Week 19 | The Fifth Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Judges 6:11-24: Peace to you. Don't be afraid.
Psalm 126: The Lord has done great things for us!
Leviticus 7:11-14: offering cakes of leavened bread with his thanksgiving sacrifice of fellowship
Matthew 13:33: The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast...
The question that this story is probably answering is whether or not Satan can disrupt or interrupt the progress of the Kingdom of God. Jesus uses the example of yeast and its unique nature to explain how. As it was in Jesus’ time, bread is still a major staple of many diets around the world.
Each day the lady of the house would grind wheat into flour. She would then mix the freshly ground flour with a portion of the dough kept from the previous day’s bread making. The mix would be set aside so that the yeast in the lump of dough from the previous day could do its work and cause the new dough to rise and be ready to be baked into bread.
There is a story told of a man who moved from a European country to the US. This man kept the family tradition and business baking and selling bread. Each day the man would make bread with the same yeast that had been kept alive from when his grandmother made bread. The bread that he would make daily followed the same technique of setting aside a lump of dough to use for the next day. The bread that he was making is said to have come from yeast that was well over a hundred years old. The man was proud of the way that he was able to keep the family tradition alive.
If yeast can stay alive that long, and we can eat bread that is made from a strain of yeast over a hundred years old, then what does that say about what God told the Israelites when he told them to leave all the yeast behind and to get rid of every bit of yeast in their homes.
In those times the Israelites did not have packets of yeast to use like we do today; and if yeast represented the continuity with the past; in that, day after day a bit of the dough was kept to keep the yeast for tomorrow's bread, day after day, year after year…an unbroken connection to the past…what does it mean that they were asked to get rid of it all?
While the Israelites were told to clean the yeast out… sin had been likened to yeast…in that, a little can grow into a lot, then, Jesus is not using the reference to yeast as an indication of corruption. Jesus is not stating that the Kingdom of God will be corrupt in any terms.
This story is not about the nature of the yeast in that it is evil, rather it is about the way that the yeast works when it is introduced into the mixture of the dough. If follows the theme of putting something small into something and its becomes something big and wondrous. When yeast is introduced into the mixture it begins a process that is irreversible and one that will continue to work pervasively, persistently, and unseen until the entire mixture is ready for the oven. There is no way to interrupt the process once it has begun.
Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom of Heaven has begun to grow, the process is irreversible, and it does not matter what Satan is trying, or wanting to do. Neither the Devil nor his minions will be able to stop the process of the Kingdom growing and overtaking the entire world!
The intended outcome of this parable is to know the Kingdom of God is growing and is providing a tasty treat.
Almighty and eternal God, you have appointed your only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world and willed to be appeased by His blood.
Grant, we beseech you, that we may worthily adore this price of our salvation, and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of the present life, so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.