The mystery of yeast
Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20,21; BCBC/IOUC; 2/14/2021; Rev. Paul Wang
Yeast is an ordinary ingredient for bakeries. Middle eastern people make naan; Asians eat steamed buns, steamed stuffed buns, and etc. These foods all rely on yeast. Yeast itself has no problem, but our mindsets and motivations might be wrong. Jesus compared the heavenly kingdom with yeast, referring to the degree the gospel is spreading, the degree of revealing the authority, and the degree of church development. Let’s see the first point:
An ordinary woman
Jesus’ choice of making the comparison with yeast contains a mystery.
1.1 Start from the family
The Bible says, “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. Then what? First to the Jew, then to the Gentile”. So Jesus walked through many cities and towns, visiting every Jewish family. Peter, Andrew, James, and John met the Lord at their home. The Lord even called them out from their fishing boats. Cenacle on Mount Zion is where the last supper, the order of the Holy Communion, the coming of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost takes place. Regimes of all ages persecuted the church, so believers have to meet at their home. The seed of yeast started from home. This is the mystery of the Heavenly Kingdom. Do you understand it? Would you like to open your home for the sake of sharing gospel, if your condition is available.
1.2 a woman took
It could be “a servant took” or “a brother took” which are the common situations. However, it emphasized “a woman took”. The two thousand years of church history remind us that our sisters have been assigned to a range of completely different roles, after the Lord has come. Peter’s mother in law was sick. Jesus healed her, and then she started to serve. Jesus Christ has served for 3 years, following by many women who support and serve the Lord. When Paul was on missionary, there was a dealer in purple cloth, Lydia, supporting his missionary. Looking at today’s church, do we have more women than men? Other than encouraging sisters, it might be God’s plan to challenge the brothers. If the brothers do not stand up, there will still be a breach. Would you like to stand up and fix the breach?
1.3 Hidden in sixty pounds of flour
People who are not bakers might not know that traditionally yeast is a piece of old dough, leaving in the flour for the next time. It is the same reason for churches and the development of churches. When they met persecution, they became stronger, waiting to sprout out. In 1974, Jiang Qing told foreign reporters “we have eradicated the Christianity”. However, when she was sent to jail, churches were hidden in believer’s homes. Gospel was hidden in each home’s “sixty pounds flour”. When the time came, when counting the number of believers, in 1979 China had 5 million believers. The United front work department and the officer of administration for religious affairs said, “we didn’t expect there will be so many church members after the severe culture revolution.” Unbelievers cannot understand this spiritual mystery and overlook the sixty pounds of flour in each family.
Let’s see the second point:
Time and space of waiting
To leaven the dough, you have to wait, right? You have to bear the spiritual fruit of endure in order to wait.
2.1 Wait for the Lord
Not only me but the poet also said: “Wait for the Lord;be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)” Why do we have to wait for the Lord? It is simply because He is Jehovah. The Jews might think who asked this question is weird. The Lord who created heaven and earth deserves your waiting. Christians should think it is a matter of course. He not only created the universe, but also sacrificed His life on the cross, showing the love of God. With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Do you understand the meaning? If you are waiting for Jehovah, do you need to worry? or scared? or worrying how people would see you? or losing their face? or being misjudged? or no justice? or no money? How could you be afraid of everything except your Lord?
2.2 Wait for the whole church
The key to leaven the dough is to let it work all through the dough, never leaven the dough unevenly. Church life is the same: avoid doing things alone. We might have some good ideas but the church is not ready for it. Why do you think you are wiser? Did God want you to be arrogant so He lets you know something ahead? Why can’t you wait until it worked all through the dough? Prophets in the OT usually did not have a peaceful death, because they know things ahead. NT churches do not have the position of prophet, but only the gift of prophecy. However, some people still provoke the wrath of God, against the Word of God, increasing some false prophets and false apostles who are commanding the church and challenging the authority of God.
2.3 Until it worked all through
The revival of the church is the evidence of it. What are the signs for the church’s revival? I think there are at least 3 signs: 1. preaching the gospel with the same mindset, 2. magnifying the Lord with the Bible as the standard, 3. and loving one another, sharing testimonies.
Let’s see the third point.
Promise of growth
What is the promise of growth for a church? Actually the Bible already told us: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8) Please do not be cliche, but “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
3.1 The Holy Spirit in control
When we ignore the ability of the Holy Spirit, we leave a breach for Satan. In the plan of salvation, the Father sets the plan and the Son carries it out, while the Holy Spirit completes it. So, the book of Act is talking about the actions of the Holy Spirit, right? When the Lord left the world to return to the Father, He gave the Holy Spirit to us and together we completed the plan of salvation. I want to ask: are we letting the Holy Spirit in control? The sign of the Holy Spirit in control is God is glorified and people’s hearts are soft, bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit and gospel. For ourselves, we should not smell like the flesh, not listen to the temper, and not see hostility.
3.2 receive power
When we got the ability of the Holy Spirit, his or her own ability disappeared or decreased. From the circle of gospel, human’s sinful nature would prevent us from relying on the ability of the Holy Spirit. It lets us care more about our own business and let us be trapped in Jerusalem defined by ourselves. Only a few churches walked out of the land of Judah, not even Samaria. We only let the pastor buy a flight ticket to the furthest land; brothers and sisters stay in their comfort zone. After 2000 years, God cannot see this any more. Maybe He is using this pandemic to wake up us who stay in our comfort zone. Are you awake now?
3.3 Witness for God
Our international online united church is established for this reason, from Jerusalem to the whole land of Judah, Samaria, to the end of the land. Actually, the circle of gospel in this verse did not contain a separation of time. We can witness for our Lord at the same time globally. We can share the gospel in China, establish churches in Nordic, do disciples training in New Zealand, and care for our local church. The witness is not a plane anymore, but a three-dimensional and comprehensive missionary that is full of challenges.
Dear brothers and sisters, the mystery of yeast is until it worked all through the church. Not to make a fortune of the world, but to work it all through the dough of the gospel. It is not initiated by a single person, also it is not the show off of heroism. It is the whole church members running on the heaven pathway together. Let the Holy Spirit guide us, and enter a “round-the-clock” ecology environment of the gospel. Be prepared in season and out of season, always save some people. Will you?
Let us pray……
13:20 又說、我拿甚麼來比 神的國呢．