What would you most and least want Jesus to say to his friends about you?

Jesus said to his friends, "Beware the yeast of the Pharisees" (Mark 8, Matthew 16, Luke 12). For years I have puzzled over what he meant. Until today.

I think Jesus was essentially saying two things. One comes from the word "yeast," and the other from the word "beware."


"Yeast"... When Jesus said that the Pharisees had a certain kind of yeast, he was essentially saying that the Pharisees made a difference in that society. They were influential. Other people looked to them for answers. The ethos of the Pharisees permeated the rest of society the way a little yeast permeates a whole batch of dough. The Pharisees had a shared worldview, and it shaped the worldview of many people.

You have a certain yeast too. You make a difference in the lives of others. Your ethos permeates the world around you. Your worldview influences the worldview of others.

The same goes for your family. It has a certain yeast.

And your church. It has a certain yeast too. Its ethos permeates the lives of people who attend and people whose lives are touched by it in one way or another.

To take Jesus seriously means owning that you, your family, your church, and other groups to which you belong have a certain yeast. The question is, what kind of yeast is it?

"Beware"... Jesus said about the Pharisees: "Beware of their yeast." Why? "It is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1). According to Jesus, the Pharisees liked to promote righteousness to the external world, but behind closed doors they practiced the darker arts of judgmentalism, legalism, greed and revenge (Luke 12:2-3). When Jesus said that the Pharisees had the yeast of hypocrisy, he meant that they were subtly influencing the rest of society to take on their hypocrisy. "Put on a good religious face but live as if God isn't watching all the time."

What kind of yeast did Jesus want his followers to have? Hint: it's in John 13:34-35.

Now for the payoff question: what would Jesus tell his friends about your yeast? Beware of it? Tolerate a minimal amount of it? Or get as much of it as possible?

And similarly, what would he tell his friends about your family's yeast? And your church's yeast?

To take Jesus seriously means to settle for only one kind of yeast. It's to do anything to become a person, family, and church that embodies and spreads God's love.

Here's a way to pray: "Father, let my yeast be the yeast of love." Or for a shorter breath prayer you can say all day long, "Father, love through me."

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