by Bob Wickizer

Going Crazy
Bob Wickizer
Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11,45; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

As many of you may know my old hobby of winemaking has taken a somewhat larger turn. This year we have about sixteen tons of grapes coming in to be converted into wine. I have some experience with yeast that at least helps me understand the woman who mixed yeast with three measures of flour. In winemaking you take about one ounce of dry yeast for every thirty gallons of crushed grapes. That ounce of yeast contains about thirty billion cells that come to life when you activate it with warm water. When fermenting the grapes into wine the yeast cells divide and double in number about every half hour. They are little chemical factories. It's the same chemistry in bread only you bake the alcohol out of the bread and you get to eat the yeast mixed in with the flour.

I wish Jesus had told the parable of the winemaker: The kingdom of heaven is like the winemaker who tossed a handful of yeast into two hundred gallons of grapes and produced the best wine ever. But alas, Jesus already turned water into wine and I have a ways to go before I can do that trick.

As funny as the parable of the winemaker may be, it completely misses the point Jesus is trying to make. We have to understand the elements of the story the way people viewed them at the time. Yeast and mustard were not viewed favorably in the hardscrabble days of first century peasants. Yeast was something in the air that would spoil your fruit, turn slightly damp flour into a mass that needed to be baked immediately and mold which was also called yeast then, would spoil your bread. Likewise mustard was considered an invasive, noxious weed that could ruin crop or pastureland. Mustard in the ancient near east was more like the mesquite plant today taking over thousands of square miles of Texas panhandle or the eastern red cedar exploding into Oklahoma and Kansas.

So now it's fair to ask why Jesus would comp ...

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