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Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?
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." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
Jesus is so full of patience and mercy. The disciples are having trouble understanding what is going on, and Jesus just keeps working with them to get it. He keeps on going with them because they aren't stubborn-unbelieving like the people of Nazareth and they aren't skeptical-unbelieving like the Pharisees.
When Jesus tells them to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod, He uses a word that is the yeast that goes into bread to fluff it up. Leaven could be yeast or baking soda, but it is always used to fluff up things.
Before the Jewish Passover meal, a woman would clean up her whole house, and the man of the house would give it a final inspection to make sure there weren't any crumbs under a couch or somewhere. They were 'cleaning the leaven' out of the entire house so it would be clean for the Passover. Leaven would go on to become a symbol that God would use to represent sin in His people.
The leaven of the Pharisees and Herod is tied to their power. Both of these parties were holding onto their power so tight that they weren't open to hear Jesus. They had their own structure and their own ways and didn't want to hear anything from Jesus, miracles or not.
"Beware of the leaven" is about being hard-hearted and holding onto power. When the disciples don't get it, Jesus asks them if their hearts have been hardened. He reminds
We need the daily encouragement and grace from Jesus to keep away from the leaven of the Pharisees. Every day we are tempted to forget that Jesus provides us with everything we need. Every day we can steer towards worrying about tomorrow and whether we'll have enough bread.
Every day, Jesus warns us to beware of the leaven of independence and self-reliance. He is here to take care of us and to teach us and will guide whatever soft and open heart He can find.