Jesus Scolds His Disciples
February 15, 2011
Have you sometimes wondered why it took so long for the disciples to understand who Jesus really was? How, in spite of living with him for months on end, they still didn’t change their assumptions and prejudices? Have you ever asked yourself why Jesus didn’t lose his temper in dealing with them?
In this passage Mark combines a saying about the ‘yeast’ of the Pharisees and Herod with a stern rebuke to the disciples for their lack of faith over the multiplication of the loaves.
The scene takes place in the boat on the lake, after the great miracle of the loaves and fishes. It so happened there was just one loaf of bread among them in the boat, and the disciples felt embarrassed by this oversight. However Jesus uses the bread as an occasion to warn his disciples about the ‘yeast’ of the Pharisees and of Herod.
Yeast is a corrosive element in the dough that leads to fermentation. Jesus points out that both the Pharisees and the Herodians are ‘corrupted’, the one by hypocrisy, the other by power. He tells his disciples not to get corrupted by vain ideas about what the messiah should be, which prevent them from seeing what Jesus was really driving at: a kingdom of truth, justice, inclusiveness, compassion. Despite spending years in his close company, almost all his disciples believed in the illusion that Jesus would show himself one day as a mighty king, not as a suffering servant.
This passage recounts the exasperation the Lord must have felt as he scolded them for worrying that they had no bread!
He says, "Why do you talk about having no bread?
Have you no inkling yet? Are your minds closed?
You have eyes: can you not see?
You have ears: can you not hear?
Have you forgotten, when I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets did you collect?
When I broke the seven loaves among four thousand, how many basketfuls of scraps did you pick up?
Do you still not understand?"
Aren’t we often just like the disciples? We stay fixated on one issue and forget all that the Lord has done for us.