Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 26 May 2015

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.  “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” Mark 8, verses 14-15.

Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.   Two thousand years later, that yeast is still working.   Don’t believe me?

Did you know that, every day since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Boudin Baking Company in San Francisco has maintained the same starter for its sourdough bread?   That’s right, the exact same bread starter – the foundation of all their bread, literally millions of rolls in the last 109 years – has been maintained every day for over 39822 consecutive days.   Through World War I, through the Great Depression, through World War II, through the entire Cold War, through the terms of 14 presidents, and through any number of subsequent earthquakes and aftershocks, the exact same bread starter has been used, re-stocked, and re-used the next day for every single loaf they bake. Literally speaking, that one small company has kept alive the same yeast used to bake first bread over a century ago. In reality, the starter goes back even farther than that.

And did you know that there are grandchildren of John Tyler still alive today?   Just a few weeks ago, we talked about how the world’s oldest living person is now 116 and retired in Georgia.   She has lived in three centuries.   Well, there are grandchildren of President John Tyler still walking this earth today.   Not great, great, great grandchildren:  grandchildren; as in “my dad’s dad was President of the United States.”   That’s no big deal, except that John Tyler took office in 1841: 174 years ago.   Years later, he died as a member of the Confederate government during the Civil War.  Tyler was long-lived and had a prodigious amount of children late in life, two of whom also had children very late in life (in the 1920s).   Lyon and Harrison Tyler are both still very much alive.   And to think John Tyler was born in the late 1700s himself; extraordinary.

What’s the point?   The more things change, the more they stay the same and something extraordinary – like ‘the yeast of the Pharisees’ coming down through centuries and generations – is still very much with us today. It’s sort of like the Boudin starter and the Tyler family:   something good from long ago but brandishing a double edge that could be dangerous today. That ‘yeast’ is pride.

Stephen King once wrote that “the mother of all sin is pride.”   I agree with that because every sin couples itself with pride (and idolatry, if you think about it). Each of our sins is a “me first” statement to God and the world. Pride makes us say and do some terrible things.   It can also spur us on to greatness in the name of God. I believe that, when Jesus warned His disciples to beware the yeast of the Pharisees, He wasn’t telling them to watch out for baked goods.   Instead, He was telling them to not get too big for their britches. If you think about it, that’s good advice for all of us.

And on that piece of advice, I’m going to go watch an old movie (maybe even one about John Tyler) and have some bread.

Lord, forgive my pride.   Check me hard on it, and remind me to humble myself in love before you for all time.

Read Mark 8, verses 14-21.


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