Transformative Power of Yeast. Matthew 13.33
My dear mother was a fantastic cook-an old-fashioned, mid-western style cook. Her fruit pies were as legendary as her mashed potatoes and fried chicken gravy. She loved to eat about as much as she liked to cook, even though she was a small woman. Her favorite thing was warm sourdough bread and real butter, (we could only afford margarine). We lived a few miles from San Francisco, home of the best sourdough around, and Mom oft talked about making her own sourdough starter, though I don't know that she ever did. "To make sourdough, bakers use a "starter," a piece of dough in which yeast is continually reproducing with the help of regular doses of flour from the baker... after being prepared, a good starter can be saved, used and reused for years to come!"1
The fact is-yeast is a strange thing-what it is, what it looks like, and what it does. Baking with Fleischman's yeast, I remember tearing the corner off the little packet to be certain to carefully measure just the right amount for my recipe; I was always surprised how little yeast was required.2 Jesus had said that his Kingdom was like the mustard seed and its growth into a tree, and now he uses another element so familiar to his listeners-yeast.
13.33 He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough." Stop and picture 60 - 1 pound packages of Gold Medal Flour lined up on your kitchen counter; that is a lot of flour! So we are talking about a little yeast effecting change in a lot of dough!
We are talking about t-r-a-n-s-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n on a magnum scale. That is the scale that Jesus used to describe the transformative power of making Jesus our leader, the King of our lives.
O, to invite Jesus in to our worlds to let him come and do what only he can do! Check out this transformation from a first-hand account: "From the time I was a small child my life seemed to be filled with torment. When I was fourteen my mother was stricken with cancer; within several months she was dead. I had no other brothers or sisters, and so it was just me and my dad. He had to work ten hours a day, six days a week, so we spent very little time together. For the most part my mother had been my only source of stability. With her gone I was filled with anger, and my life quickly went downhill. I felt hopeless, and my periods of depression increased in intensity. I also became even more rebellious and began to cut out of school. My dad tried to help as best as he could, even managing to push me through high school. The day after I graduated, which was only a few weeks after my eighteenth birthday, I joined the Army, hoping to escape my problems and start a new life. But even in the service I had trouble coping, though I did manage to complete my three-year enlistment.
[At] twenty-two, I began to read the Satanic Bible. Innocently, I began to practice various occult rituals and incantations ...Eventually I crossed that invisible line of no return. After years of mental torment, behavioral problems, deep inner struggles, and my own rebellious ways, I became the criminal that, at the time, seemed to be my destiny.
Six people lost their lives as a result of my actions. Many others suffered at my hand, and will continue to suffer for a lifetime. I am so sorry for that. In 1978 I was convicted for my crimes and sentenced to about 365 consecutive years, virtually burying me alive behind prison walls.
Ten years into my prison sentence, feeling despondent and without hope, I was walking the prison yard on a cold winter's night when an inmate named Rick came up to me. He introduced himself and began to tell me that Jesus Christ loved me and wanted to forgive me. Although I knew he meant well I mocked him because I didn't think God would ever forgive me or want anything to do with me. Still Rick persisted, and we soon became friends. We often walked the yard together, and little by little he told me about his life and what he believed Jesus had done for him. He kept reminding me that no matter what we had done, Christ stood ready to forgive if we were willing to turn from the bad things we were doing and put our full faith and trust in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross-dying for our sins.
Rick gave me a Gideon's Pocket Testament and asked me to read the Psalms, which I did every night. It was during those times that the Lord quietly and gently melted my stone-cold heart. One night as I was reading Psalm 34 I came upon verse 6, which says, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." At that very moment in 1987 everything seemed to hit me all at once-the guilt from what I had done, the disgust at what I had become-and I began to pour out my heart to God. In my cold cell on that dark night I got down on my knees and cried out to Jesus Christ. I told Him I was sick and tired of doing evil. I asked Him to forgive me for all my sins. I spent a good while on my knees praying to Him, and when I got up it felt as if a very heavy but invisible chain that had been around me for so many years was now broken. A peace flooded over me. I did not understand what was happening, but in my heart I knew that my life was going to be different.
More than eighteen years have gone by since I had that first talk with
the Lord, and so many good things have happened in that time. Jesus Christ has allowed me to start an outreach ministry right here in the prison, where I have been given permission by prison officials to work in the "Intermediate Care Program" (ICP Unit) where men who have various emotional and coping problems are housed. I can pray with them as we read our Bibles together, and I get the chance to show them a lot of brotherly love and compassion. I have worked as the Chaplain's clerk . . . "
That was from David Berkowitz, New York City's paralyzing Son of Sam who became a redeemed child of God. From a little yeast-added to 60 pounds of flour.3 Thank you, Father!
1 - Exploratorium - https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-sourdough.html
2 - Yes, "was". I do not find myself baking much at all anymore.
3 - Son of Hope.com
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