Mark 8:10-21

Talks for Growing Christians

The Lord Warns His Disciples about Leaven

Mark 8:10-21

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Lesson Number 33

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Unbelief will never be satisfied.
  2. The leaven of the Pharisees and Herodians can characterize disciples as well as unbelievers.

Practical Application

  1. Let's not remember the facts and forget the lessons.
  2. Our experiences today are for our greater faith tomorrow.


  1. Why did the Lord use the figure of leaven?
  2. Did the disciples understand what Jesus was telling them?
  3. Explain, "People convinced against their will are of the same opinion still?"
  4. Why do people try to explain away heavenly signs?
  5. Why did the Lord say that no sign would be given?
  6. What do the two leavens represent? Can the leavens characterize disciples?


  1. After the feeding of the 4,000, the Lord took the opportunity to warn the disciples of the dangers of the Pharisees' leaven and of Herod's leaven. Leaven or yeast symbolized slowly spreading evil. It had penetrating power and a corrupting influence.
  2. No. They didn't realize that Jesus was using figurative language. They thought He meant that they had failed to bring supplies. Had they forgotten so quickly the feeding of the two large crowds? Jesus wanted them to think on a higher level.
  3. The Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven. They were testing Jesus. Their attitude was one of unbelief. People convinced against their will still refuse to believe.
  4. Even when the voice of God was heard from heaven, there were some who gave it a naturalistic explanation ("it thundered"). Any sign given will be explained away by unbelievers.
  5. The Pharisees explained Jesus' miracles by demonic power. No sign could be given to convince this unbelieving generation.
  6. The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy; the leaven of Herod was like worldly skepticism. Yes, disciples then and now can be influenced by these subtle leavens. Great faith and worldliness cannot abide together.


  1. Are you aware of leaven in your life? If so, what should you do about it?
  2. Do you seek signs? If so, why? Should you seek signs? What is the alternative?


  1. Ask yourself if you have grown spiritually. Are you apt to think about things only on an obvious, naturalistic level, rather than taking things to a higher level? You can have the mind of Christ, thinking His thoughts on a spiritual level.

Key Verses

  • "Jesus charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? and having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? How is it that you do not understand?" (Mark 8:15, 17-18, 21)

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