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The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.” And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
It’s easy to assume that those who use the most spiritual-sounding language or who follow the most burdensome rules must be the most dedicated Christians, in other words, the kind of men and women to whom we should listen and in whom we should trust. Of course, the ability to sound and to look religious doesn’t necessarily point to a sincere trust in and desire to follow Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, it may mean the exact opposite, a lot like I lawyer I knew about thirty-five years ago. You see, he really didn’t have a very good reputation, and he struggled to get and to keep clients. And yet when you walked into his office, which was above a five and dime, the wall behind his desk was covered with framed certificates, I guess intended to impress any person who hadn’t heard of him or his reputation. And I’ve got to tell you, they were impressive, that is until you actually read them. You see, they were certificates that kids get when they move from one grade to another. And so he’d framed his “graduation” from first to second grade.
And so, when we see men and women who feel the need to talk about how spiritual they are and who use all the right religious jargon and who love to impose on themselves and others arbitrary religious rules that actually make little or no sense, they may be modern day Pharisees and Sadducees, people who viewed words and Law as more important than works and love. You see, before we’re taken in by their teachings, we’d better watch out.