They fail to understand

They fail to understand

Sign from Heaven. Leaven of Pharisees.

(The Gospel History, Section 69)

And they reasoned one with another, saying, We have no bread. And Jesus perceiving it saith unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have no bread? Do ye not yet perceive, neither understand? Having eyes, see ye not, and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces took ye up? And they say unto him, Seven. And he said unto them, Do ye not yet understand? How is it that ye do not perceive that I spake not to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

They fail to understand

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book III, Poem XLIII)

Solicitous men buy that which makes their bread to rise,
for those small things they named
Their office, charge laid on them,—all the men,
Like fluttered doves, bethought them how they came
Aboard with but one loaf—how careless, they!
Well might the Master chide them! So, concerned
For their own petty failure, they let pass
Their Master’s solemn warning, word of price.

The Saviour saw, and read the trivial thought,
Foolish self-blame, and pride impeccable,
Made turn deaf ear to Him, the faithful Twelve!—
“O ye of little faith, why all this talk,
This much-ado about so small a thing?
What matter if ye bring or leave our bread?
Know not ye that My words be more than bread,—
And, lo, ye let them pass, nor pause to think,—
What meaneth He? This leaven, what is it,
The Lord forbids us? Do ye not perceive?
Having eyes, see ye not? your ears, hear they,
And do ye not remember? That day I brake
Five loaves among five thousand, ye were there,—
How many baskets filled the broken meat?”
Afeared but not convicted, “Twelve,” they say;
And wonder how that broken meat may serve
Present occasions—distributed long ago.
“And when the seven loaves I blest and brake,
And ye dealt to four thousand, what took ye up?”
“Seven baskets filled we with the fragments, Lord.”
Meek were they but obtuse, for small affairs
Filled all their mind to its circumference,
Nor left them room for wonder: and the Lord’s words—
Words pregnant with great meanings,—as idle song
Fell on dull ears too occupied to hear,
Or, hearing, comprehend.

“Nay, have ye not

Yet understood that things be only signs
Whereby a man may interpret mysteries,—
The words of life I speak? Perceive ye not,
’Twas not of baken bread I bade beware?
Take heed of the leaven of the Sadducees,
Who scorn that word—‘a man shall live by faith’;
And, unbelieving, with light mind go forth
Denying, doubting, mocking at the truth
God’s prophets witness for. Again, I say,
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,
Uplift with spiritual pride. No mocking scorn
Of humble faith is for you: not set for you,
The high seats of the mighty, complacent
In sense of greater goodness, purer faith,
Than others know; nor yet is’t for you to sit
At ease where pleasure is the end of men:
These leavens be for others—but for you,—
Your bread, sincerity, no leaven lacks,
And truth is not puffed up!

At last knew they that He spake not of bread
But of the subversive teachings Israel got,
Poor Israel! of them at whose feet she sat;—
She, who misguided went, and fell in pit,
Discerned not of her, or her blinder guides!
The Disciples bethought them of the leaven hid,
A little lump, in measures three of meal,
And, lo, that woman found her bread did rise!
With rising heart they conn’d the story o’er,
And knew the leaven in them—they went light.

St. Matthew xvi. 7-12.
St. Mark viii. 16-21.