Jesus said the yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. This is worse than their being hypocrites. The warning is beware their stuff doesn’t get inside you – in your head or in your heart. Once in it’s like yeast (leaven) in bread. It permeates, infuses, and saturates. It’s necessary to realize we are all being yeasted by someone or someones. I’m attempting to yeast you at this very moment. It’s how we learn and change. All yeasting is not bad. Jesus’ warning to all is Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 12

Yeast of the Pharisees – Luke 12:1-9

By Delbert Young

yeast of the Pharisees

Sermon video

audio

Yeast of the Pharisees – Luke 12:1-9

Scriptures: Luke 12:1; Luke 11:53-54; Luke 12:2-3; Luke 12:4-5; Luke 12:6-7; Luke 12:8-10

The section begins a lengthy discourse going through Luke 13:9 primarily concerned with “Pharisaicalism,” Judaism, and the dangers of hypocrisy. I don’t know if any of us realize the danger of hypocrisy.

Luke 12:1 MEANWHILE, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were TRAMPLING ON ONE ANOTHER, Jesus began to speak FIRST TO HIS DISCIPLES, saying: “BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST THE YEAST OF THE PHARISEES, WHICH IS HYPOCRISY.”

Disciples can be “yeasted” (leavened) with hypocrisy and messed up. Meanwhile is referencing while Jesus was at the Pharisee’s house to eat an enormous crowd of many thousands gathered, so what he is about to say is motivated by what just happened. Towns and villages were emptying as towns only consisted of maybe a hundred people. No one drew people like Jesus. This is still true today two-thousand years later. Jesus was the biggest event in all of Israel. With no microphones or amplifiers, people had to get close to hear and see and were trampling on one another. It was a mob scene. This was the setting and will be into chapter 13.

Recall, the dinner at the Pharisee’s house didn’t go well. Jesus blasted the religious terrorists Pharisees and the experts of the law with six “woes.” The verses prior to this verse tell us how the dinner ended.

 Luke 11:53-54 When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to CATCH HIM in something he might say.

The word “catch” means to hunt and ambush. They’re coming after Jesus like a wild animal to attack him. Jesus, well aware of this, began to speak first to his disciples warning and preparing them. It’s the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that will do them in.

Jesus didn’t say here the Pharisees were hypocrites, though they were and he will say they are. Jesus said the yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. This is worse than their being hypocrites. The warning is beware their stuff doesn’t get inside you – in your head or in your heart. Once in its like yeast (leaven) in bread. It permeates, infuses, and saturates. It’s necessary to realize we are all being “yeasted” by someone or “someones.” I’m attempting to “yeast” you at this very moment. It’s how we learn and change. All “yeasting” is not bad. Jesus’ warning to all is “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy.”

The word for hypocrisy is hupokrisis {hoop-ok’-ree-sis} – the acting of a stage player. A stage actor would play the role of several people. To make the distinction, the actor wore a different mask for each character. This helped the audience connect and to pull it off well required talent. The Pharisees masked up, play acting their roles as righteous and godly and they were good at it. Jesus called this hypocrisy the yeast of the Pharisees.

There’s something about the words “hypocrite” and “hypocrisy” that stand out. Synonyms like con artist, fake, impostor, phony, two-face, etc. don’t seem as pungent as the word hypocrite. The synonyms are thought of as people in the world, but hypocrite is attached to religion and religious people. It speaks of spiritual deception. The hypocrisy of religion has eternal ramifications and was why Jesus so despised the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. People pay a good stage actor to play with their emotions – laugh, cry, be happy, be sad. The religious actors play with people’s souls and eternity. People pay, but pay with their souls. It is the yeast of the Pharisees.

Jesus warned his disciples. This was more than the twelve. It included the seventy (Luk 10:1) and more disciples in the massive crowd. Jesus directed his comments first to disciples. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ this is for you. Jesus tells us be on our guard against the yeast of religious terrorists. It will mess you up eternally. On the heels of this warning and context, Jesus said…

Luke 12:2-3 There is nothing concealed that will not be DISCLOSED, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

In the context of hypocrisy Jesus said masks of hypocrisy will be ripped off. Jesus gave this statement frequently (Luk 8:17; Mat 10:26; Mar 4:22). So, it’s a kingdom truth we need to grasp. Disclosed is apokalupto {ap-ok-al-oop’-to} – to uncover, lay open, bare, to make known. Hypocrisy comes out. We can play act for a season. God gives time to correct. If we won’t, God will take the mask off. He’s warning his disciples to not teach hypocrisy.

Luke 12:4-5 “I tell you, MY FRIENDS, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you INTO HELL. Yes, I tell you, FEAR HIM.

Can those once friends of Jesus be thrown into hell? Does Jesus want us to fear? Yes! Jesus warned his friends to fear and who to fear. When we are a disciple of Jesus we are his friend. He’s still Lord. Jesus will be your friend, but he is Lord –FEAR HIM.

