Mark 8:14-21
Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.…

After the great miracle of the feeding of the four thousand, Jesus "entered into a boat with his disciples, and came." - for rest, probably - "into the parts of Dalmanutha. And they forgot to take bread." Had not emphasis been laid on their forgetfulness, we might have supposed they had been led to think "one loaf" enough; for if the Master could feed four thousand with seven loaves, surely he could feed twelve men with one! These men were yet but children in understanding, and Jesus, their watchful Guardian, therefore warns them against the spirit of the men who had recently made the strange demand from him for signs - "the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod," "the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." Strangely enough, they think the reference is to "leaven of bread," which must find an explanation in the engrossment of their minds by the astounding miracle they had witnessed. And yet they see not the thing signified. Jesus, by a brief teaching on the two bread-miracles, draws them away from the "leaven of bread" to "the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducecs." Is this a lesson for all time? Was the leaven of Herod wholly put out of the house with his name? Do Sadducecism and Pharisaism still linger amongst men; and are the disciples of Jesus still exposed to their corrupting influence? It is but too true that these questions must be answered by one affirmative. Herod is described as "a frivolous, voluptuous, unprincipled man." His name symbolizes a morally vile life. Readers of the Gospels know well what the word "Pharisee" stands for - "the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." The Sadducees, though less prominent, are not wholly unknown. Their rejection of great truths on no higher authority than their own opinion points at once to the dangerous tampering with revealed truths. These two rivals as schools were one in the evilness of their teaching so aptly alliterated as "unbelieving hypocrisy and hypocritical unbelief." They stood in united opposition to the Lord's Christ. Thus is the Church for all ages warned against evils that threaten the entire strength and the very existence of the life of the Spirit. Those evils are -

I. HEATHENISH SELF-INDULGENCE. Faith grows not in a heart given over to self-indulgence. "The Author and Perfecter of our faith" has made demand, in unmistakable terms, of all who would be his disciples: "Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Evil self-indulgence saps the strength of all faith. The highest evidence of the truth and authority of Christ's teaching is given to the obedient. "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from myself." Evilness of life puts men out of harmony with the truth; and as all disobedience is a denial of authority, it disposes men to desire that its authority may be questioned: while the continuous acknowledgment of the authority of the truth makes disobedience the more guilty. These "hold down the truth in unrighteousness." This spirit will support the second evil, namely -

II. SADDUCEAN SCEPTICISM. If scepticism were a true spirit of inquiry, or even that sensibility of faith that longs to know, and is eager to defend itself from deceit, it were a healthy guard against childish credulity. But if it become a proud self-sufficiency, a resolute resistance and despisal of truths that are apprehended only by faith - truths which by their very nature do not admit of scientific demonstration, or of truths that do not harmonize with preconceived notions - it then stands in the way of all holy and healthy influence from the highest truths that could reach the heart. It is the opposite of the hearing ear, of the childlike teachableness, There is a faith which is wrought in the heart by the truth's own testimony - the belief that "cometh of hearing," the hearing that is hearkening. But yet another danger lies in the path of the followers of Christ. It is -

III. HYPOCRITICAL PRETENTIOUSNESS. Here the truth is acknowledged, but neither the heart nor the life is true to it. It is unfaithfulness, deceit, hypocrisy. It is the vice against which the severest words that escaped the lips of Christ were directed. A "double-minded man is unstable," but a double-faced man is utterly unworthy. He is open to all seductions; he may become the tool of all evil, and all the time hiding the filthiness of his evil heart in a show of righteousness whose deceitfulness reduces it to the lowest grade of evil. Of this leaven all disciples from the earliest hour have been in danger. Even a little may be "hid" in the heart "till all is leavened.'" To how many of the disciples may it be said to-day, "Do ye not understand? ? G.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

WEB: They forgot to take bread; and they didn't have more than one loaf in the boat with them.

Seeking for a Sign
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