Matthew 13:33-35

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:33-35

Did you know that yeast is likely the earliest domesticated organisms in the world? I didn’t either. Over 1500 species of yeasts have been identified. They are tiny, and like mustard seeds, a “little dab’ll do ya.” But this parable is a bit different than the mustard seed parable.

The mustard seed itself grows into something much bigger. Here, the yeast is an invisible catalyst. Certainly, in Jesus’ day as well as ours, a very mysterious catalyst. You might not know how it worked but you knew what to do to allow it to work. Yeasts have been used in baking and fermenting alcohol for thousands of years.

The key here is the mysterious way that the yeast leavens a great deal of flour. You don’t see it actively working but you see the results overnight.

My Grandma Nelson raised a family of three big boys, a daughter, and a hungry husband. My Dad told me that she, night after night after night, made several loaves of bread. He woke each morning to the smell of fresh bread in the farmhouse. He wasn’t just eating bread for breakfast, he was eating love.

This parable reminds me of the story of the old man who complained to the pastor one day about his preaching. He said, “I’ve been coming to this church since I was a child and I can’t remember a single sermon that I’ve ever heard along the way.”

The quick witted (of course) pastor replied, “I’ve been eating dinner with my family every day for many years. I might not remember a single menu but I know that I was fed every time.”

Let’s think about that today. Sure there are times when it is frustrating that we continue to live with the questions that have plagued humankind since they first discovered the marvel of yeasts. We are aware that there is far more that we don’t know that we do – and the list keeps growing. We might wonder why Jesus doesn’t make things clearer for us.

But then again, even if I have a route planned for a long trip, I don’t ever ride there more than a few feet at a time. All I need to see is just the road right in front of me, aware of the dangers that lurk in every direction. I steer clear of the dangers and trust that I’ll eventually get where I’m heading.

Again today I’m reminded that the Christian faith is more about relationship than being right, more about conversation than certainty, and the bread we eat isn’t about yeast but about love.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, one day at a time, growing secretly, you lead us where you want us to go. Fits and starts, wrong turns, flat bread galore, but always you are at work in us. And will be until that day when we sit at table with you in the feast of love that never ends. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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