So let’s talk bread. Jesus makes it plain that the Word of God is as important as physical nourishment. But He does not say meat or food, like He does with the woman at the well (see John 4.) He chooses bread. OK, I get that it is not arbitrary and it is actually a quote from Duet 8:3. But still, why bread?
In a read through the Gospels you can’t miss bread. It is the staple of life, and as such Jesus talks about it all the time, sometimes in the natural sense and other times as a figure for a spiritual truth.
Let’s just brush past a few of these bread ideas. (to get right to the main point skip down to where you see this. --> If you have plenty of time and want to go hard core – read on by all means.)
All 4 gospels tell the story of Jesus multiplying bread and fish (some of them tell 2 accounts of 2 different times.) Based on how you count, He multiplied 12 loves and 5 - 7 fishes and fed somewhere between 9 and 20 thousand people (just depends on how many women and children those men had along in the crowd of 5,000) and took home 19 baskets of leftovers. Among other things these accounts demonstrate that Jesus was able to take the simplest gifts from the most unexpected places (like a boy's lunch bag) and provide way more than enough for what ever the circumstance required.
Jesus talks about bread when He is explaining that the Father gives good gifts to His children just as an earthly father would not give a child a stone if he asks bread of him. This one tells me that our Father does not switch out our gifts on us. He does not hear our cries for something good, and give us something evil. [There was a branch of theology about 10 or 15 years ago that would warn you not to ask the Father for spiritual gifts for fear that the devil might slip in and give you some false gift that would lead you astray. Seems to me Jesus shuts that argument down. Ask your Father – Ask and keep on asking!]
There was the situation with the Greek woman who wanted her daughter to be set from some demonic oppression. Jesus said, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” (Mark 7:28)
This story strikes me on so many levels, but I only want to talk here about the bread. She is asking for deliverance for her daughter, and Jesus basically says, deliverance is the children’s bread, I can’t give it you a gentile dog like your daughter. [It is a ground breaking story when the woman pushes through this insult, and breaks the dispensational barrier to a period in time when God would allow gentiles full access to the benefits of salvation. You might ponder if there is anything you are writing off as being for a different dispensation (heaven perhaps) that you would like to see in your life today?! Think on that for a while.]
--> Jump to here for the short version:
The one bread story I want to think about today is where Jesus says “I am the bread of Life!” (John 6:48) His ministry is booming. They are following Him in droves. He gets 198,000 unique hits every month on His blog and has 300,000 followers and 2,000,000 FB friends.
He goes and starts talking about being the manna that God sent from heaven. Worse He comes right out and says, “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” (John 6:55-57) WOW! I want you to understand. He did not take the time to stop them from walking away. He did not explain the significance of communion, and the fact that He was talking about Matzos and grape juice.
Only the 11 got the more complete rendition where Jesus gave them physical bread and said – “This is my body broken for you.” He really was not looking for crowds, but for people who would follow Him no matter what it cost them, and no matter how crazy it seemed. He knew that those who took His name would be facing incredibly hard lives, and so he would not water it down, or make it easy.
The gospel is still like that. We should not try to talk people into the kingdom using logical arguments, because logic breaks down when persecution heats up.
I remember leading a young man to the Lord (convincing him rationally anyway.) But one day we were chatting about His Jewish mom, who he could not bring himself to tell about his decision for Christ. He never came back, as he began to consider that fact that his mom needed Jesus. That was too much for him- she was good, and did not need to change. He had been a bad boy, and so change worked in his life, but in his good mom – no way. Very sad.
[One last bit on Jesus' body, the bread of life. We have a good theological backing for the fact that we are cleansed from our sins by the blood of Jesus. So what is with the breaking of His body? I go back to Isaiah 53, where it says “by His stripes we are healed.” I truly believe that the bread we break when we take communion is a depiction of the stripes He bore for our physical healing. It helps me to meditate on that as I take the bread of communion.]
So I ask you now, Has Christ offended you? What rock of offence has He put in your way to test your faith?
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Thanks for reading (either long or short version)