The Yeast

Smell the Aroma?  

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10

Once, when my husband and I visited his sister and her husband, we were awakened to the wonderful aroma coming from their new bread-making machine. We’d anticipated the smell as we watched them fill the machine with flour, water, and yeast the night before. We quickly devouredbread-dough the loaf.

But Jesus’s audience would have been shocked when He said the kingdom of heaven was like “yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33). Jesus described the kingdom using the word yeast (leaven), which they associated with sin and corruption, dating back to the time of the Passover narrative of Exodus 12:1-20.

Jesus explained the parable of the Sower saying that He, the Son of Man, was the Sower, who had come to sow the word of God in the world. Later He explained that the evil one had not only interfered with the planted seeds but had also planted weeds among the wheat (13:18-30). Now, He implied that the wheat made into flour would be filled with corruption.

Many, if not most scholars, regard this parable as a picture of the kingdom of God working its way through the whole world and influencing it for good. Yet if you interpret the Bible with the Bible, yeast is consistently used as a picture of sin and corruption.

At one time I thought the church would gradually influence the whole world for good. However, instead of worldwide conversions, I see increasing opposition to Christianity, decreasing influence. But the greatest threat to the church comes from the corruption of the Word of God and impurity within its walls.

The kingdom of Heaven is not yet “on earth as it is in heaven.” One day all that is corrupt and evil will be removed and “then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear (Matthew 13:43).

Ask God to show you any corrupting influences that have crept into your walk with Him.


Jesus later tells His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6-12). What did He mean?

What corruption did Paul encounter as recorded in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13? What action did he recommend?

Contrast the growth of the kingdom by human efforts and the growth described in Mark 4:26-28.

See the use of leaven in bread offered at the temple in Two Pentecosts, Part Two. Why was it acceptable in this case?

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is part of a series, The Parables.

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