Spiritual Food and Food-Poisoning: Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees…
Michael P. Barro
Browsing through the internet, I happened to come across a website dedicated to food poisoning and issues revolving around it—http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com of which one of their web pages is one about tips on food safety. To generalize and simplify all these tips on avoiding food-poisoning, I believe that one should simply be discreet about what one puts in one’s mouth. Plain common sense would dictate that precedence to proper food preparation is proper food selection.
Pondering on the issue at hand, I thought on spiritual food-poisoning as well—hazards on the soul as well as the body. And if it is that important to be careful with what physical food we take, then perhaps we should take far greater precautions in the spiritual food we take as well.
Spiritual Food: Christ the Living Bread…
Knowing that Man shall not live by bread alone (physical food) but also by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), then it is every Christian’s imperative to also know about our dire need for spiritual food. But what do we mean by spiritual food?
During the pre-Messianic Era when Jesus has not yet come and the Jews were obligated to practice the sanctuary rituals, one of the components in the Earthly Sanctuary is the Shewbread as illustrated in Exodus 25: 23-30 and Leviticus 24: 8.
To the left is a picture of the shewbread along with other components of the Sanctuary in the background (Seven Candlesticks and the Mercy Seat). According to the Mosaic Law, the shewbread is to symbolize the coming of the Bread of Life.
One of the Jewish Annual Feasts is the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-Nisan 21 of the Jewish calendar) as depicted in Numbers 33: 3 which is to, again, symbolize the coming of the Bread of Life.
Christ is the Living Word (which as mentioned man must also live with) that became flesh (John 1:1, 14), and in John 6: 32-34 Christ tells the apostles that He, Jesus Christ, is the true Bread that the Father gave from Heaven which is far better and greater than the bread which Moses gave. In verse 35 Jesus explicitly declares that He is the Bread of Life. The word of God which became flesh, of which we must also live with not just the physical bread, is the same as the Bread of Life, the spiritual Bread of which we cannot live without.
Another direct reference that Christ made with regards to himself as the Bread of Life is in the Last Supper as narrated in Matthew 26: 26, “…Jesus took the bread, and blessed it, break it and gave it to his disciples and said, ‘Take it, it is my Body’.” It should be noted that of all Gospel Writers it is only Luke who wrote of Jesus commanding the disciples to do the same (breaking of bread) in remembrance of or as a remembrance of Him—the bread of Life. Henceforth to be known in the Christian era as the Lord’s Supper and some denominations, the communion service.
Last Supper of the Early Christians…
Accordingly, the first emperor to persecute the Early Christians was the Emperor Nero (54-68 A.D.) and that it was done based on false perception of the Lord’s Supper. In an effort to make a scapegoat out of the Christians of his time, Nero accused them as practicing cannibalism in a distorted interpretation of the communion service as though the early Christians really were cannibalizing on the Literal Body of Christ. 1
Historically speaking, the Middle-age Church did make the Lord’s Supper Literal in her interpretation of the Lord’s Supper through the indoctrination of the so-called Transubstantiation. According to Catholic Dogma of transubstantiation (1374) as provided in the Council of Trent (1551 A.D.): In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the Whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” ‘…it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes Himself wholly and entirely present.’ 2
What these texts actually intend to mean is that during the communion service the Body of Christ is no longer symbolized, or figuratively represented by the host, but rather that the Host transforms or trans-substantiate into a Literal fleshly Body of Christ. This would not only validate Nero’s accusation of Christians of cannibalism but also thereby justify their persecuting them to mete out this grimly and gruesome “practice”.
But this is not only grave setback which the doctrine of substantiation will ultimately procure. It also distorts what has to be the original intention of our Lord when He commanded that future Christians should continue ‘in his memory’. If we are to believe that Christ as the bread of Life is to be taken into literal context, are we not then supposed to interpret that the shewbread would transform into the Messiah, mystically and miraculously as well? That Christ would not have to be born through a virgin but that the shewbread would turn into Christ himself. If it possible through the prayers of the Catholic priest, why wouldn’t it be possible with the Jewish priest or High Priest?
