Jesus was masterful in taking everyday events and turning them into major life lessons. This was especially true regarding his parables concerning what the Kingdom of Heaven was like. Everyone understood what Jesus was talking about because he took his scenes right out of everyday life. Barclay explains the Kingdom parables this way, “He took the parable of the sower from the farmer’s field and the parable of the mustard seed from the husbandman’s garden; he took the parable of the wheat and the tares from the perennial problem which confronts the farmer in his struggle with the weeds, and the parable of the drag-net from the seashore of the Sea of Galilee. He took the parable of the hidden treasure from the everyday task of digging in a field, and the parable of the pearl of great price from the world of commerce and trade.” Barclay then suggests that the parable of the leaven is even more masterful. He writes, “But in this parable of the leaven Jesus came nearer home than in any other because he took it from the kitchen of an ordinary house.” This is what we read in Matthew 13:33, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven (sour dough) which a woman took and covered over in three measures of meal or flour till all of it was leavened.”

Although some want to see leaven as a permanent illustration of sin as it usually is, here it is cast in a positive light. Jesus is explaining that just as leaven permeates the entire lump of dough, so too will the gospel message and the Kingdom of God permeate the entire world. One major observation concerns the difference between the beginning and the end. It starts small, like the mustard seed, but the growth is remarkable. To many, this contrast is the point of the parable. But I see another point based on Jesus explanation to Peter about the building of His Church. He explains that although Satan will come against it with all his forces, he will not prevail. The Church will continue to grow in spite of all the opposition. You see, once Jesus planted His church, the permeation is unstoppable. Just as bread cannot be “unleavened” the existence, growth, and victory of God’s kingdom is inevitable.

Don’t miss another truth associated with leaven. As one molecule of bread becomes leavened it transmits the effect to the particle next to it, and so on. It is the process God chose to advance His kingdom. Once we, the individual elements become leavened and vitalized by God’s grace, we pass that on to others around us. It’s the great purpose that Christ has for our lives. Jesus tells us all “go, make disciples…” Alexander Maclaren writes, “The Gospel needs to be passed through human lips in order that it may reach deaf ears. The purpose for which we have been apprehended of Christ is not merely our own personal salvation, whether we understand that in a narrow and more outward, or in a broader and more spiritual sense. No man is an end in himself, but every man, though he be partially and temporarily an end, is also a means.”