The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation 
"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod"

Scripture:  Mark 8:14-21

14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." 16 And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread." 17 And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." 20 "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." 21 And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

Meditation: Do you allow anxiety or fear to keep you from trusting in God's provision for your life?  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Ask God to flood your heart with his love and to increase your faith in his provident care for you.  The apostles worried because they forgot to bring bread for their trip. And that was right after Jesus miraculously fed four thousand people! How easy it is to forget what God has already done for us and to doubt what he promises to do as well. Jesus cautioned the disciples to beware of bread that corrupts, such as the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.  To the Jew leaven was a sign of evil.  It was a piece of dough from left-over bread which fermented.  Fermentation was associated with putrefaction.  Jesus warned his disciples to avoid the way of the Pharisees and of Herod who sought their own counsels rather than the will of God.  As the apostles continued to worry about their lack of bread, Jesus reminded them of his miraculous provision of bread in the feeding of the four thousand. He then upbraided them for their lack of trust in God.  Do you not yet understand?  It's easy to get preoccupied with the problems and needs of the present moment and to forget the most important reality of all -- God's abiding presence with us and his abundant provision for our lives as well.  Do you pray with joyful confidence, Father, give us this day our daily bread?

"Lord, you alone can sustain me with your life-giving Word and Spirit.  Give me joy and strength to serve you always and help me to turn away from the leaven of sin and worldliness which brings corruption and death."

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 (c) 2000 Don Schwager