Like Leaven

“Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matthew 13:33).

Jesus and the disciples were on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He had spoken unto them the parable of the sower, of the tares, and of the mustard seed. Now, he speaks the little parable of the leaven.

“It is the property of leaven,” says J. W McGarvey, “that it quietly but certainly diffuses itself through the mass in which it is placed. The kingdom of heaven is like that, in that it spreads itself in like manner through human society. This parable is also prophetic and its fulfillment is constantly going on. The reason why three measures of meal are supposed, rather than any other number, is doubtless because this was the quantity that the women usually made up for one baking and the reason why a woman rather than a man is mentioned is because it was the business of the women to make bread.

  1. The Master had said that a good life is like salt, i.e., a conservative influence (Matthew 5:13). His very presence in a community helps to preserve all that is good and wholesome in that community. By him the tendency to moral decay is arrested. How important it is for a wholesome person to remain wholesome!
  2. And now he teaches that a good life is like leaven, i.e., a silent, an unseen, an irresistible influence that slowly but surely permeates the sum of society. By his speech and manner of life the Christian purifies and ennobles the people around him.
  3. He had said that a good life is like light, i.e., an aggressive influence (Matthew 5:14-16). From his personality, goodness, and intelligence emanate. He is a great worker for God, and his works are light. Since light is such a powerful thing, it should not be concealed.

Frank L. Cox