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The Parable of the Yeast

20 And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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The Widow of Nain.

18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?   19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.   20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?   21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.   22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Here is, I. The gospel's progress foretold in two parables, which we had before, Matt. xiii. 31-33. The kingdom of the Messiah is the kingdom of God, for it advances his glory; this kingdom was yet a mystery, and people were generally in the dark, and under mistakes, about it. Now, when we would describe a thing to those that are strangers to it, we choose to do it by similitudes. "Such a person you know not, but I will tell you whom he is like;" so Christ undertakes here to show what the kingdom of God is like (v. 18): "Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? v. 20. It will be quite another thing from what you expect, and will operate, and gain its point, in quite another manner." 1. "You expect it will appear great, and will arrive at its perfection all of a sudden; but you are mistaken, it is like a grain of mustard-seed, a little thing, takes up but little room, makes but a little figure, and promises but little; yet, when sown in soil proper to receive it, it waxes a great tree," v. 19. Many perhaps were prejudiced against the gospel, and loth to come in to the obedience of it, because its beginning was so small; they were ready to say of Christ, Can this man save us? And of his gospel, Is this likely ever to come to any thing? Now Christ would remove this prejudice, by assuring them that though its beginning was small its latter end should greatly increase; so that many should come, should come upon the wing, should fly like a cloud, to lodge in the branches of it with more safety and satisfaction than in the branches of Nebuchadnezzar's tree, Dan. iv. 21. 2. "You expect it will make its way by external means, by subduing nations and vanquishing armies, though it shall work like leaven, silently and insensibly, and without any force or violence, v. 21. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump; so the doctrine of Christ will strangely diffuse its relish into the world of mankind: in this it triumphs, that the savour of the knowledge of it is unaccountably made manifest in every place, beyond what one could have expected, 2 Cor. ii. 14. But you must give it time, wait for the issue of the preaching of the gospel to the world, and you will find it does wonders, and alters the property of the souls of men. By degrees the whole will be leavened, even as many as are, like the meal to the leaven, prepared to receive the savour of it."

II. Christ's progress towards Jerusalem recorded: He went through the cities and villages, teaching and journeying, v. 22. Here we find Christ an itinerant, but an itinerant preacher, journeying towards Jerusalem, to the feast of dedication, which was in the winter, when travelling was uncomfortable, yet he would be about his Father's business; and therefore, whatever cities or villages he could make in his way, he gave them a sermon or two, not only in the cities, but in the country villages. Wherever Providence brings us, we should endeavour to be doing all the good we can.