Jesus Feeding the 5,000

A daily devotion for May 19th

The Sneaky Housewife

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.

Matthew 13:33

This is a parable which has been greatly misinterpreted — that the leaven is the gospel and the woman is the church. The church puts the gospel into the world of humanity — the three measures [sixty pounds] of meal. The gospel will work like yeast in bread, until all humanity is reached by the gospel and the whole world is changed. Then the kingdom of heaven will come in.

Though that's the most popular interpretation, it is absolutely wrong! From that interpretation people have thought that the church would introduce the millennium to the world and bring in the kingdom, that the gospel would so permeate the affairs and thinking of men that Christian moral standards would be accepted worldwide.

But listening to this story as that crowd did, we see that interpretation is wrong. Jesus is using a common picture from any Hebrew household. Everyone present knew that this woman did an evil, sneaky thing, hiding this leaven in the meal. The meal is a symbol of the fellowship of God with his people, and of their fellowship with one another, a beautiful picture of commonality of life. These Jews knew instantly that this meal offering was to be unleavened. Leaven is used all through the Old Testament, but never as a symbol of anything good. Everyone knew this woman had no business putting leaven into this meal. It would destroy the very meaning of this offering, for Scripture had taught them that the meal was to be unleavened.

For the centuries to come, the Lord sees what is most precious to God about the work he himself has begun among humanity — the fellowship of God with his people; the sharing of life with each other and with God. Into that wonderful fellowship false, evil principles are introduced by those responsible for preserving this fellowship — the leaders of the church! It is they who introduce this leaven, permitting it, not excluding it as they should. Those charged with responsibility for developing the fellowship of God's people nevertheless allow hypocrisy, formalism, ritualism, rationalism, materialism, legalism, and immorality to come in. When these things get into a church, they destroy the fellowship of God's people. This is why churches often become cold and unfriendly — there's no genuine fellowship. Too often on the most superficial basis people sit in the congregation, not as members together of one family, but as individuals, listening to a service but not relating to each other. That isn't Christianity as it is intended to be manifested. That isn't sharing each other's concerns, bearing one another's burdens, confessing our faults one to another, or praying for one another that we may be healed. This isn't the great fellowship that our Lord is seeking.

Thank you, Father, for the beautiful symbol of the fellowship of your people given in the three measures of meal. Grant me, Lord, a putting away of the leaven in order that the sweetness and beauty of your life may be evident in my fellowship with others.

Life Application

Do I look at my church as a family? Do I share other's concerns, bear other's burdens, confess my faults and pray for others?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

The Case of the Sneaky Housewife

Listen to Ray