Bread Making 101
Reading Matthew 13, 14
Bread making is part science and part art. My mother used to make the best bread in the world. I have tried countless times, without success, to equal her. I have used her recipe, her pans, and her technique. But it never turns out like hers did. When messing with yeast, there is no room for cheating. Exact measuring is required. Too much, or too little, salt, sugar, or flour will give you a less than satisfactory product. If the liquid is too hot, or not hot enough, disaster could be the result. Too much kneading, or too little, can have an effect. Even altitude and atmospheric conditions can make a wreck of your bread. That yeast needs the right conditions to produce the expected results.
Jesus often used elements that were familiar to His audience to explain spiritual truths. As a boy he must have observed Mary in the kitchen making bread because He knew all about yeast.
Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33, NIV).
The Gospel, which is foundational to entrance into the Kingdom of God is like yeast–it needs the proper conditions to do what God intended it to do. And we, as God’s bread makers in the world’s largest bakery, provide the conditions for the mixing of that yeast. Sometimes we’re not too careful about following the directions exactly. We add a little too much sweetness and love, the “sugar,” and the urgency to the Gospel diminishes and the people put faith off for another day thinking it to be not all that important. Too much judgment, like salt, can also cause people to back away. Too much pressure, like kneading, also causes people to distance themselves while too little pressure equals few results at all. You get the picture.
It’s interesting to note that just a few chapters later in Matthew, Jesus uses yeast to describe something very different from the Gospel. He says: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6, NIV). Error can have just as powerful an impact on people as truth can. All it needs is the right conditions to flourish.
I left home when I was just seventeen so I’d didn’t have a lot of opportunity to work in the kitchen with my mother. Having the recipe, the pans, and handwritten instructions was all good, but would have been better if I had been with her, watched her, and allowed her to look over my shoulder and tutor me as I made the bread. So it is with handling the “yeast” of the Gospel and avoiding the “yeast” of error. Sticking close to the Master Baker and observing how He mixed judgment with mercy, forgiveness with faith, righteousness with reliance on Him alone, obedience with resting, and servanthood with the privilege of sons, all in perfect combination, is one way to provide the right conditions for sharing the Gospel and avoiding error. Submitting to Him and listening for His promptings and course corrections as to how we handle the truth that we want to present to others can also keep us from ending up with a less than successful result.
The truth is, even Jesus didn’t always see the results that He wanted despite the perfection of the Gospel and His presentation of it. In bread making, the atmospheric conditions can change the results even if all the other factors are perfect. I can’t change the weather, but I can make sure that all that does rely on me is looked after as well as is possible. The rest lies in more capable hands than mine.