When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? … How is that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12).
It’s easy, isn’t it, to laugh at the disciples. After all, they should have known that Jesus was not warning them about bread. (Unless, of course, he did so privately to those with various food allergies.) They should have remembered Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the crowds. Jesus must not have selected his disciples on the basis of an aptitude test.
And there we find them, far away from their homes, on the other side of the lake, without any bread. They had stomachs. They had appetites. They had just sailed across a lake. But they had nothing to fill their stomachs, or to satisfy their hunger. If you have ever experienced being hungry before then you know how easy it is for thoughts of food to fill your mind. “Peter, did Jesus just say, ‘leaven?'” “Well yes, James, it looks like someone forgot to bring any.”
We all have needs. We need to eat. We need clothing, shelter, and the means to acquire these. Jesus knows this. He provides these things for us. But Jesus is not speaking in today’s text about our physical needs, he is speaking about our spiritual needs. He is providing his disciples with a strong warning to be on guard against the teachings of those who would pull them away from Himself. He is warning them to be on guard against the spiritual teachings of those who had rejected him.
There may be times when we find ourselves unprepared. There may be times when we fail to plan ahead. These things happen. Jesus does not rebuke his disciples for forgetting the bread. Ultimately the bread did not matter. What does matter is this, that we cling to Christ, the bread of life, and beware of the teachings of all those who reject him.
May you cling to Christ and look to him in faith for all your needs – both physical and eternal.