33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” 34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”
Let’s work backwards in today’s passage, as Jesus’ quote from Psalm 78 will give us insight into His parable:
1 Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4 We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.
I’ve always struggled with Jesus teaching in parables but today we gain more insight into the methodology of His delivery system of Godly knowledge. Aside from fulfilling this prophecy, we learn in reading the Psalms reference that it is how God reveals things to us, not conceals them. Yes, there are things concealed from us and have been since the beginning of time, but Jesus’ revelations through these little explanations of how the Kingdom of God operates enlighten us of how His Kingdom is to look on earth as it is in heaven. One of the things I have been trying to wrap my head around for some time is not just what the Kingdom of God looks like, but what it is supposed to look like today in our lives. This is very important and is in fact Jesus’ core message while He was on earth. His ministry started with the phrase, “the Kingdom of Heaven is here.” Then, He started healing and teaching and unleashing all sorts of heaven on earth. We are called to be a continual part of that!
If we read the parable, we first find that the kingdom of heaven (the leaven) is first hid in the dough. It is there, but other than the woman (representing God in this parable) nobody can see it nor see any consequences of its presence. The Kingdom remains hidden until it is spread throughout all the dough (representing the population of the earth). Once the Kingdom is spread throughout, then it will become evident that there is leaven within the dough. We will recognize the Kingdom of God is among us. This is happening now; in Jesus’ time, many people didn’t understand what was happening. They knew miracles were being performed, but it wasn’t really until after Jesus ascended and the original disciples were covered with power from the Holy Spirit that we recognized God’s continued presence on earth.
Until now I have considered the parables as a way to keep God’s wisdom and knowledge from the people. We read that there are many who did not understand what He was saying; even His disciples asked for explanations. The parables are to reveal to us that God’s Kingdom is here. We would do well to pay attention to Jesus’ parables as they explain to us what it is like to live in God’s Kingdom here on earth. I would venture to say there is more wisdom in studying and understanding Jesus’ parables than the Old Testament proverbs. The proverbs offer us wisdom of how to live life in this world. The parables offer us direction in living life in God’s Kingdom.