Hypocritical Bread

One of the reasons Jesus encountered so much opposition was that He could see many of the religious leaders of His time as they really were – sinners condemned by the law and in need of a Savior – and was not afraid to call them out on it. Once when some scribes and Pharisees were crowding Him, trying to catch Him in an error, Jesus said to His disciples:

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”[1]

Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites, which means someone deceitfully playing a part, using leaven as a metaphor.  Leaven is yeast, but how is yeast like hypocrisy?

Beware the nooks and crannies of the Pharisees! Photo by Debbie Widjaja on Unsplash

Looking at leavened bread and unleavened bread from the outside, they might look the same: they both look like solid loaves of bread.  However, in the process of making bread rise, yeast creates gas bubbles that form holes inside the bread (or “nooks and crannies” as in an old English muffin ad).  So, when you break or cut open a piece of leavened bread, it does not look solid on the inside like it does from the outside.  It is full of holes.  On the other hand, unleavened bread tends to be more solid, such as many flatbreads or tortillas.

Yeast is like hypocrisy because the hypocrite is not the same on the inside as they are on the outside.  The image they carefully craft for themselves fails inspection to One who can see inside.  In the case of the Pharisees, who wanted to appear superior in their knowledge of, and observance of, Jewish law, Jesus revealed that they were “like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”[2]

Later in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 8:1, the apostle Paul wrote: “we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.”  Paul’s warning was that knowledge, if not used in love, puffs us up as yeast puffs up bread, making it full of air bubbles, and hollow inside.  Knowledge can make us proud and inflate our own sense of importance if we aren’t careful.  Love, on the other hand, seeks to build up others in humility.

Therefore, whose who seek to walk in integrity before God, to live an unleavened life, must reach out to the only One who can see all of our inner nooks and crannies, yet still loves us.  Though we are still sinners, by His blood we are justified in His sight and being made whole by our Maker.  We should pray as David prayed in Psalm 139:23 –

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
            Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
            and lead me in the way everlasting!”

He can supply everything we lack.

[1] Luke 12:1b-2
[2] Matthew 23:27

3 thoughts on “Hypocritical Bread

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