He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough” (Matthew 13:33, Common English Bible).
My friend Paul makes a lot of bread. No, he isn’t a baker, he just makes a lot of homemade bread that is very delicious. I enjoy eating it very much.
In these days of convenience we live in, Paul and others like him, don’t make bread in the ways our mothers and even more their mothers and grandmothers did during previous generations. This isn’t a complaint, it is a statement of the facts. Paul, as well as most others I know who make bread, throw all the ingredients in a bread machine, turn it on and let the machine do its thing. About three and a half hours later, out comes a hot loaf of homemade bread.
While I love that we have homemade bread far more regularly due to this modern technology, I miss the times from my childhood (though they didn’t happen often) when I would see bread made. It fascinated me that after the kneading was done, the dough was left in a covered bowl. It would rise to twice the original size. It was then punched down, kneaded again, divided and placed in loaf pans where it was allowed to rise again to twice its original size.
The growing dough was interesting. Yeast was placed in the dough and it was worked until it permeated all the dough, causing it to rise.
Through out most of Scripture, leavening is a metaphor for evil and how, once in, it can destroy. Here Jesus takes a different angle. He uses the leavening to illustrate the growth of the Kingdom. Much like my fascination with how the leavening changed the bread when I was a kid, this is a pretty interesting comparison as well.
I think Jesus, here, is talking about the growth of the community of faith. When faith is introduced to the community, and we keep working the community, the community grows just as when a baker works the yeast into bread dough, the dough grows. As the community grows, both in number and faithfulness, the result becomes more growth still.
I think we can also find a secondary meaning in this parable. None of us, not the first Christians and not the Christians of our time come to the faith knowing everything there is to know about being a Christian. It is a process. It is a process that takes time, really the rest of our lives, for us to know and come to some level of understanding. We grow as individual Christians. The leavening of the Gospel continues to grow within us, it continues to work on us, growing our lives and our faith.
When we grow in our faith, the faith community grows too. We become closer to God and closer to each other. In the end, that leavening does a good thing.
How does the leavening work in your life?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved