Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees
In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Observations and Reflections
Of the many images used by Jesus, the leaven is one of the most severe illusions. This is because leaven is a small ingredient that infiltrates whatever it’s placed in. It can be either nutritional to the body or it can be cancer. The great cancer of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. Like a bread gone bad, it might looks ok on the outside but can be rotten and moldy on the inside. This is why Luke includes this dialog right after Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for accusing Him of being unclean because He had not washed His hands before a meal. The Pharisees were preoccupied with purifying the outside but neglected the inside, which is what God actually cares about.
However, these religious leaders had set themselves up as the gatekeepers between the people and the Lord. Dues to this setup they were not just deceiving themselves but also God’s people. This is an offense Jesus will not stand for. It’s an abuse of power of the worst kind. The people of God are instructed not to fear the Pharisees but to fear the Lord, who reigns supreme over the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
There is a lesson to be learned on what Jesus instructs His followers to trust and to not follow after. He makes it clear that there are those, such as the Pharisees that are living lives of hypocrisy and are not true to their Faith in God. They are simply good at putting on a show for those around them and placing themselves on a religious pedestal. These types of people are not to be trusted, sough after or looked too as an example of what it means to follow after Christ.
Jesus warns about what will eventually come of these people. Their sinful ways will be brought to light and they will be held accountable for how they lived their lives.
Jesus then moves to a word of encouragement and hope. He reminds them of the one whom they can put their full trust in and He says in the light of His imminent death. These Pharisees along with other religious leaders, were going to be responsible for His death. He tells them that even though they are able to physically hurt Him, they need not fear because God is their source of protection and peace. He tells them that man is not a means in which we should tremble and fear, but that we ought to remember we serve a God who is all powerful, loving and in complete control of our lives.