The Yeast that Makes Our Faith Rise

Of all the holidays I spent as a child, my favorite has to be Easter. At Easter, Mom and Grandma pulled out all the stops to prepare a seven-course feast. The first course was a homemade meatball soup, followed by generous helpings of either homemade manicotti or ravioli, Italian sausage, meatballs and rolled beef. The highlight of our Easter feast was dessert. However, instead of pie, cake, or Italian pastries, dessert meant consuming numerous loaves of Easter bread.

The production of this bread remains the most memorable of our family traditions. After making the dough, my mother would set it out on the dining room table and cover it with thick wool blankets to rise overnight. In the morning my dad, my brother and me would knead the dough. When we were finished mom would lay it out on the table, cover it and let it rise. This process was repeated until the dough had risen at least three times. After the third rise, Mom would separate the dough into loaves and bake them.

Now looking back, I realize that as a little boy I never made that connection between the rising of the Easter bread and the resurrection of Jesus. As the bread rose, so Christ arose. It was not until after I became a follower of Jesus that I realized that the resurrection is to our faith what yeast is to bread dough. The resurrection is the yeast that makes our faith rise.

God’s plan of salvation included several ingredients—the Virgin birth of Jesus, His sinless life and sacrificial death on the cross. However, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, all these ingredients would have been meaningless. The resurrection is to our faith what yeast is to bread dough. It is the ingredient that makes our faith come alive.

This message lies at the heart of what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.1-4:

 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, . . .

Sometimes life becomes so painful it can siphon away every remembrance of the fact of the resurrection. Whether its chronic or terminal illness, the loss of a job or the loss of a loved one, whether it’s the end of a relationship or the end one’s income, life will work to make us forget the grace of Jesus and the power of His resurrection.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the cares and sheer frenetics of this life can eclipse the truth we believe. We forget. When that happens friends are apt to give us long dissertations on the necessity of trusting Jesus. While what they say may be true, our heart, mind and soul crave bite-sized, chewable and easily digestible truth. Our attention span is too short to endure long-winded even impassioned exhortations to press on. As helpful these inspirational “pats on the back” may be, what we truly need is a short, pithy reminder of the facts of our faith.

We need our hope distilled into easily remembered bits – a sort of binary code for the soul. (Just give me the ones and zeroes for now, I’ll get around to the fuller stuff later on when my mind can handle more complex thought.) As if sensing both the likelihood of this spiritual attention-deficit disorder/amnesia, Paul gives the Corinthians a simple pneumonic designed to help them hold on to Jesus. And he does this by summarizing the Gospel in three short, pithy statements.:

  •  Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
  • Christ was buried, again, according to the Scriptures.
  • Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

As I write this, my family and I are in the midst of turbulent waters. Our trust in Christ is being tested. Life is doing its worst in an attempt to erase from our memory every remembrance of His grace, goodness, power and mercy. Prayers have gone unanswered. It is a season where the sky has turned to brass and the pleasant rains have stopped. The drought is upon us and we long for the Lord to make us lie down in green pastures beside the still waters.

We feel so very much like Peter, who when he noticed the wind and the waves after having stepped out of the boat, began to sink. Perhaps the same is true for you. My family and I stepped out of the boat long ago without regret. But now the wind is up and the waves are high. Even so Jesus stands above them both as the Risen Lord of all creation. He is as He always is, the risen Savior beckoning us to keep on walking toward Him despite the wind and through the waves.

We are being kneaded like bread dough. Perhaps life is kneading you as well. Kneading is a violent process. It hurts. Yet in the end, dough must be kneaded or it will not rise. Faith must be tested, at times violently, or it will not mature. Jesus was kneaded by the torment of His accusers and ultimately by the violence of the cross. And yet for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross scorning its shame. So then, it is my hope that with God’s help my family and I will one day lay down in green pastures beside still waters.

Until then, we will stand firm and hold fast to the promise, the hope, the assurance and the glorious majesty of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ which is at the heart of the Gospel:

  •  Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
  • Christ was buried, again, according to the Scriptures.
  • Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

You think about that. And remember: He is risen!

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One thought on “The Yeast that Makes Our Faith Rise

  1. Not sure how I got to your blog site but am glad I did. It felt like I was back in church listening to you speak. 🙂 Your topic (trials, suffering, and the silence of God) rang a bell w/me. One of the things that I cherish about the trials I’ve been in (and am still in), is the nearness of God’s Spirit. Although situations may not miraculously change, His comfort is evident in my soul and spirit. David says in Psalm 51, “Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.” He knew the value and necessity of this Presence.This is right after he writes, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” This is the second thing I sense in the trials, a cleansing and restructuring of my life, my thoughts, my heart, my will. And in turn this gives me hope. The honor of sharing in Christ’s suffering (I haven’t had a drop in the bucket compared to Him) in order to be conformed to the image of our precious Savior is quite a prize! The loss of self for the treasure of being one w/the Father, Son and Spirit. I do not seek for trials; they seem to find their way to me easily enough. However, it is apparent, I need them and God seems more real to me in them than in the unruffled, everything-is going-my-way times. (No offense to Curly! I really like “Oklahoma!”.) I miss you and Jill and your family and will continue to pray that you all will sense the presence of the Holy Spirit more at this time and that your lives will continue to reflect the beauty of faith in the crucible. God bless you, Michael!

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