“Don’t you remember?”, Jesus asks his disciples.
Silence. “It’s not about the bread.” (shaking his head) “Oh, now we get it!”, exclaim the disciples.
Jesus smiles and laughs to himself.
That’s how I like to imagine the conversation went in Matthew 16. It’s kind of an odd passage for Matthew to interject in the middle of his writing, but it shows the human nature of Jesus, with emotions and personality, and an enormous capacity to care about people. He was also God in human form, for no one else could do what Jesus did without fault. He came out of heaven to live among the poor and destitute, the pagan and the wicked. Why? To let people know it’s not just about the bread! There is more to life.
Matthew 16:1-12 ~ The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
The Pharisees and Sadducees approached, and as a test, asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.
He answered them: “When evening comes you say, ‘It will be good weather because the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.
The disciples reached the other shore, and they had forgotten to take bread.
Then Jesus told them, “Watch out and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
And they discussed among themselves, “We didn’t bring any bread.”
Aware of this, Jesus said, “You of little faith! Why are you discussing among yourselves that you do not have bread? Don’t you understand yet? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the 5,000 and how many baskets you collected? Or the seven loaves for the 4,000 and how many large baskets you collected? Why is it you don’t understand that when I told you, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,’ it wasn’t about bread?” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the yeast in bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
This new year, as we get to go another round of life, and experience the joys and challenges in all that we call life, I hope we will remember Jesus’ words, “It’s not about the bread.” (or the money or job or setbacks or even wrongdoings). It’s about life and what is in our hearts, and those things we cherish that cannot be taken away, and about trusting God in good things to come.
Sue McCusker is a writer, Bible teacher, and web developer who loves to share the stories of life, hope, and faith she sees around her every day. She has written for Guideposts and Angels on Earth magazines, and teaches the story of God in women's Bible study.