One of our family viewing habits over lockdown has been watching the BBC series ‘Inside the Factory’. Each episode follows a particular item—it could be cornflakes, crisps, rich-tea biscuits, baked beans, waterproof coats, or tea bags—and gives you an insight into its history, ingredients and follows its production through from beginning to end.
I’m a sucker for all the machinery and processes and facts and figures. It’s the sheer scale and speed of things—the crisp factory which churns out 5 million packets every 24 hours; that it takes only 35 minutes from a potato entering the crisp factory until it is in a bag, peeled, cooked, flavoured and coming out the other end of the factory.
It’s the extra things that have to be done that you don’t think of—baked beans cooked in their cans after they are sealed in, nitrogen pumped into the crisp packets to keep them fresh…
Over lockdown my daughters had made croissants on a couple of occasions, so it was with great interest that we watched the croissant episode.
There were several things which surprised me in the production process. Croissants aren’t the historic French staple that we might have thought—the earliest recipe is only from 1906. Also rest is key—the dough just sits around for several hours doing nothing much. Layers are key too—pastry layered with butter, over and over again.
But the thing which struck me was that the yeast used in this particular factory comes from the original batch of dough which the factory’s founder made in 1936! That’s eighty-four year old yeast. It has been fed and multiplied over the years, and now it still works its impact on the dough all these years later.
Given that the factory churns out 336,000 croissants every day—that’s an awful lot of influence that yeast has had!
It struck me as a rather tangible, or even tasteable, illustration of a biblical truth. The Bible teaches that Adam and Eve as the progenitors of us all, have impacted all successive generations. Their disobedience has infected all of mankind. Like the yeast used to flavour the millions of croissants so their sin has ‘flavoured’ us all.
And like the yeast starts to grow and multiply in each croissant, so we grow and ferment that original infection, expressing it in our lives in millions of different ways.
The Bible’s authors use the illustration repeatedly—yeast as a parable of sin’s spreading influence—but it struck me with greater clarity when they said the croissant yeast was cultivated from the original batch from nearly a century ago.
Why aren’t we able to do the good we want to do? Because we are infected by this ancient yeast. We need its permeating, fermenting power removed. And the only way that can happen is through One not connected to that ancient line—One born mysteriously, connected to mankind, but not connected to its sin. We might baulk at the seeming unfairness of one person fouling it up for us, but that also means that one person, Jesus, can make it right for us.
You might think of your need of him next time you bite into a croissant.