Mark 8:15 And [Jesus] cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
A typical bread recipe calls for one quarter ounce of yeast. It also can call for up to seven cups of flour. That is an incredible ratio of yeast to flour to provide rising. A little bit truly goes a long way.
That’s true for so many aspects of our existence. For some people, addiction can happen after the first use of certain substances like nicotine or harder drugs. A little bit goes a long way to influencing a person’s life and behavior. Pornography has the same effect and probably happens faster. Images impress themselves on the brain and the neuro pathways are rewired. Gossip can be addicting. Almost anything you can think of can become a problem from just a small taste.
Jesus warns sternly using two verbs that have different aspects of the word “see”. Look to it and see. Pay attention to what you see. Watch out. This is a dangerous road. The leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of the Herods are a slippery, enticing slope. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that the leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. That is they say one thing in public and do another in private. It is a worthy warning as it is easy to fall into that trap with anything. The addictions that I mentioned above are examples of things done in the dark and not talked about in the light. That’s where they get their power. By remaining concealed, they control the addicted.
The leaven of the Herods would have been power and earthly gain. Clearly this hasn’t changed. A little bit of power goes to your head and earthly gain quickly becomes an obsession or a driver. Jesus warns that to give in to this is a bad thing. His disciples weren’t to be guided by earthly gain. Beware of the lure of materialism and power.
We know that a little goes a long way, in both good and bad ways. There was a song we used to sing in Sunday School, “Be careful little eyes what you see..” It had a ring of truth though it was probably a little scary and painted God out to be kind of like Santa. But it’s still a good warning for us. We need reminders every so often to be careful what we get ourselves into. Be careful which groups we join or what we allow to influence our thoughts and behaviors. My friends, watch out. The slopes are slippery in either direction.
Dear Jesus, help us to keep our eyes open and our senses tuned to the things that influence us. Strengthen our faith by Your Holy Spirit so that we wouldn’t give in to those things that negatively control our hearts. Let Your Word once again be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Amen.