Klondike Mike and the Leaven of the Pharisees

Chilkoot Pass – Wikipedia

 When I was a teenager, I loved reading stories about the “Trail of ’98.” These were the Gold Rush days, and men did amazing things in their quest for wealth. Alaska Public Radio reported:

In February 1898 Mike Mahoney aka “Klondike Mike” made a deal with Hal Henry. He would escort the Sunny Samson Sister Sextette and their luggage over the Chilkoot Pass and down to Dawson city for $3000 plus a share of the musical group’s proceeds once they started performing in the Dawson Saloons.

There was only one problem. The six sisters refused to perform without their piano to accompany them. 

Klondike Mike, a strapping Quebec farm boy, and champion boxer turned stampeder, duly hoisted the entire piano onto his back and went step-by-step up the Golden Stairs and into Klondike fame. [1]

The Golden Stairs was a path cut in the ice that climbed the pass. Unfortunately, there was a custom’s station at the top. The Mounties were not only responsible for collecting tolls, but they also insured the safety of the people crossing the pass into the gold rush country. That meant each person was required to bring a year’s worth of food and supplies as well as prove they were fit enough to face the hardships ahead of them in the territory. 

As fortune would have it, Mike met a Mountie who was only on his second day at the job. The Mountie didn’t believe the dainty sisters had what it took to survive in the Yukon and refused to allow them to cross even if they were accompanied by a piano-toting Quebec farm boy. Frustrated, Mike left the piano at the top of the pass and stormed back to Skagway. Eventually, someone hauled the piano back down from the pass, sold it, and made a tidy profit.

These prospectors were called “sourdoughs” because of their bread. Mother Earth News[2] has a great article about collecting your own wild yeast from plants like Oregon Grape, juniper berries, and even the bark of Aspen trees. The miners harvested the yeast and went to great lengths to protect their “sponge” – their starter. They even carried it in little containers on a string hung around their necks to keep it warm. 

The yeast is amazing. “Given ideal conditions, yeast can increase its own volume by more than ten times, overnight!” With that in mind, Jesus warned his disciples: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6). The Lord wasn’t talking about bread, he was warning us. “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” (v. 12).

Some false doctrines are so appealing, they can explosively spread like yeast leavening bread. Paul said, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom … but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:10 – 23). 

False teaching, like leavened bread, is full of gas.

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