Throughout Scripture, yeast is used to describe puffed up arrogance, human pride that’s void of power, hot air instead of true substance. At Passover, Jewish families would search the house and get rid of all leaven, all yeast. Jesus warned the disciples to “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” because their pride twisted their view of Scripture and made their teaching arrogant and powerless. (Matt 16:11-12)
Yeast: Powerful, Infecting and Life-Changing
But here Jesus uses the metaphor of how yeast affects dough in a completely new and positive way. “Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." (Luke 13:20-21 NIV)
Here, Jesus uses yeast as a metaphor to describe how the power of His Kingdom spreads from one person to another, infecting and transforming them in the process. When a little yeast is mixed into a large amount of dough, given enough time, the entire lump becomes affected, or “infected”, by the yeast. When the message of His Kingdom is mixed into the human heart it has the power to change lives!
“New Covenant Grace"
How Does the Yeast of the Kingdom Mix Into Human Hearts?
Rom 10:14: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? NIV
When Paul wrote this, he was not talking about “preaching” as we tend to think of preaching in the 21st century, or the 20th century, or even the 1st century. He was not referring to someone with “Rev.” in front of their name, standing behind a pulpit in a church building, giving a three point sermon with illustrations. Until the 4th century there were no church buildings with pulpits to stand behind.
Paul was describing what happened when ordinary people simply talked about the Good News to other ordinary people, and other ordinary people believed and were “infected” with Christ. That’s what Paul did, traveling from town to town, talking to people as he worked making tents, or while in the market as people shopped, or down by the river as people washed their clothes. He talked passionately about the Good News that had infected Him with the life of God. And those who believed what he talked about were also infected, transformed; and they began to talk passionately about it. And the infection spread.
What Did Paul Mean: “Preach the Gospel”?
Definitions matter. We can’t get the results they got unless we believe what they believed. We can’t believe what they believed unless we define words the way they defined them. Since there were no church buildings and no church pulpits, we know what Paul did not mean when he said “preach”; so what did he mean?
To preach - Greek: “to proclaim, to declare, to speak about with passion.”
If we take this idea out of the realm of religion and the context of modern church, we know exactly what this means and how it works in the real world.
And often, our enthusiasm about a great product infects or influences them, causing them to believe and go out to buy the same thing. But in this case, when we talk passionately about the power of New Covenant grace, which is the miracle of Christ in them, people start to believe and the miracle begins.
How amazing! The Almighty God has chosen to use the “foolishness of people passionately speaking” about His grace to spread the wonderful “infection” of Christ coming to live in and through those who choose to believe. Believe what? Believe what is being “passionately spoken about”; believe what is being “preached”; believe in the living Word of God!
Infection doesn’t Depend on Knowledge, Just Exposure
It doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers. You don’t even have to have most of them. Because infection doesn’t depend on great knowledge, just exposure!
Simply tell people what it means for you to know the Father loves you completely, no matter what. Tell them how it makes you feel to be on this amazing journey of learning how to let Christ live in and through you. And tell them passionately, but with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
“…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (passionately speaking about it) to save them that believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21)
Preach it, my friend. Just passionately speak about it, and the Kingdom will spread!
Mark Drake is an internationally known author, teacher and leader. He focuses on equipping leaders around the world in New Covenant Grace.