“Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.’”
“Again, he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.’” Luke 13:20-21
I’m a donut kind of guy, crackers–not so much. I sharpened my parenting skills early on with the bribing power of doughy, delicious donuts. In order to motivate my four children to awaken on Sunday mornings, I would go out early and buy a dozen of the pastries and come home shouting out in my best Italian accent, “Coma getta you red, hot donuts.” Bedroom doors would fly open, the kids came running and our worship day was off to a roaring start.
On the other hand, the kids never came running for crackers. What is the difference between crackers and donuts? The key distinctive is yeast. The living agents in yeast can transform damp flour into a living, growing organism that rises to become soft dough that defies gravity. After that, you can bake it into bread, boil it into bagels, fry it into donuts or other delightful pastries. The yeast makes all the difference.
The kingdom of God is astonishing–to what shall we equate it? Only Jesus, the master storyteller, could craft metaphors so simple yet so majestic. Christ paints a picture with words about a place surpassing all imaginable expectations and powered by a mysterious life force.
I constantly meet people that feel mired in the mundane. Trapped in trivial daily routines, their lives feel empty. They fill their time with work, TV, hobbies, sports, entertainment, just about anything to occupy their minds. Jesus shows us through small, ordinary illustrations how amazing our lives can become.
Christ’s followers hang on his every word as He expounds on the kingdom of God in verse 21, “It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” The kingdom is as common as making bread, as ordinary as dough, yet as transformational as yeast.
Baking bread requires a fistful of yeast kneaded into the dough. Composed of millions of microscopic organisms, yeast initiates tremendous activity. The little varmints eat the sugars, reproduce, and emit gases, causing the dough to rise. The life in the yeast transforms and enlarges the dough that is then baked into golden loaves.
The yeast shows us the potency of life resident in the kingdom of God. You may not see it, you may not feel it, but it is there working in the unseen realm, changing us into something more than we thought we could be. Sometimes we feel as dense and useless as unrisen dough. Yet, the life of the Spirit is kneading, rubbing, massaging us into something useful in God’s hands.
What could Jesus mean by comparing the kingdom of God to yeast?
First, I believe Christ was pointing to the life-giving qualities of the Kingdom of God. Add yeast to lifeless flour and water and the yeast will grow in incalculable ways. Like yeast, the teaching of the Lord brings life and transformation. Share the Word of God with any receptive group of people, and they grow. Mysteriously, the yeast of God’s presence and His word change you into a larger person of faith. The life of God in you transforms you. It is unstoppable, and it eventually achieves its purpose.
Ultimately, the yeast of the kingdom permeates every facet of our lives. When you allow God into your life in a meaningful way, you will rise and grow.
Dave Holland pastored churches for thirty-eight years before retiring in Destin, Florida. He recently released his new devotional-Bible study based on the Gospel of Luke titled “Extraordinary Jesus: Ignite Your Season of Miracles.” You can get a copy of this book from his website, DaveHolland.org, or at Amazon.com. Pastor Dave is available to preach and teach in churches and conferences. Contact him at DavidvHolland54@gmail.com.