Matthew 13: 33
33 He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
A few years back my son and I took up beer brewing as something we would do together from time to time. One of the ingredients needed for brewing beer, and perhaps the most important, is yeast. It is the yeast that ferments the beer and produces the alcohol and some of the carbonation. It also provides a distinct flavor to the brew. If the yeast fails, the beer fails. As I read the parable for today, I wondered about yeast in bread. If yeast in beer produces alcohol, what does it do in bread? Here you go.
This according to “What’s Cooking America?”
The main purpose of yeast [in bread dough] is to serve as a catalyst in the process of fermentation, which is essential in the making of bread. The purpose of any leavener is to produce the gas that makes bread rise. Yeast does this by feeding on the sugars in flour, and expelling carbon dioxide in the process. As the yeast feeds on the sugar, it produces carbon dioxide. With no place to go but up, this gas slowly fills the balloon. A very similar process happens as bread rises. Carbon dioxide from yeast fills thousands of balloon-like bubbles in the dough. Once the bread has baked, this is what gives the loaf its airy texture.
So, yeast makes the bread expand. It makes the bread rise. If the yeast fails, the bread does not rise. We want the yeast to work!
What is interesting about this parable is that it talks about yeast in a positive light. Most every place else in the Bible, yeast is spoken of as an evil invader that “ferments” trouble in God’s kingdom. So why the change?
Jesus wants us to know that the kingdom, once it invades a person or community, “ferments” so that faith expands or rises and fills. And it might add a bit of flavor as well.
During this Advent, think about the yeast of Jesus expanding, rising and filling your life.