Hello and welcome to the STC Foundations Daily podcast.
My name is Tom Flynn, I’m a youth worker for STC Sheffield and this week I’m the first of five voices you’ve probably heard a little less than our usual crowd. This week as we continue through Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells a series of intricate stories called Parables as a way of explaining God’s heart to his people.
Matthew chapter 13, verse 33 says this: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about 60 pounds of flour until it worked all throughout the dough.”
I love a good metaphor. And while using them badly can make simple things hard to understand and even harder to listen to, used well they reveal depth and soul to an otherwise empty concept. Jesus could have just said that God, given a foothold in your life, will change who you are and how you interact with the world, but by talking about the proverbial yeast in this passage I’m going to make it last six whole minutes.
But as we pull the bread apart, there are three beautiful truths that Jesus conveys in the passage that might not otherwise be obvious.
First: Much like yeast fills flour with life, Jesus is alive and fills us with His life. We may be a little past ‘bread week’, but those who have seen bread prove will know that dough with an active ingredient such as yeast will double or triple in size before it gets cooked. In the same way, as we encounter God, his presence inspires us to grow. To grow in love, in joy, to grow in peace and mercy. When God works within us, we become so much more than we would ever have imagined we could be. As we take this into the places of struggle, suddenly we can take the heat.
The second truth is this: Yeast only reveals what the flour could be. You see, flour does not cease to be flour and we don’t cease to be us. When the spirit inspires and changes us, it only perfects what God had already made beautiful. I don’t know if you ever go into a day feeling like you just aren’t enough, but as God made you, you are amazing in ways you have yet to realise. You are his beloved child, he adores you as you are and he always made you to be none other than you. Wherever you are today, remember how loved you are. That you, personally you, were fearfully and wonderfully made.
Lastly, a reminder that the yeast of the Kingdom of Heaven is powerfully active wherever we mix it in. As we approach anything in our day, we should remember that God will work in anything of us that we allow him. The God who gives us life, who grows and perfects us, who loves us beyond death itself and wants nothing but our everything. So when I drop a pen under my desk, do I ask God to help me find it, when everything seems lost and control goes out the window, do I ask God for His peace and His power? Do I allow God to the places in me that I feel can never be redeemed and let Him change the parts of me that I already consider perfect? Bread with gross clumps of unmixed flour is a sad thing to find on the shelf. But God himself would stoop beyond even the messiest parts of our hearts.
You see, Jesus never spoke in Parables to convey less and a woman making a mountain of bread, from but the smallest of influences, tells more in one sentence than I could speak in 6 minutes. The richness of God’s work within us has led to thousands upon thousands of songs, preaches, books and works of art. My challenge today is not to focus on the things I have said, but to take them into account and ask yourself how a small influence by the Spirit of God within us could bring eternal and unknowable change to our friends, our colleagues, the people we see each day.
Let us Pray: Lord, thank you that you are working within us each and every day, perfecting us and making us more like you. I pray today that you would provide opportunities for us to speak to others of your transformative power in our lives. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 13:24-43
Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.
‘The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?”
‘“An enemy did this,” he replied.
‘The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”
‘“No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”’
He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’
He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
‘I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’
Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.’
He answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
‘As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.