He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33 (ESV)

Jesus follows the parable of the mustard seed with a parable that has a similar meaning; the parable of the leaven. As with the parable of the mustard seed, many interpret the parable of the leaven as referring to an evil influence which invades the kingdom of God until it totally corrupts the kingdom.

Their basis for such an interpretation is that leaven is often used in scripture to describe something evil. For instance; Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6-12). He was warning them of the doctrine or teaching of the Pharisees. Paul warns the Corinthians that the sin that is among them affects the whole body just like leaven affects the whole lump (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). In the same manner he also warns the Galatians of those who would put them under the law (Galatians 5:9).

Since the kingdom of God is never corrupted with evil (Galatians 5:21; Romans 14:17) it is difficult to understand how this interpretation of the parable can be valid. It seems a simple and more suitable interpretation would be; like leaven changes the ingredients in which it comes in contact, so the kingdom of heaven changes that with which it comes in contact. So, as the church (possibly represented by the woman) spreads the gospel of the kingdom it will continue to grow until it affects every part of the world.

Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to every nation. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV) On other occasions Jesus said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47 ESV) And “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15 ESV)

Jesus also made statements which lead us to believe that the church today has a role to play in the spreading of the gospel of the kingdom. He said that before the end of the age the gospel would be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10). Again he said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14 ESV)

Just like yeast changes the ingredients from the inside out, so does the kingdom of heaven (Luke 17:21). It works almost invisibly. Yet, as the inside of either the heart or the culture of a society changes, the kingdom is manifested outwardly (Ephesians 3:7-13).

Though lawlessness will increase, the love of many crow cold and tribulation reach its apex (Matthew 24:12, 21), the kingdom of God will continue to grow (Matthew 16:18) until the return of Christ at which time it will be fully manifested and consume the kingdom of this world (Revelation 11:15; Daniel 7:13-14). Then it will be fulfilled what the prophet Habakkuk wrote, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14 ESV)

That’s why we praise him!