Yeast, a matter of life and death…

For me, one of the strangest comparisons in the Bible is in Matthew 13:33, where the kingdom of heaven is compared to a woman mixing yeast into dough. It seems like such a strange way to describe the kingdom of heaven…so why did Jesus use this comparison? What was he trying to teach us through this parable?

Matthew 13:33
“He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

What is the yeast? What is the woman? In order to understand the lesson of this parable we have to understand these things spiritually.

Matthew 16:6-12 [abbrev.]

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? […] How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Physical yeast brings about change in whatever it is mixed into – the fermentation of yeast creates the alcohol in beer, yeast mixed into dough reacts to create bread. But Jesus was speaking spiritually, not physically. The logic of spiritual yeast is the same as that of physical yeast. Spiritually it refers to teachings that bring about change in those who hear and accept it – good or bad, depending on the teachings.

Since  the parable is meant to be understood spiritually, with the yeast being spiritual yeast, surely the woman has to be referring to a spiritual ‘woman’…

Galatians 4:19 says, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” Here Paul is speaking as though he is a woman in the pains of childbirth. Paul had received the spiritual seed (the word) from Jesus, therefore he was in the position of a woman – the one who receives the seed. He then “gave birth” to the believers in Galatia. From this we can understand a spiritual woman to be a teacher or pastor, the one who received the seed and then ‘gives birth’ to believers or congregation members.

The Pharisees would have been spiritual women, however, the disciples were warned to guard against the yeast of the Pharisees (Mt 16:12). This implies there are not only different types of ‘women’ (teachers), but also different types of yeast (teachings), and depending on which teachings you receive, it brings about different types of change.

At the time of the first coming, receiving the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees – the leaders and teachers of the law – led to spiritual death. They belonged to the devil, and spread his lies and false teachings: John 8:44

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

On the flip side, Jesus’ words and teachings gave life: John 6:63

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

I always knew too much beer and bread was not good for me, but who would have thought that consuming ‘yeast’ could be a matter of life and death…

From bread baskets to six-packs and everything in between, what is your indulgence (or staple…there’s no judgment here)? I’ll go first…


21 thoughts on “Yeast, a matter of life and death…

  1. I love those bread baskets you get before a meal at restaurants…I could eat the whole basket before anyone else even had a chance to butter their bun (my friends have learnt to just ask for 2 baskets from the get go…it’s survival of the fittest when those baskets arrive!)

    I also love chocolate (the darker the better) :)

  2. Amen! Great Post!!

    The preaching of the gospel works like leaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven works certainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently, and without being seen, Mark
    4:26-29, yet strongly; without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail.

    I just love bread, and pizza too! Cheese seems to be the glue that binds the leaven to my soul (or at least my stomach).

    • Haha, too funny :)
      Teachings definitely bring about change in people – unfortunately there are not only good teachings… I guess that is why, so frequently, we are warned to watch out we are not deceived (wolves in sheep’s clothing etc – Mt 7:15 to name but one)

  3. Interesting, thought provoking post.

    For me, it’s definitely cheese and… biltong and droëwors(biltong is like American beef-jerkey I think… and dröewors can be translated to dry-sausage I guess..? Wow, I guess you really have to try it to find out:-) It’s made really well in South Africa. If you google, you’ll find. Lol.

  4. Hi HL, thanks for sharing this =)
    –I have a question.
    So you’re saying the “woman” spoken of, is any people who follow Christ and teach according to his words and teachings?

    –I like dark chocolate and bread too (wheat rolls esp.)

    • Hi Jayme, I see we have the same taste (or cravings), haha!

      About the “woman”. To put it very simply, it is basically the one who has the teachings (the teacher), and who looks after their spiritual children. However, becuase there are 2 kinds of teachings (truth and lies), there are also 2 kinds of teachers (who have received the ‘seed’ from 2 different sources). This is a very basic explanataion, and I hope it helps.
      It is really tough trying get all the info into a post coherently without writing an epistle.
      You are always welcome to email me if you want to discuss anything in greater detail :)

      Let me know if this reply makes any sense or if you wanna chat further…I’m always up for a chat!

  5. You are correct in that leaven will work through the entirety of teh dough that it is placed in causing a change there. If the teachings are biblical and sound then the life produced will grow in grace and more closely mirror Christ as time passes.

    If the teaching is unsound then the whole foundation is shaky and a little error will eventually lead to greater error.

    • I totally agree Luther, that is why we are warned so often to watch out that we are not deceived – we have to make sure that we are hearing and accepting God’s word of truth.
      Even a few misunderstandings can corrupt the truth – just like one drop of poison contaminates a whole glass of pure water.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, glad to have you stop by :)

  6. Hey HL,

    What an insightful post. Thanks for sharing. I too, think that it’s so important to take everything to the Word. I was reminded of 1 Thess 5:20-22.

    For me it’s pizza or cupcakes….yum.

    • I like your name (and your blog, which I have been reading)
      I also really like your verse reference, great passage!
      Mmmm…cupcakes, yum! (and pizza too)
      Thanks for popping over and commenting :)

      • Thank you! I like your name, too! And, I appreciate that a lot. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. This is a very intelligent piece of writing, congrats. I seem to have found myself measuring what I hear other bloggers and pastors teaching against what I read here on your blog, and I must say, if Job 34:3 has anything to say about it, you are a very blessed person. And, a blessing.

    As for my indulgence… coffee. coffee, coffee, coffee… no sugar, no milk. Just coffee.
    Gotta go get me a mug of the stuff now.
    hopefully, when I get back you will have written again!^^

    • Wow, thank you so much for the kinds words Namunip. I have been amazingly blessed by this word, and so it makes me really happy to hear that it’s a blessing to others as well.

      I hope you enjoyed your coffee :) next post will be up soon!

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