There are seven parables in Matthews Chapter 13: The sower (verses 1-9); the weeds (24-30); the mustard seed (31-32); the yeast (33); the treasure (44); the pearl (45-46) and the net (47-48). Of these the parable of the yeast stands in the middle. This parable is indeed central to Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of heaven (or theKingdom of God ).
In this short parable we learn that small and seemingly insignificant beginnings can be of great importance in God’s Kingdom (in line with the parable of the mustard seed). The final outcome of the Kingdom is also mentioned (in line with the parables of the weeds and the net). However, the real focus of this parable is on the processes in God’s Kingdom.
Between the “hiding of the yeast” and the rising of the dough (not mentioned but implied by the parable) lies the leavening work of the yeast. “A handful of yeast eventually permeates a large amount of flour”, someone has commented on this verse. “This parable focuses on yeast’s transforming quality”, writes another. In other words: In God’s Kingdom the processes of working through and through till a real difference has been made are important.
Through this parable Christ encourages those individuals, congregations and organisations who give their all to serve God, but who do not see any immediate effect. Although it may seem like an insignificant beginning and even like insignificant processes, it will bear fruit in God’s Kingdom.
To me the leavening work of the yeast is a symbol of God’s work. At the end it is not only about us working through and through till the end is reached, but about God working through us. It is not only about unrelenting efforts to make a difference, but about God’s faithfulness. “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” Paul assures the congregation in Philippi (Philippians 1:6).
To quote once more: “Human valuation misses the point; little becomes great when God is at work”.
To think about (or discuss): In what ways can we be involved like yeast doing the leavening work of God’s Kingdom within the context of the HIV and Aids pandemic?