At present the Catholic Church is devoting efforts to defend transubstantiation, in an article entitled, “Eucharistic miracles” dated June 23, 2011 the Church Apologists argued that these miraculous transformations are a product of divine intervention and therefore must be accepted as an authentic part of the Christian experience.3
Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees…
In Matthew 16: 6, Jesus did warn the disciples of the Leaven* of the Pharisees and Sadducees, of which the disciples, very much like the Roman Church, also misinterpreted it as Literal. In verse 7 the Apostles reasoned among themselves, “It is because we have taken no bread.” Jesus then corrected their misguided inference of his words and explained its plain meaning (verse 12): “Beware of the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Leaven or yeast then, symbolically means false doctrines or by inference, doctrines that are mixed into the “bread”. Since Christ is the Bread of Life, then during Christ’s lifetime, and even before, Christianity and Judaism are already mixed with false doctrines or false teachings—things which we are to be wary of and avoid at all times.
Three things I’d like to Conclude and share with the readers now:
A. Jeremiah once prayed (Jeremiah 15: 16), “Thy words were found, and I did eat them…” The Psalmist King David declared (Psalms 119:103), “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” To eat the spiritual bread is to partake in the fervent study of the Word of God, of Which Christ is himself the very direct object of its contents (they are they which testify of him). To partake the word of God means to fully accept his living and written word, both the Christ of the Bible and his unchanging precepts.
B. That the Word of God did become flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. But that Jesus Christ will once again become flesh and dwell among us in the form of the Host is something that only the middle church introduced and was never believed by primitive Christianity.
To believe this form of mysticism negates what was already intended by Christ as abovementioned—Why Study the Word of God when one can simply cannibalize on the flesh of his only begotten son?
Jesus Christ did not encourage cannibalism; what He did encourage when thrice he said (John 21: 16-17) ‘Feed my Sheep’ is to inspire the Christian Flock to fervently study the Scriptures (the written Word of God), internalize them, comprehend its messages and live up to its standards.
C. Many times the Israelite people had fallen to idolatry. Throughout the Jewish History the people did waiver in their faith and followed strange gods of their neighboring nations. The stigma of their waywardness is apparent in the formation of Jewish mysticism—the Kaballah. Even during Christ’s time on earth the imprint of this perversion of Faith is too strong that they were not able to recognize and accept that the very object of their rituals and symbolisms has arrived and fulfilled all prophecies to the letter. As Jesus said in John 5: 46, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.”
This is what Christ did warn about, the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees—adulterations of the Jewish Faith, the anomalous ingredient in the Doctrine of Jewish and consequently Jewish orthodox beliefs. As what the Kaballah has been to Judaism, so as Gnosticism has been to Christianity; both are anomalies in the partaking of God’s Word—perversions of God’s original message and plan for mankind, the yeasts of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus did warn of false Christ and false prophets, Paul did the same many times in his letters warning his contemporaries that times will come when false prophets will preach another Christ. Two things I would like to deduce from this: 1. That there are belief systems which do try, in their best and most soothing rhetoric, to replace and displace Judeo-Christian Faith, Another aspect noteworthy is the growing popularity of Secular Morality based on Humanism which, although non-religious in claims, is just another belief system with the same intents; and 2. There is internal strife within the Christian Faith which do undermine the integrity and purity of its Traditional Teachings—further from Christ and closer to the New Age Movement.
Irrefutably, these are indeed perilous times when doctrines of devils are being preached into the world. Either they are introducing new ‘breads’, or destroy mankind’s need for spiritual bread, or alter the Purity and integrity of Traditional Christian teachings through their ‘leaven’. One thing is for certain—every follower of Christ must be ardent and vigilant of their Spiritual Diet. This means constant intake of God’s ideal spiritual nutrition for his people—Christ and his pure word. Anything which contradicts either or both is spiritual food poison and must be avoided by every means and at all times.
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*Other translations use the word “yeast” instead—an ingredient used in baking bread.
2 Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), The Wanderer Press, 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, Minnesota.
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