I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. I would have loved to have been able to watch the conversation that was taking place, to hear the frustration in his voice and see the confusion on their faces.
According to Mark, 9000 men, in addition to women and children, had eaten and been filled by bread that Jesus had created out of practically nothing, but here we are, in the boat with the disciples. They've brought one loaf between them and Jesus is talking about bread.
"Be careful. Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod." Of course he must have been talking about bread. What else has yeast in it? Beer? Wine? It had to be bread. But this was one of those moments where they just didn't get it. It happens. It happened to them, and it happens to us sometimes.
"When I broke the loaves for the 5000, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
"Twelve," they replied.
"And when I broke the seven loaves for the 4000, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"
They answered, "Seven."
He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"
And then he stopped. Not another word about it. He just left them hanging there, scratching their heads, wondering what on earth the one had to do with the other. Jesus could have spoken and filled the boat up with bread for them to eat, one loaf between a dozen or so folks was plenty to eat. They wouldn't be hungry, so this must have been deeper than that.
Jesus was TRYING to teach them about how easy it is to get caught up in the game. The yeast that he was talking about was not the yeast in the loaf they had with them, it was a metaphor. This is one of those moments where I'm glad I'm not a literalist, else I would still be trying to figure out why Jesus wasn't upset that I had only brought one loaf of bread.
The yeast that he was talking about is such a tiny thing, almost imperceptible by itself, but you couple it with other grains of yeast, add a little hot water, mix it into flour and watch what it does. It works its way through the entire batch of dough, changing it from the inside out. That's how it is with the game the world wants us to play, whether it's the Roman Empire, church bureaucracy, or office politics. It begins so imperceptibly small, but before we know it, we are completely consumed.
It starts out as a pat on the back for a job well done, then maybe, "Hey, I need you to do me a favor." Then before we know it we are caught up in something that is way bigger than we are and we don't know how to get free. Jesus is saying, keep an eye out for those things because they're real and they will consume you if you let them. The question then becomes, "How do we avoid it?" The answer is different for every person and every situation.
I wonder if they ever got it. Scripture doesn't say, but part of me wonders how long they sat there, scratching their heads, trying to figure out what he was talking about. Sometimes I wonder why it takes me so long too.
May you hear Christ on a deeper level this week.