As we read through Luke each week there will be two devotions focusing on particular passages. Click here to read past devotions.
Focus Point: Hypocrisy (Luke 12:1-10)
In Luke 12:1, Jesus tells the disciples to “beware the yeast of the Pharisees.” This phrase occurs in all three of of the synoptic gospels: Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:14. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus does not clarify the yeast. In Mark Jesus adds “and Herod” to the warning. In Matthew the disciples realize Jesus is speaking about the Pharisees’ teaching (v12). But only in Luke does Jesus specifically define the yeast, “beware the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy.”
At times the Gospels can read like bullet points of random ideas. But the ideas are connected. In this instance the next passages outline the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. They fear humans more than God (v4-7) and they deny Jesus (v8-10).
What is the connection? The Pharisees who profess living with abandon for God are actually in love with this world. They are steadfast against Jesus because he threatens their power. They are afraid of humanity, because they love this life. In short, what has worked and gives rise to their faith is seeking today’s pleasure rather than God’s.
Connecting to Today: A moment of confession. Hypocrisy is one of my great fears.
Soren Kierkegaard writes, “There is that which is more contrary to Christianity, and to the very nature of Christianity, than any heresy, any schism, more contrary than all the heresies and all the schisms combined, and that is to play Christianity. But precisely in the very same sense that the child plays solider, it is playing christianity to take away the danger (Christianly, “witness” and “danger” correspond), and in place of this to introduce power (to be a danger for others), worldly goods, advantages, luxurious enjoyment… ” (Attack on Christendom, 8)
The tenor of the book pushes against paid clergy. Their loyalties are divided and they will invariably seek today’s enjoyment over risks for tomorrow. The ministry becomes a career for advancement, rather than a calling of sacrifice.
As a young man – completely poor, my schooling and friends left every moment focused on church and faith – sacrifice was easy. Now I am married with four kids… and I feel this tension…I am tempted by comfort. I worry I would trade solidarity with Christ for safety… never consciously, but I could distractedly stumble into playing Christianity.
Or, as Jesus puts it, I worry I will allow the yeast of the Pharisees to rise up in my life.
So I ask for your prayers. That my faith and life will recklessly pursue Christ.
Tangent: The Kierkegaard quote above is not only relevant for me, but for the church today. This line especially is fitting for today, “it is playing christianity to take away the danger (Christianly, “witness” and “danger” correspond), and in place of this to introduce power (to be a danger for others).” The church that seeks power over others, rather than sacrifice for others, has forsaken the path of Christ. This path is – as Luke teaches – moving toward the cross.