‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast…’ (Matthew 13:33-34)
This short parable follows on nicely from the one on the mustard seed and, indeed, many look at them together and think of them as one kind of extended parable, which is understandable. When we look at it initially the lesson seems obvious. In the same way that the introduction of yeast into the loaf mixture causes the dough to change significantly so the introduction of the Kingdom of God into our lives causes them to change in no less a significant way. However, there is more to it as the parable appears to offer different views on the nature of that transformation.
From one perspective the parable perhaps teaches us that all too often the work of the Kingdom is unseen. In the same way that we are unable to see the yeast at work in the dough, we know that it is there at work and that ultimately it will transform the bread. Likewise we are not always able to see the Kingdom at work in the world around us, but we know that it is at work drawing people closer to God. So when we consider the parable in this way if offers us some encouragement. At first glance and in the short term we might see no evidence of the Kingdom at work, but later on when we look back and reflect we can clearly see how the Holy Spirit has indeed been at work.
However there is also another view on this parable, that being, in the same way that the work of the yeast is clear to see, so too is the work of the Kingdom and, if only we would open our hearts as well as our eyes to all that is happening around us we would be aware of that just as clearly. So what then are we to take from this parable and does it matter which perspective ‘speaks’ most to us?
To answer the latter question first – no, it doesn’t matter because both perspectives are indeed true. What this parable teaches us is that there will always be times and individuals in history where it is abundantly clear that the Holy Spirit is working in a mighty way to build up the Kingdom of God. However, it also teaches us that the Holy Spirit is always with us and is always at work, transforming lives and leading people to God that they may take their place in His Kingdom.