As the Yeast Rises . . .
Yeast is a miracle worker. It adds life to a mixture of simple ingredients to create a reaction. It’s a tsunami in a bowl! Let yeast do its work and we’re ready to bake some bread.
Bread making isn’t my forte, but I’ve had a few successful results. While I have my favorite recipes, I know it’s the yeast that makes the difference. Without live yeast, the rest of the ingredients fall flat. Ask me how I know!
Jesus wasn’t giving us a baking lesson in this one sentence parable. He was giving us a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, kingdom language was easily misunderstood. Too often it made people think of Roman rule and their need for a new political leader.
To counteract that misunderstanding, Jesus used yeast to explain the potential of the Kingdom of Heaven. It would not take place in a palace or a capital, but in the heart. The simplest definition of a kingdom is a place where a king rules. Jesus wanted his followers to understand that the only way God’s Kingdom comes to this earth is by making God supreme ruler in our heart.
Heaven already celebrates God as King and Ultimate Ruler. Earth . . . that’s another story. Earth has a plethora of kings. Some of them we elect, some we simply listen to. We choose our kings sometimes the way we choose our cereal in the grocery store, by what we like best.
What does yeast have to do with Kingdom rule? As Warren Wiersbe said in unfolding this parable, “yeast doesn’t grow, it permeates.” That’s what happens in bread. Yeast is the catalyst that organizes the reaction that helps the ingredients do together what they could not do without yeast.
So the lessons in this one sentence parable are simple but not easy:
1. Without heart growth there is no kingdom growth.
Are we ready to admit this truth? Are we as committed to what will grow the church as we are to what will grow our hearts? The first century church demonstrated this powerfully. They didn’t grow because they added programs and ministries, even though they did add them. They grew because the Kingdom of God was growing in their hearts.
2. We need God’s complete rule in our hearts.
It’s simple to ask God for His rule. It’s harder to let God’s yeasty rule influence every thought, value, standard, priority, and action. Hearing other voices and adding God to them isn’t the same as hearing from God first. It’s the only way we let God’s yeast “permeate” what we hear and think. Asking whether we are living by God’s rule in these areas is the first step.
3. Kingdom growth isn’t a head count; it’s a heart count.
Active yeast always grows. So what does it mean if we aren’t seeing it? It begs a personal question about whether God’s yeast is growing in our hearts. Where do we practice self-centered thinking? Where do we act from what we think is best without asking God? Heart rule isn’t the same as head rule. We must learn the difference.
We can’t grow the church by ourselves. But we can give God all the territory of our heart so that He can do His yeasty work in it. When we do, something bigger than we can make happen begins to bubble up in a way we know God’s yeast is working.
How’s your yeast growing?
If you want to take the parable deeper, here's a five-minute Bible study for you:
Review Matthew 13:33
Then, answer the following questions based on what you already do or what you need God's help to do.5-minute Bible Study
1. What has happened to the “yeast” in the hearts Jesus speaks about in Matthew 13:15? Is there any truth here for your heart?
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears, understand with their hearts.
2. What threatens the kingdom message in our hearts?
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.
3. How does Jesus remind us to keep His yeast growing in our heart?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’”
4. According to this verse, what will grow your heart toward Christ and his kingdom? What “enlightens” your heart in this way?
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.
5. According to Matthew 6:33, how do we order our priorities for God’s kingdom to come in our hearts? What does that look like for you?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
If you want to download this as a 2-page worksheet, click here: