Part Eleven. The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus warned his disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were the Political and Religious leaders at that time. Was he both warning his disciples and foretelling how he would be arrested and killed? He could also have been giving us advice about our leaders today?
Matthew chapter 16 verses 5 to 12
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees
When the disciples went to the other side, they forgot to take bread. “Watch out,” Jesus said to them, “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” So they began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “It is because we brought no bread.” When Jesus learned of this, he said, “You who have such little faith! Why are you arguing among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? How could you not understand that I was not speaking to you about bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that he had not told them to be on guard against the yeast in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Mark chapter 8 verses 14 to 21
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
Now they had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. And Jesus ordered them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” So they began to discuss with one another about having no bread. When he learned of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Have your hearts been hardened? Though you have eyes, don’t you see? And though you have ears, can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Seven.” Then he said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
As mentioned before was the feeding of the 5000 a miracle, or an exercise in the manipulation of the crowd?
People on their own tend, mostly to be reasonable, and are willing to listen and have a sensible discussion, with a free speech on both sides. An agreement may, or may not be forthcoming, but at least one may come to an understanding.
But when they become a crowd, it is difficult to hold a sensible debate. People within the crowd have different views and strength of feelings. Passions can be aroused; many people all start to speak at the same time, or shout down any opposing views. But keep them in small groups and they are able to relate to one another, understand the other person’s point of view. They may not accept it, but at least they might understand that that person is entitled to his, or her point of view.
This is exactly what Jesus did by placing these people into groups were they could relate to each other and share their own food, crowd manipulation for a good and positive result. But a crowd can also be controlled for bad and negative result.
We live in a democracy; the definition is rule by the majority, or some people call it the oppression of the minority by the many, or mob rule. So a person, or a section of the people who are able to control the people for their own aims, or values can obtain the outcome that they want [but not necessarily what the people expected or wanted] But what about the minority? Are their views to be ignored?
There are two classic examples of how thing can be perverted in a democracy.
Example 1] Two foxes and a rabbit decide to vote on what to have for tea. Obviously the rabbit is going to be out voted and be eaten for tea.
Example 2] A vocal minority starts to be extremely vocal, uses whatever measures it can to impose its own point of view on the majority. These measures can be legal using the law, or they can be violent to impose their will on the majority.
Both actions are wrong in themselves. If the minority in example 1] get fed up with being eaten they will eventually fight back and if the majority in example 2] get fed up with the vocal minority always complaining, being professional victims. The majority eventually start to ignore what were originally reasonable grievances and ride rough shod over the minority.
As mentioned before a crowd can soon be turned into an unthinking mob. People in authority are able to use manipulation for both good and evil. Also it may not necessarily be people in authority who manipulate the people to reach their own ends.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. For Christians it is the start of Holy week. It starts of with the celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the cheers of the adoring crowd who place palm leaves before him. Then he enters the Temple area and overturns the moneychanger’s stalls and accuses the Temple authorities of turning the house of God into a den of thieves. The Temple authorities, are none to pleased [after all they have a nice living] so they charge him with blasphemy, demanding that Jesus is put to death. [It gets a trouble maker out of the way and deters others]
As they do not have the powers to execute Jesus, they ask the Roman [civil] authority to do this for them. The Romans, staying strictly within Roman law see no wrong in what Jesus as done. Say no, but the Temple authorities threaten to cause unrest if they [the Roman [civil] authorities do not act and punish Jesus. So the Roman [civil] authorities back down and do the deed. [So much for freedom of protest?]
So what we have here is a crowd who think that Jesus is the best thing that as happened and are willing to follow him. Next we have the Temple authorities manipulating to crowd for their own aims. Finally the civil authorities [who state that Jesus as broken no civil law] caving in to the temple authorities and executing an innocent man, for the sake of stopping mob protests.
There are lessons to be learned, a] a mob do not think and can be manipulated. And b] if a mob can be manipulated one way they can also be manipulated by others and turned yet again. It is nothing new.
Aldous Huxley gave a lecture on crowd behaviour way back in the 1960’s.. Things have been improved [??] since. Two links I think you may find interesting.
Noam Chomsky - "10 strategies of manipulation" by the media
Brave New World: the pill-popping, social media obsessed dystopia we live in