Kingdom Parable Series Week 1 – Parable of the Leaven

Don’t miss the most important part of the parable, it is usually the first statement or question and gives us our point of reference.

“To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?”

( God’s rule and reign in our lives, not some future disembodied place of rest). The kingdom is like leaven or yeast which a woman took and hid {(en) ekrypsen}- the word for hid in the original language is where we get the word cryptic or mysterious. A characteristic of the kingdom is its mysteriousness. She hid it in three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.

God is characterizing or personifying himself as a woman here, he is not ashamed or concerned with the typology as much as showing his nurturing and concern, even expertise at something that would normally be a woman’s job;  making bread. Remember Jesus called himself a mother hen who wanted to protect people under his wings at one point. Both femininity and masculinity are being displayed, she is a woman who is doing a man sized job. She is not baking one loaf of bread, three measures of flour is 16 –  five pound bags and when you add the water its over 100 lbs of dough.

Jesus says the whole, all of it,  gets leavened. The lump stands for the whole world. It includes the doughnuts, croissants, pumpernickels, Kaiser rolls, monkey bread, not just the church wafers. The dough in its present form is indigestible until the kingdom leaven permeates it. The universality or catholicity of the kingdom seems to be Jesus’ major emphasis. The kingdom is hidden in the whole world, not just the church .

The Word who is the yeast or leaven has always been hidden in his creation. All he did in his time on earth was show us his face and tell us his name so we could tell everyone about the leaven inside them.

The yeast inside the dough is so intimately a part of the lump that it can’t be separated again and so is the kingdom in this world. The kingdom is the very thing hidden in the dough, not something produced by the interaction of the leaven and the dough. If the world alone is represented by anything in the parable, it is the flour (the world without the kingdom) and not the dough. In this parable the dough has always had the kingdom in it. It is not a progression from non kingdom to kingdom, but progress from a kingdom in a mystery to a kingdom made manifest when the finished product provides nourishment and life.

The baker watches over the lump and knows when the leaven has done its work and no one (enemy) had better interfere. What is our response to the leaven hidden in the dough? Patience and discernment, to be able to recognize when it (the leaven), not you has done the job. No matter what you do or don’t do, the leaven does its job. At the very most our responses to the leaven (kingdom) increase our satisfaction, but not the success. Even if our responses are negative, if we resist the kingdom, it only makes things inconvenient, but doesn’t stop the leaven from working. Unless the dough is kneaded thoroughly, unless it resists and fights the baker the leaven doesn’t get worked in evenly and rise as high as it should.

How does leaven cause the bread to rise? The pockets of carbon dioxide expand when heated, in other words it breathes. I think of the imagery of the Spirit of God breathing life into men and Jesus breathing his Spirit on his disciples after the resurrection. Our belief or faith doesn’t make the bread rise all we need to do and all we can do is simply trust that the leaven is, was and always will be entirely mixed in the lump and we will rise.

So where are you seeing the leaven in your piece of heaven on earth?

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4 thoughts on “Kingdom Parable Series Week 1 – Parable of the Leaven

  1. Great words. I see a lot of people rising, but they seem to be stuck in their containers with no way to remove the lid. Perhaps it’s our job to remove their lids so that they can grow and rise up to their full potential? Just a thought.

  2. I never knew how much dough the woman was making. It makes a differece in how I see the story in relation to the church. Thank you! :)

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