In our passage today Jesus uses the metaphor of yeast, but maybe not the way you are expecting. The Pharisees and Sadducees come to test Jesus and to look for a sign from heaven. Jesus leaves that conversation and reminds the disciples to beware of the yeast of the Sadducees and Pharisees. It’s easy to confuse this metaphor of yeast with that of bread & yeast, which the disciples fall into, reflecting us back to the feeding of the five thousand and four thousand.
Yeast: it grows and leavens. It is a living organism that multiplies. In the feeding of the five thousand and the number of baskets gathered afterward, we see the signs of heaven that Jesus institutes. The “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” is one of exclusion and reverse growth, not expanding God’s grace, but reducing the grace of God to rules and “don’ts”.
The ministry of Jesus is clear. More than just feeding the poor, it is a message of good news and inclusion that brings in even the Gentiles, the farmers, the sick and afflicted. It brings in the people from the fringes of society. How bold.
We just had a presbytery meeting. Indian Nations presbytery has had it struggles over the years. Trust is low. All we do is fight. I also routinely hear people upset about the General Assembly’s decisions, our highest governing body which is about to start meeting. So schedule in the annual belly-aching. Here it comes!
I, on the other hand, have always trusted in our process, and trusted our presbytery and General Assembly. I have met commissioners and delegates over the years. These are often people wise beyond their years. They have seen and understood the yeast of Jesus’ gospel. My prayer with all our leaders, and whatever level they serve, that they are ready and willing to put their faith into action.
Now is the time to speak and act boldly like Jesus – to step out in our faith.
Sometimes leadership means bold steps. It means stepping out and often taking unpopular stands. It means standing against the political sways to and fro. It means listening to Christ’s clear call to share the gospel in all times and places.
The yeast of the gospel has spilled over into our lives. It drives us to praise and thanksgiving. But it also drives us to continue on a road of inclusion and grace, welcoming the stranger, the poor, the afflicted, the brokenhearted.
Is Jesus’ gospel a “social gospel”? You bet it is.