Matthew 13:33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into flour until it worked all through the dough.”
We are the proud owners of a bread maker. Unlike some households where it is used once and then languishes in a cupboard for years, we do actually use it regularly. The most important ingredient in a good loaf of bread is yeast. Without it, the bread resembles a house brick, instead of a fluffy and soft farmhouse loaf that can be enjoyed with a generous spread of butter and jam, or either side of several rashers of bacon and brown sauce!
It’s been a long time since I studied biology, but I do know that yeast is a living organism that works to give volume to the flour and water by releasing carbon dioxide and alcohol during the process of fermentation. It breaks down the starch in the flour, helps to strengthen and develop gluten in dough, and also contributes to the flavours in the bread. The incredible thing is that is only takes a tiny amount of yeast to achieve this – it is powerful stuff! Half a teaspoon is sufficient to act on a loaf of bread.
Jesus had the amazing ability of conveying complex and earth-shattering truth in the form of a simple analogy or parable. This is one of his shortest parables, but it is packed with meaning and truth about the Kingdom of God:
Yeast is alive! Without yeast, bread is flat and dead. Without God we are spiritually flat and dead! God is the creator and giver of life and every breath we take is given by Him. Where God is forgotten, ignored or purposely left out, life loses all meaning and purpose.
Yeast is the most important component of a bread recipe. If yeast is left out of the recipe the bread will be a disaster. No amount of kneading will bring it to life. If we don’t have God in our lives and are not living in relationship with him our best efforts and plans will ultimately fail. There is no substitute for God, and replacing Him with anything else will leave us empty.
Yeast needs to work through the whole loaf. If the yeast doesn’t work through the whole loaf, the result will be deformed and inconsistent bread. In the same way, if we don’t give every area over to the Lordship of Christ, we will be spiritually deformed and less effective in our walk with Christ. God demands our whole being.
Yeast breaks down the difficult bits and strengthens the bread. Yeast makes bread easier to digest and gives the bread strength to hold our bacon sandwich together! God often uses difficult situations to develop our character and deepen our dependence on him. We are promised in the Bible that we will face hardship and persecution as Christians, but our strength can be found in Christ.
Yeast gives flavour and texture. The best part about a fresh loaf of bread is the taste! Without yeast, bread would be fairly bland and unexciting. Sometimes the perception is that being a Christian is boring and joyless, but the opposite is true. Following Christ is the most exciting, life-changing and exhilarating!