Back in the nineties I received a bread machine for Christmas. It was the rage because you placed a few ingredients in the pan, closed the top, hit the button and voilà: home baked bread. The main ingredient was yeast and for good reason. Without it the bread wasn’t light and airy, it would be like a rock. Jesus knew that using parables gave word pictures to help His people understand kingdom principles so let’s look at the purpose of leaven and why this one or two verse metaphor is so powerful.
Our Savior seemed to be on a roll in Matt. 13:33 or Luke 13:20-21 using His favorite teaching style. “Hmmmm, what’s it like to experience kingdom living now (paraphrased)?” He chose the imagery of bread undoubtedly because bread was considered the staff of life. Every woman knew how to bake bread and every man appreciated eating it but what’s the real point of leaven?
Any type of leaven is an agent of change. It works quietly, secretly, and subtly to transform simple flour and water; that’s the lower story. Leaven is a pervasive influence that brings life. Do you see where I’m going? The upper story is that our lives should the transforming influence to those God has placed in our path. Whether it’s your family, neighbors, church, or community; you are leaven. The gradual change that leaven brings to bread permeates throughout the whole loaf but it’s not obvious at first. You need patience if you’re a bread maker; leaven works secretly, like a seed underground, but you’ll eventually see the new life over time.
We can be a transforming influence to those around us as well: a catalyst. This is someone that causes change, speeds up a chemical reaction, and alters the rate of growth. We can be catalysts to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth by living our lives under the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). When you invite that kind of power into your life you can expect change and we all know that change brings change.
Jesus promised the arrival of the Holy Spirit because He was leaving (John 14:25-26) and knew we’d need help to live this higher life. As He was ascending into heaven He gave last minute instructions to the disciples to wait for the outpouring of the power source: His Spirit. The leavening is within us, it’s His Spirit, waiting for you to invite Him into your life.
Where do you want change? Where do you need this permeating, transforming influence to work like yeast in your life? Your emotions, your marriage, your kids, your health, your job? God wants to influence you to be an influence around others. He may need to modify your behavior, give you a new perspective, or adjust your thinking but He is our divine yeast working secretly in our hearts bringing us new life in the Kingdom of God.