Jesus knew the religious terrorists were hunting him down. This meant they would also hunt down his friends. The Pharisees could and would kill the body. Jesus told them and us to get our fears prioritized. A time will come when what and who we truly fear will expose hypocrisy and the mask will come off. Be aware.

Who and what do you fear? We tough guys say, “I don’t fear anyone.” We better! Who, or what is at the top of our fear list? You and I can’t accurately relate to fear of religious terrorists, but we fear something. Do you fear death? Illness? Financial failure? Family failure? Your wife? We laugh, but I’ve seen the fear of wives take men out of the kingdom and the same with the fear of husbands. Get your fears prioritized. Make certain we fear the one who can throw us into hell.

As I’ve said, the way any fear is overcome is by a higher fear. We overcome the fear of going to a dentist by the fear of losing our teeth, or the fear of going to a doctor by the fear of being more ill. Every fear you’ve ever overcome is because of a higher more powerful fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Pro 9:10). Fear is prioritized. The Pharisees actually had power to kill people. They killed Jesus and will kill his friends. There is a higher fear – the fear of hell and him who can throw us there. Who’s at the top of your fear list?

Luke 12:6-7 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? YET NOT ONE OF THEM IS FORGOTTEN BY GOD. Indeed, the very hairs of your head ARE ALL NUMBERED. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Small birds including sparrows were netted and used for food. They were numerous and inexpensive – five sparrows for two pennies, so a major food source for the poor. If there was anything you would think God would not concern himself over it would be nearly worthless sparrows, but not one of them is forgotten by God. God concerns himself with everything. If God knows about every sparrow, he knows about you.

God doesn’t only know how many hairs are on your head. He has each hair numbered. With me, there isn’t much to number, but think about this. There are six billion people on the planet both with and without hair and God has every hair numbered. Now that’s being God. The point Jesus makes is the intensity of God’s knowledge and the intensity of God’s concern for each friend of Jesus. You are important to God. I’m important to God.

Luke 12:8-10 “I tell you, whoever ACKNOWLEDGES ME before men, the Son of Man will also ACKNOWLEDGE HIM before THE ANGELS OF GOD. But he who DISOWNS ME before men WILL BE DISOWNED before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Jesus is pretty clear. If we want his help and the assistance of the angels of God, we must acknowledge him. We will talk about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit next time, but I want us to better see what Jesus was doing. He wasn’t giving scattered thoughts about yeast, roof tops, birds, hair, and hell. Jesus knew his disciple friends would be tempted to not acknowledge him, tempted to go back to Judaism and tempted to disown Jesus as the Son of Man. There would be great pressure put on them to deny Jesus. He warned them and told them the consequences as a true friend would. It’s not good to go back on Jesus and is associated with blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It’s what the yeast of the Pharisees will do to people.

Even with us, we are each tempted to not acknowledge Jesus when we should. We find ourselves in situations and sort of “disown” our relationship with Jesus. We are each tempted to go back into sin, or go back to traditional Christianity. Jesus said it’s at those times if you’ll step out there’s a special, special blessing –angels of God.

The term “angels of God” is found six times in the scriptures. Twice here, in Genesis 28:12; 32:1; Luke 12:8, 9; Luke 15:10; and John 1:51. They all speak of opening the supernatural or opening heaven for the work and ministry of angels. Jacob fearing death on a journey saw a stairway, or ladder, into an opened heaven with the angels of God ascending and descending. Assurance came to Jacob that God would be with him (Gen 28:12). Later, as Jacob was again facing his worse fear, his brother Esau, the angels of God supernaturally appeared and went with Jacob protecting him (Gen 32:1). The Prodigal feared coming home to his father, but repented and did. When one sinner moves beyond their fears and doubts and repents the angels of God are notified by Jesus and rejoice (Luk15:10). Our coming to Jesus is a supernatural event involving angels! Jesus told Nathanael he would see supernatural things like the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man (Joh 1:51). Nathanael had to move beyond his doubts and fears and religion. He did. Heaven opened to the supernatural ministry of angels. Nathanael saw things only eleven other men saw.

Jesus verified angelic activity in our lives when we acknowledge him especially in the most fearful and confusing times. I want to encourage you. Where do you need a supernatural move of God in your life? Where do you need heaven to open and angels to ascend and descend? Find someone today to whom you can acknowledge Jesus. Talk to someone today about Jesus. Say the name “Jesus.” Tell someone what he’s done in your life and watch the supernatural happen. Jesus promised he would acknowledge you to the angels of God.

Perhaps you’ve never acknowledged Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or perhaps you’re like the prodigal. You once were a Christ follower, but ran away. How would you like the involvement of the angels of God in your life? Jesus promised he would acknowledge you and put the angels of God to work on your behalf if you will acknowledge him and be on guard of hypocrisy.

Other Related Sermons:

Greed – How to be a Successful Fool – video audio notes Luke 12:10-21

Revelation Chapter 10, Mighty Angel, the Little Book Sweet and Bitter – video audio notes

Revelation Chapter 11, Two Witnesses – sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young