not telling

them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teachings

of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Third, the bad influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Their traditions

came from the law of God. The main point of their tradition was how to

live according to the teachings of the word of God. But they made use of

these traditions to make money. They had many ritual ceremonies. A

typical one was the Passover ceremony. At that time all the people of

Judah had to go up to Jerusalem and have a cleansing ceremony and a

sacrifice ceremony, and finally they were pronounced "clean." In order to

do that, poor people had to bring a pair of doves or two young pigeons.

Rich people brought many bundles of money; they offered one bundle at one

ceremony and another bundle at another ceremony, until the Passover ended

with the lighting ceremony. Not only so, but the Pharisees and Sadducees

also took a lot of money from each family. For example, when a baby was

born he had to be ordained by the priest or Rabbi. The ordination fee was

pretty expensive. When a couple was engaged and one year had

passed-during which they kept themselves clean-and they were going to

marry, then they had to be ordained by the priest or Rabbi. For this,

they had to pay a fee. Especially the wedding fee was very expensive. To

get a job, people had to have the recommendation of the priest or Rabbi.

For a recommendation they had to bring money. If people wanted to be

exempted from army duty, they had to get a special letter from the priest

or Rabbi. For this, they had to pay money. When someone died, he had to

have last rites. Otherwise, he was known to have gone to purgatory or to

hell. So his relatives had to pay a fee to have the confidence that the

deceased went to heaven.

They were chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. God chose

them and set them apart to bear much fruit. They were chosen to take care

of God's flock of sheep. But they squeezed God's flock of sheep until

they lost the joy of life to live in the world. So Jude rebukes the

Pharisees and Sadducees vehemently in Jude 12-13. It says, "These men are

blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest

qualm-shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain,

blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted-twice

dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering

stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever." The Jewish

leaders were chosen to take care of God's suffering sheep under the Roman

occupation. But they did not take care of God's sheep. Rather they

harassed God's flock of sheep to the maximum degree. Here, their bad

influence is that they did not become good shepherds, but robbers. If

they were ordinary people, being robbers would not mean much. But they

were chosen people. They became robbers instead of being shepherds of

God's flock. It was indeed evil and their influence was bad.

These days many of God's servants are like the Jewish leaders. They do

not work to take care of God's sheep. They work to make a beautiful

church building by squeezing money from God's children. They are a bad

influence. One of the big churches invited tenor singer Pavarotti and

enjoyed his singing at their Christmas worship service. But they didn't

say a word about the newborn baby Jesus. It is indeed a bad influence,

not because they had a concert at Christmas, but because they did not

feed the flock of God's sheep with the living word of God welling up to

eternal life and they did not introduce who Jesus really is. So in Jude

14-15, Enoch condemns these hypocrites recklessly. He says, "See, the

Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge

everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they

have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners

have spoken against him."The doom of hypocrites is horrible. We must not

remain as hypocrites.

Fourth, men and women of good influence. Influence is invisible, but all

people can see the spiritual condition of any person. One of the

shepherds in Korea worked hard. So he thought it would be okay even if he

went to graduate school to study for three years, emptying his pasture.

But as a result, he became a bad influence. Of course, we cannot decide

who is a good influence and who is a bad influence. But even a dummy

sheep can know who is a good influence and who is a bad influence.

As for influence, we cannot but talk about Jesus. Jesus worked only three

years for his earthly messianic ministry. But his influence continues

many centuries. It was because he renounced his glory and was humbly laid

in a manger of a stable. According to John 1:14, his incarnation is full

of grace and truth. The grace and truth of incarnation moves the heart of

any person, whether he is good or bad.

Jesus' earthly messianic ministry was mainly healing the sick and

preaching the kingdom of God, and as time permitted he trained his

disciples, mostly through common life together. He did not train his

disciples by giving special lectures in a gorgeous lecture hall. It was

discipleship training through his common life together with his

disciples. In short, his discipleship training was through his influence


When Jesus came to Jerusalem for the last time to become the Paschal

Lamb, he was bracing himself because of the upcoming crucifixion. But he

woke up early in the morning and at the temple area taught the Bible to

those who came to him (Lk 21:37,38). It is indeed the amazing work of

God. It is indeed endlessly beautiful forever. Finally he was crucified

on the cross. Beneath the cross were Mary the mother of Jesus, many other

Marys and other women, crying endlessly in their deep sorrow. But Jesus

did not come down from the cross to save himself or to comfort the crying

women. Rather, he stayed on the cross. On the spur of the moment, a Roman

soldier hurled his spear into Jesus' side. Much blood and water gushed

out. Jesus cried, not for himself, but for the sin of the world. At the

moment he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they

are doing" (Lk 23:34a).

Finally, as he had promised, Jesus was raised from the dead on the third

day. But he did not demonstrate his power and authority as the Risen

Christ. Rather, he visited despaired Peter and put on an apron and cooked

a delicious breakfast and gave it to Peter and the others. Then their

eyes were brightened and they could see the Risen Jesus. At the moment,

the love of God circulated from their hearts to their souls and they were

filled with a living hope in God's house, the kingdom of God. In quantity

Jesus did not do much. But his quality of influence is matchless. His

influence is nothing but divine influence. We Christians must all learn

Jesus' influence.

Dr. Joseph Chung does not speak much. But after night shift work he

sleeps just one hour and then comes out to take care of God's sheep under

his care. It is not for one or two days that he has done so, but for so

many years. Dr. John Jun is a man of embracing grace. He gives to any

patient only aspirin. Anyway we can say that they were all treated. Dr.

Jim Rabchuk was very popular among women internationally, but he was not

a good influence to them. Since Jesus came to his heart he became a man

of good influence. So he never chases sheep; rather, many sheep come to

study the Bible with him because he is known as a man of influence. Dr.

Helen was known as a woman of no influence. But now people hang around

her to be loved by her. She received many invitations from renowned

universities for a professor's position. But she gave them all up. It was

not she who did that, but God who influenced her to become a blessing.

Shepherdess Yvonne Timlin was a person who wanted to be the first woman

president of the United States. But God worked in her mightily; her

ambition disappeared and Jesus' influence came into her heart. She has

been faithfully taking care of Kristin St. Lawrence and many others.

Today we studied Jesus teaching his disciples about influence. Influence

is the best education. We want to educate our children as excellent and

promising children. But without our influence they cannot be good

children. We know about the end of the Roman Empire. They wanted to

maintain the best empire with military power. But it was impossible

because they were all corrupt people. But men and women of influence from

among Christians conquered the Roman Empire and made it a Christian

nation. This happened not only in the Roman Empire, but in so many other

nations as well. May God make us men and women of good influence. May God

help us get out of being men and women of bad influence. Lord, we ask

your mercy.