May 17, 2016

Kingdom Growth

Jesus used a parable about yeast permeating a batch of dough to explain growth in the kingdom, “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” (Matt 13:33b NIV). In my mind I’ve always imagined a woman preparing a daily portion of bread for her family. However, 60 pounds of flour seems more appropriate for a local bakery, than for a single family dinner table. I’m now wondering if the parable indicates more than just the permeating qualities of the kingdom and that the quantity of the kingdom should also be considered.

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----I baked my own bread for a while before I married Chari. So my mind too quickly made sense of the yeast’s spreading quality to delve into just how much “three measures” were. I assumed a couple loaves, because that was normal to me. Darby’s translation reads “three pecks”, which would indeed be about sixty pounds of flour. But the flour is the large quantity; the yeast is the small quantity. Jesus likened the kingdom to the yeast, the small quantity. And it was the yeast which spread through the massive amount of dough by its prolific nature. Christ’s kingdom spread from tiny Judea throughout the entire world by its prolific nature. The writers of the New Living Translation etch this sense into the surface of the parable, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough.” (NLT)
-----If, however, this woman would have mixed a peck of salt into her three pecks of dough as well, the yeast would not have survived when added. Salt is a preservative. It sucks the water out of microbes, leaving them dead or greatly hindered, depending on how much salt is used. Yeast is a microbe. I think it is greatly interesting that Jesus used yeast to demonstrate the spread of His kingdom, but he used salt to demonstrate the nature of his followers. Being the creator of this universe, He knew the intricacies of both.
-----One element of human nature takes things too far. It seeks too much meaning. It reads things that are not there, or even though they are there, they were not an intended part of the communication. Romance is a great example. It seeks every bit and sense of the loved one it can get. Therefore it wrings out the last drop of meaning from every expression and action its lover makes. That spells trouble, because people are full of ambiguity.
-----But the Lord is not full of ambiguity. He is clear and straight forward. It is just that He draws communication through examples and parables of these ambiguous creatures and their multifaceted affairs. You saw immediately the possibility the woman making the bread was a baker. Otherwise, she may have been preparing for a holiday feast other than Passover. Either way, the action of the yeast/kingdom is to proliferate throughout the dough. And either way, the product of its proliferation goes out to nourish many, which is indeed another reality about His kingdom, though it is merely a sideline tidbit of this parable.
-----I can hardly think Jesus missed the aspect of yeast making bread of dough in places where it will be distributed to many. But I hardly think He intended that to be a meaning of the parable. Yet there it is, quite real regardless. So also many church leaders over the centuries, being the “more romantic” of Jesus followers, delve deeper into things of new life and come away treating sideline tidbits of God’s Word as main points. Thus, we get groups of people following those leaders into more and more new denominations. Ugh! Unintended consequences.
-----I like to think the sideline tidbit of salt’s dampening effect might be useful in constraining yeast’s action upon the romantic leader, hindering him from dragging a piece of the church down another rabbit trail of his own imagined importance. “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God,” (Rom 14:22) might be a salty constraint to exuberance in the Lord.

Love you all,
Steve Corey