The Leaven of Herod

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries3 Minutes

“He was giving orders to them, saying, ‘Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” Mark 8:15 NASB

Leaven was an important symbol for Jesus. Luke records His warning about “the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Regardless of how they appeared, their real desire was to deceive. To pretend to be one thing, while, in reality, being something totally different.

Jesus taught that this hypocrisy should not be part of any of His followers. We are to be honest and speak the truth. To remember that God knows the truth, that we cannot hide anything from Him (Luke 12:1-3).
Matthew’s Gospel expands on this definition, adding the warning to include Sadducees (Matthew 16:6). Jesus was warning about possible hypocrisy in every kind of religious leader and doctrine.

But Mark’s Gospel actually adds a different dimension. He records that Jesus also was concerned about the leaven of Herod! This is a completely different form of hypocrisy. For Herod was a politician, concerned with gaining and holding power. We indeed can find this kind of deception among politicians, but also in business and every other kind of human endeavor.

Jesus here used three separate words, with different perspectives Believers are to remember. First, He gave “orders.” Second, He told us to “watch out.” Third, He told us to “beware.”

He was warning us in strong terms why we need to watch out and beware. To really pay attention, and ponder what people are saying and doing, and not just take for granted that they are being trustworthy, or that we should follow their example. But this is not an incidental part of life; reflecting the seriousness of this issue, He gave us an order.

His words are a reminder that leaven can infect any organization. It can be present in any person. Ask God to help you be on guard against “leaven,” in your life, and the situations you face.


Prayer: Father, free me from all deceit and hypocrisy. Give me discernment and wisdom. Help me to speak the truth, that others might know I have been transformed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.