Weekly Devotion – August 13, 2020

“Flat Bread or Biscuits”

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.” (Matthew 13:33)

What is Jesus describing in this parable that is so powerful that it can cause three batches of flour to rise? The simple answer is yeast! Yeast is more valuable than ever during these months of staying home. It can be quite difficult, indeed, to find yeast for your comfort baking. Yeast has an almost magical ability to cause pitiful, flat balls of dough to rise into loaves ready for baking. Jesus tells us that “the kingdom of heaven is like yeast.” The kingdom of heaven has the power to transform the properties and the flavor of the whole batch. To understand the metaphor we must know what, or perhaps who, the kingdom of heaven is. Jesus refers to the kingdom of heaven nearly two dozen times in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as a mustard seed that, though the smallest of seeds, when planted can grow into a shade tree. The kingdom of heaven is a treasure and a pearl, so valuable you would sell everything to have it. Children, the poor in spirit, and those who are persecuted are all welcome in the kingdom while the rich, powerful, and overly religious may find it difficult to find their way in. Each of these parables cause us to wonder where this kingdom is and how we can get through the gate. If we rewind to the first two places in Matthew where the kingdom is referenced, we realize the kingdom is not as much a place as a person. 

As Jesus came to the Jordan, John the Baptist announced his arrival by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). A chapter later Jesus introduces himself and invites persons to turn toward him with the same words (Matthew 4:17). 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry the kingdom of heaven walked among the people. In the life of Jesus, the kingdom of heaven stretched from the resources of heaven to the seaside of Galilee and the hills of Jerusalem. In the life of Jesus, we see the love, the righteousness, and the justice of the kingdom embodied and transforming the lives of the community around him. In this age of the Spirit we do not have the incarnate kingdom to walk beside us, but the kingdom of heaven is with us as we live in relationship with Jesus. The kingdom can still break in as we respond to the call, “repent, the kingdom of heaven is near.”  We can each turn away from less important – and even distracting and selfish – things and turn towards Jesus. We can pray what Jesus taught us to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” As we pray, we place the flat, unremarkable dough of our lives into the hands of God, who can knead the transforming properties of the kingdom all through us. We can rise beyond ourselves to become people through which the kingdom of heaven can be experienced in this life.

We hope you will consider doing a little baking this weekend. As you watch something yummy rise, invite Jesus to be the yeast in your life and to work through every morsel of you, until you are experiencing the joy of the kingdom of heaven and sharing that joy with those around you. 

Ever-rising, Pastor Jenny & Pastor Ian