Study Guide: Kingdom Starters

Sunday May 10, 2020 | Osheta Moore

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

From the parable of the yeast, Jesus is teaching us about how the Kingdom of God works. Instead of expanding with landmark gestures and grandiose acts, it infiltrates life in small ways, often hidden from view, but as it expands, it actually touches every part of life.

Extended Summary:

In this sermon, Osheta engages the parable of the yeast as a way to help us understand what God is doing in our lives during this pandemic. In this parable, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to something that starts out small, as with yeast in a large bag of flour, and expands throughout the entire batch of dough. It does not begin large and with lots of fanfare. It starts out small and unseen, and eventually invades everything. The yeast in bread turns plain flour from something that is inedible into something delicious and appealing.

In some cases in the Bible, leavening is used as an image of sin that can infiltrate one’s life. This is seen, for example, in Hosea 11. However, Jesus’ parable is not using the leaven itself to demonstrate how the Kingdom works, but the emphasis lies on how the leaven spreads. The way that the leaven works is the crucial point. Adopting the way of the Kingdom of God works like leaven, as it has the potential to slowly invade every aspect of life that it touches. The Kingdom of God will touch others that we meet and change every part of our individual lives.

When we consider specific aspects of this parable, we see the following details. First, the woman is highlighted. We are invited to enter into the space of someone who is different from ourselves, one who can show us something that we do not expect. She is a Kingdom starter. Jesus uses a woman and women’s work to teach theology. To his audience, this would have been met with intense disapproval, far more than it would be today. The Kingdom of God elevates women and women’s work to put it front and center. Because Jesus invited his audience into the space of an unexpected person, we too are challenged to enter into the space of those we don’t expect, and there discover the Kingdom of God.

Secondly, we need to examine the flour itself. The flour of a particular home will have a direct impact upon the taste of the bread. This relates to the environment in which the Kingdom is at work. God expresses himself in unique ways depending upon every unique environment. This pertains to the many differences that we all have, as God manifests his Kingdom depending upon the unique traits of every person and every community. God works with and through the environment, not against it.

Third, we need to understand that small influences have a great effect. Yeast has an influence that is disproportionate to its size. The thing that seems small and hidden infiltrates the world in subtle and powerful ways. It moves from one person to another, without the expectations of having to make a massive impact. This is especially important to realize during this pandemic, when something huge and history-changing is going on, resulting in feelings of powerlessness and fear. This is a practical way to see how God is at work. As Kingdom people we remember that through small things, God’s change will come about.

The Kingdom changes us in small ways, those that often seem to go unnoticed. It’s the small acts of prayer, the small choices to forgive, the small acts of kindness that change who we are.

Reflection Questions: