Anglican Morning Devotion for 2 July 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?” (Matt 16:5-11; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
How are we to understand this passage? It bears both doctrinal meaning against legalism, as well as an implied meaning of the symbolic use of the element of unleavened bread in the Communion Service.”Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:12) The symbol should bear the nature of that which is symbolized.
Have you wondered why we use the thin unleavened wafers in the Communion Service? It is the same bread as the matzo bread used in the traditional Hebrew Passover service except for the grid stripes and piercings: “and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son,” (Zechariah 12:10) and “and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) The Jews do not realize the significance of these two symbols in their unleavened matzo bread. But their entire Passover Service points directly to Christ as the Lamb of God and the Lamb of the Passover.
In Scripture, leaven almost always represents sin and false doctrine. Most biblical scholars admit that the bread our Lord served in His last supper was unleavened, but insist it doesn’t matter if we use leavened or unleavened bread in the Communion. I disagree. But I know for certain that it is not wrong to use the same symbol of bread our Lord used (unleavened).
But more than the symbolic nature of leaven in bread, our Lord points to the impurities of doctrine added by the legalistic Pharisees. Pure doctrine of the Gospel is not puffed up above its clear meaning. Though it requires obedience to the Law, it nonetheless empowers obedience thereof through the agency of LOVE. Perfect obedience to the Law (an impossibility) is not possible without love (see 1 Cor 13). Love combines grace and mercy to justice under the Law through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
One great error of the ministry is to preach above the understanding of the people. Though the vocabulary may impress, meaning may be lost in obscurity. Our Lord followed a tried and proven approach to teaching of which we termed with the acronym in the military as KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid. The Lord taught in the simplest and most tender of language. Only the presumed sophistication of the Pharisees either did not understand or chose not to understand.
Many of the modern churches of the day have added the same impurity of leaven (false doctrine) to worship. Instead of being the salt and light of the world to bring men to holiness, they have adopted the ways of the world in both preaching and worldly music. Instead of carrying the Gospel into the world, they have brought the ways of the world into the Gospel. Instead of preaching the evils of sin, they have actually adopted sin as a means of pleasing itching ears. They have taken the gold of Egypt and transformed it into a Golden Calf to be worshipped as an idle. These are your modern Pharisees and Sadducees that corrupt reverential worship and truth. You can find these beggars of filthy lucre every early morning hour of TV soliciting phenomenal donations of the widow’s last mite. Solution: prove every word by the Bible itself. As my father taught me, always drink from the spring’s source and never downstream of the herd where the hands and men and feet of beasts have spoiled the waters.
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalms 118:9) and,
“We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)