As the parable of the mustard seed addresses the extent of the kingdom’s growth, this parable concerns the power and process of its growth. Like leaven working its way through the dough, the kingdom message spread across the entire world. In the Bible, yeast is often used to symbolize evil. However, I believe here, just as in the parable of the mustard seed, that the leaven represents the mighty kingdom that everyone expected would come from apparently obscure beginnings—Jesus and the disciples.
Jesus told the disciples still another parable:
Matthew 13:33-35 (TNIV)
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” 34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
We should also look at this same parable as told by Luke the Physician in Luke13:20-21:
Luke 13:20-21 (TNIV)
20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
First, let’s look at yeast from the evil point of view. However, I do not believe that this is what Jesus was telling us. Leaven was symbolic of evil doctrine or practice. It produces fermentation, which is a decay process; decay and death. As we see in Leviticus 2:1 and Leviticus 2:11, Levitical offerings could not be made with yeast. In Exodus 12:15, we also see that the Passover meal had to be observed with “unleavened bread”. The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatian church, Galatians 5:9, that the spreading of leaven here represents the corrupting influence of even a small amount of false doctrine and also in 1 Corinthians 5:6 he point out impure practice in the kingdom using the symbol of leaven.
Could it be that Jesus was telling us that even in the kingdom, especially here on earth, that there would be corrupting influences?
I believe that Jesus was telling us that the kingdom would come from small beginnings and grow worldwide. When yeast is added to dough, it expands itself. Rather than being powered by outward armies or organizations, the kingdom of God grows by an internal dynamic, the Holy Spirit.
What the Jews saw as insignificant was actually the start of a great and world-changing event. Like leaven working its way through the dough, the kingdom message spread across the entire world.
Here’s a thought, huge churches are exciting, but the kingdom has always been characterized by smaller groups of people meeting together in worship and relationship. It’s fine for a church to be small, struggling, and simple—it’s normal.
What is more important, growth in numbers or spiritual growth in individuals? The answer to this question should provide our direction. I am proud of LifePoint because I have seen a great number of people, including myself, grow deeply, spiritually, in relationship with Christ. Some, coming from humble beginnings, have gone out to lead God’s people in worship at other churches, some are following God’s leading in transforming the music industry from the inside out (School of Fish Ministries), WSe recently sent to missionaries out into the world, one to Arkansas and one to Japan, many have re-dedicated their lives to Christ, and many show their love to Christ by loving others. Still more have found a relationship with Christ and follow Him through even smaller gatherings as His disciples. The kingdom grows from humble beginnings, like yeast, it expands itself, growing by the Holy Spirit.
Today’s CLUE: As the parable of the mustard seed addresses the extent of the kingdom’s growth, this parable concerns the power and process of its growth. Like leaven working its way through the dough, the kingdom message spread across the entire world.
What do you think?