Jesus tried in many ways to help his followers understand what he meant when he talked about the Kingdom of God. In today’s Gospel from Luke, Jesus provides two images, the second one being that the Kingdom of God is “like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”
Talking about Jesus’ efforts to explain the kingdom, Louis Savary writes
Some of Jesus’ images for the kingdom emphasize things that grow an develop organically, like a bush emerging from a seed, or yeast gradually permeating all the elements of the bread dough. Neither of these images implies a numerical growth but rather emphasizes a kind of organic development or an evolving process.
The process thought resonates with me. Yeast has to do its thing for the bread to rise. It is not enough for it to simply be spread throughout the dough, it needs time to work and the dough is not the same from one minute to the next.
But that still leaves some questions unanswered. Who is the woman? Who is the yeast? Perhaps Jesus is the starter years and we are the rest of the yeast? Is God then the women? If so, one suggestion is that whatever the Kingdom is, God does not do it all on his own, but relies on us.
The other thing that always strikes my attention in this image is three measure of flour. I had always imagined that as three cups of flour, until I read that three measures is about two gallons of flour. As anyone who bakes bread knows, two gallons would make a lot of loaves of bread! One commentator I read suggests that Old Testament references to that amount would have made Jesus’ audience think of hospitality. That amount would represent service and devotion to others. Or does it simply convey the enormity of God’s plan?
Perhaps you have some other questions of thoughts when you hear these words of Jesus.’
I may not be able to explain it satisfactorily, but because I bake bread, there is excitement about Kingdom in this parable for me. What I hear God say at that is: Your excitement at that is nothing compared to my excitement about the Kingdom!