There’s a reason why fine restaurants employ a “pastry chef” to prepare the baked goods they serve. Baking, unlike most other cooking is a combination of science and art. It requires knowledge, experience, precision and artistic ability, not to mention patience. I love fresh baked muffins in the morning, so once the weather turns cool, I get up early and can have them mixed and baked in less than 30 minutes. However, making muffins is not real baking because the art of baking is in the yeast or leavening. I’ve tried to make bread in the past but it was always, at best, a disappointment and more often, an outright flop.
Yeast is what provides the texture; taste and life in good bread and the yeast cultures that are used in baking are actually alive, so to speak. I came home with outdated yeast packets from the grocery store once and my wife gave me an education on the subject. It’s no wonder then, that Christ employed the metaphor of bread and yeast about himself and His teaching. When Jesus fed thousands with only seven loaves of bread, he was demonstrating that as the “bread of life,” He was able to satisfy all those who are hungry for His word, delivering them from sin which if left unsatisfied, ultimately leads to eternal death. Christ’s provision is sufficient to satisfy and to save. But in Matthew, chapter sixteen, Jesus makes specific reference to yeast and speaks of a leavening that does not provide texture, taste and life, but instead leads to failure and death. I like to think of it as that spoiled or out of date yeast I bought for my wife. Again the disciples were a little bit slow to catch on but in their defense, Jesus often spoke in metaphors and parables which I’m sure I would have struggled with. Jesus had to tell them plainly that the yeast He was referring to was the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, the corrupt Jewish teachers and temple rulers of the day. Jesus warned them to “be careful and on guard” against it and them. So what is this yeast that will spoil the bread, rather than give it life?
The most obvious answer is listening to and accepting the teaching of those who want to mislead you into thinking that Christ is not the only way to the Father. This is what the Pharisees and Sadducees were trying to sell. We live in a culture, much like the disciples then, where there were multiple religions and many gods’s to choose from. In fact, the Roman government not only tolerated but encouraged their conquered subjects to continue in their worship of many gods’, just as long as it didn’t threaten the kingdom and Roman authority. Jesus wasn’t executed because He claimed to be the Son of God, rather because He claimed to be a king, albeit a kingdom not of this world. The spoiled or dead yeast of our day is what masquerades as “religious tolerance” and the idea that it doesn’t matter what “religion” you practice as long as it encourages peace and tolerance. The argument made by the sellers of dead yeast say, “What’s the difference, all religion leads and points to the same god…so what’s the big deal?”
The problem that many believers and non-believers struggle with, and refuse to fully accept, is what Jesus said quite unabashedly and unambiguously, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well (John 14:6-7).” If you listen to those who would like to convince you otherwise and accept their teaching then you have denied Christ, and basically called Him a fraud. Jesus knew well in advance that this was the strategy of the false teachers of His day and thought it necessary to warn His followers. This warning is as important today as it was then. Peace and tolerance at all cost is not real peace or tolerance at all. Any teaching that does not point to Christ as the only way to the Father makes the teacher an enemy of God and if followed, leads to discord and failure in this life and the next.
I know that by the standards of our world, this sounds harsh but the reality is that our minds have been desensitized to the truth by Satan and the lies he spreads. I would agree that the exclusivity of Christ as Savior could be viewed as unfair, that is if God had not provided a solution to the problem of sin and discerning the truth from a lie. The problem of sin was taken care of, on our behalf, by the Son of God on the cross. The ability to know and discern the truth was also solved for us by the Father; first by giving us the Word to inform us and then by sending the Holy Spirit to convict us of it. All that is expected of us is to first believe and then step out in faith, demonstrating or confirming that which we know to be true. It sounds simple, but as all who have accepted Christ as Savior know, it is not. This is why Jesus issued the warning for us to “be careful” and be “on guard.”
So what is the yeast or leavening that Jesus wants us to add to our relationship with Him, our spouse, our family and others? What is it that we must add in order to bring flavor, texture and life into our daily routine and interactions with others? Join me as I look up the recipe.
Tool #397 Knowing that Jesus is the “way” is one thing but figuring out how to follow Him is the challenge.