The Pharisees Seek A Sign

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Matthew 16

Jesus sat alone, waiting for His disciples. They had gone to buy food, and He was resting. As He sat, a group of Pharisees and Sadducees approached Him.

It was strange to see this group assembled. The Pharisees and Sadducees, though both were groups of Jewish scholars, opposed each other in the application and understanding of the Law of Moses. Usually, these groups would not meet together. For the sake of opposing Jesus Christ, however, they were willing to put aside their differences and unite against Him.

A Sadducee spoke for the group.
“If you are the Christ, show us a sign from heaven,” he said with a sneer as the others chuckled. “True, you have used power that we do not have to multiply bread and to cast out devils. But unless you show us a sign from Heaven, how will we know that you gain your power like Moses, who fed our ancestors with manna from the sky?

Jesus looked at the mocking group, undisturbed by their jeering.

“When it is evening, you look at the sky and say ‘The sky is red, so tomorrow there will be good weather,’ and in the morning you say ‘There will be bad weather today, because the sky is red and dark with clouds,’” He answered them. “Hypocrites, how can you understand the weather but not the signs of the times? Only the wicked and the adulterous ask for signs. You will have no sign, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.”

Without another word or an explanation, He stood and left them. The sign He referred to, of course, was His three days in the belly of the tomb, like Jonas in the whale, and then His resurrection.

Soon He was reunited with the disciples, who had gone to find food. As the disciples sat to eat, they realized that they had forgotten to buy bread.

“Listen, and avoid the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” Jesus said suddenly.

The disciples shifted uncomfortably.

“He’s displeased because we forgot the bread,” one said sheepishly to another.

Jesus overheard, and quickly corrected.

“You of little faith, why do you talk to one other about the missing bread?” He asked wearily. “Don’t you remember how many baskets were left over from the five loaves used to feed five thousand? Or the seven loaves to feed four thousand? How is it that you still do not understand that I was not speaking of bread, but of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees?”

The disciples then understood.

“He means to beware of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, not literal yeast and bread,” one said quietly to another.