Summary: Part of my summer preaching series this week we look at the impact the Kingdom of Heaven has on the world
6 The Kingdom of Heaven is Like Yeast
For seven of the eight parables that Jesus began with the line “The Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God is like. . .” he used everyday events that were happening around those he was teaching, outside, but in one instance he took them out of the fields and vineyards, away from the sea and market place and returned them to the place they had grown up, their homes and specifically to the kitchen and a task that they had watched countless times throughout their lives.
Matthew 13:33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
We are now in week seven of our summer series “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like” and we’ve looked at treasure and fishing nets, mustard seeds and pearls. We’ve talked about faith, salvation, dreams and determination. We began in June with the premise “The Kingdom of Heaven is an Inukshuk” and we looked at how these amazing stone sculptures served the Inuit people in so many important ways, providing landmarks, guiding people in the right directions and warning them of potential dangers. All things that we as the church, the Kingdom of Heaven manifested today, are supposed to do in our world.
And so now Jesus uses an illustration that would have familiar to everyone who had ever watched their mothers or wives make bread. And that would have been an almost daily occurrence. Bread is one of those things that we tend to take for granted in 2010, and we have so much of it and so many different varieties. We have bagels and pita, tortilla’s muffins, rolls and baguettes, white bread, whole wheat bread, multi grain bread, raisin bread. But two thousand years ago in Palestine they would have had bread. And the bread would have been made daily. Remember in the Lord’s Prayer, right after Jesus taught us to pray that his will would be done on earth, do you remember what he taught us to pray. Matthew 6:11 Give us today the food we need. But do you remember the way you memorized the Lord’s prayer? Sure you do Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. And in the original language the word used is very simply, bread.
But the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t like bread; it is like the ingredient that makes the bread rise. In the New Living Translation it is translated as Yeast but in the King James Version it is translated as Leaven. The reason is that yeast as we know it is a fairly recent innovation, commercial yeast has only been available for less than 200 years. And long before we were able to go to a store and buy yeast in an envelope or a bottle people have been eating bread that was not flat. And it was this rising agent, this leaven that Jesus uses to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, in the New King James Version it reads this way: Matthew 13:33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."
Culturally we are told that bread was a staple in the time of Jesus, it was a very important part of their everyday diet. 2000 years ago they didn’t have the luxury of grocery stores and restaurants. Food was prepared at home and if you were going to be away from home your food was sent with you.
And bread was an essential part of that, when Jesus fed the five thousand with the little boy’s lunch it was fish and some bread. When Jesus instituted the last supper he used bread as a symbol for his body. In the book of Acts when Paul was being shipped to Rome to stand trial and the ship they were on ran aground they ate before they abandoned ship, and what did they eat? Acts 27:35-36 Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. Then everyone was encouraged and began to eat—
Remember when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness he had gone 40 days without food and the Devil appears and says Matthew 4:3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Personally, for me anyway pizza or a burger would have been more tempting, but Satan used the familiar, the everyday for the temptation.
And so just as when Jesus directed their attention to the farmer in the field, or the mustard plant growing on the side of the road or the fishing net being cast into the sea Jesus uses the everyday as a simile for the eternal, he draws from the secular to describe the sacred.