“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees ....” (Matthew 16:5-6)

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Matthew 16:5-6)

What does Jesus mean by 'yeast'?

Jesus is not talking about yeast per se. Jesus took the opportunity to draw an analogy using bread and yeast. So what is the analogy?

Jesus is comparing the teachings of the Temple institution's leaders to yeast. Why?

Because yeast ferments, and through this fermentation, the bread rises. The yeast spreads throughout the flour during the process of rising, and insidiously saturates the bread as it begins to take shape, becoming part of the bread.

Organized sectarian institutions and their officials - men who gain their positions through appointment by men after political maneuvering - poison their followers with misinterpretations of scripture intended to attract followers and bolster their coffers.

What about today's 'yeast'?

This same political positioning and misinterpretation of scripture that Jesus is speaking of also took place centuries after Jesus' disappearance. This is why Jesus warned about them.

Following Jesus' departure, a man who had been persecuting Jesus' followers on behalf of Rome suddenly claimed to have had a vision of Jesus. Within a short time, he began teaching a philosophy that departed from Jesus' teachings, yet he claimed that he was the true apostle of Jesus.

This was Paul, and Paul's philosophy has since become known as Pauline Theology. Paul's philosophy differed greatly from not only the teachings of Jesus, but the teachings of James, Peter and other true disciples of Jesus who were passing on his teachings. Paul is said to have argued with James and Peter in public.

Paul's teaching, departing from Jesus', claimed that we are saved by accepting that Jesus died for our sins. Unlike Jesus' teachings about having a change of heart (being "born again") and coming to love the Supreme Being, Paul taught an easy process of deliverance - in order to attract followers.

But if Jesus wanted to attract followers with such an easy process of deliverance, why wouldn't he have simply taught, "wait until I am crucified and you will be saved"?

Remember that Paul was a Roman. Through political ambition to control Europe and the Middle East by controlling Christianity, Roman emperors organized the Councils of Nicaea in the Fourth Century to interpret the role and teachings of Jesus from a political perspective. The members of the council voted on these principles, creating the Nicene Creed.

Unsurprisingly, the principles of the Nicene Creed centered around Pauline Theology. And the first Bible Canon chosen by Eusebius under order of Emperor Constantine unsurprisingly was filled with the letters and epistles of Paul.

With this foundation, later in the Fourth Century, the Roman government organized and legitimized the Roman Catholic Church.  

The intent was political. To retain Rome's authority over the population. This allowed an ex facto Roman rule over Europe and the Middle East through the auspices of the Roman Catholic church for many centuries. This is why it was heralded as the "Holy Roman Empire" for many centuries.

Prior to the Councils of Nicaea, dozens of scriptural scrolls documenting Jesus' teachings had been circulating widely and translated into at least 500 languages. These were confiscated by the Romans. Most were burned or otherwise destroyed.

But the texts that Constantine appointed Eusebius to assemble into the Bible were retained. The others were lost until they were discovered buried in the desert in the 20th Century.

The Romans outlawed the reading or owning scripture by common folk, and only their Latin version of the Canonized Bible could be read - only by priests.

Because Latin was the language of the elite, for over 1,000 years, practically no one could read the Biblical scriptures outside of the pope and the priests in assemblies.

This absolute monopoly over the scriptures enabled the Roman Catholic Church to control its interpretation as well. As a result, there is one generally-accepted interpretation of Jesus' role and purpose even today - based largely upon the Nicene Creed written some 1,600 years ago for political expediency.

This is is most certainly "yeast", as Jesus is describing. And today, this yeast is baked in to many of the sectarian institutions that claim to represent Jesus.

Still, because God is in ultimate control, there is enough of Jesus' teachings to provide clarity and evidence for his true role as the loving servant and representative of God. We see that the Supreme Being made sure this was not lost, and today with the findings of some of the Gnostic texts, we come to understand the brutal monopoly of the Roman Catholic yeast, and how it spread to other sectarian institutions.

We also find the Supreme Being made sure the essential teachings of Jesus made it through these political organizations and their manipulations of scripture:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)