Humankind’s greatest friend is …?
The latest edition of the Smithsonian Institute Magazine had this opening statement:
“Though dogs are usually considered humankind’s best friend, if you really think about it, the animal that gives many people the most joy is yeast. … used for making wine, raising bread and fermenting beer. Now, new research indicates that various strains of the wonder yeast may also give different regional coffees and chocolates their distinct flavours.”
The slant of the Bible’s main opening statement about yeast couldn’t be more different. The context being the Feast of Passover, which is that great festival showing us in symbols how humankind can find release and rescue from the destructiveness of sin. The people of God are told, to take lambs and paint their blood on the doorposts of their houses and then God will see the blood and “passover” them. It is one massive signpost, ahead of time, pointing to the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus and his shed blood for all that will lay hold of it by faith.
Along with the lamb they must eat bread made without any yeast. Here yeast is seen as a symbol for sin and Jesus, just like the spotless lamb, is One from whom sin is totally absent. Just as yeast is hidden in the dough, so sin is something deeply internal, to do with our heart motives, with inner thoughts and intentions. Just as yeast spreads throughout the dough, sin doesn’t stay put in a corner of our lives, it always grows out of control and becomes like a cancer. Just as yeast works by eating up sugar and making alcohol and carbon dioxide, so sin will, by degrees, suck all the sweetness out of our lives. Yeast mankind’s best friend? Maybe, but sin, like yeast, is nothing short of a monster canine.