The Bread of Life
John 6: 33, 48-51. “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. (48) I am that bread of Life. (49) Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. (50) This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. (51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
When I was growing up, my mom worked at the Woolworth’s store downtown. Tuesday was her day off. On that day Mom would bake all day. Bread, cinnamon rolls, sometimes even cakes or pies. But always bread. We had homemade bread so much that we thought that doughy nasty store-bought stuff was a treat. What I wouldn’t give to have all that homemade goodness today.
I remember well the delicious odors of bread in the oven, being brought out when the crust is that perfect golden brown. Often we would grab a slice while it was still hot, smear it with butter, and ohhhh!
Occasionally, Mom would have some dough left over after she filled all her bread pans, and she would shape that dough like a doughnut and fry it up in a skillet. We would butter it up, sprinkle a little sugar on it; now that was a real treat.
Bread is one of the essentials of life. Through out all of time people have worked, sweat, fought, stole, or even killed to have enough bread to feed themselves and their families.
Bread contains the nutrients necessary to sustain life. One cannot be completely healthy eating just bread, but many have survived for years and years in dungeons and jails with a diet of just bread and water.
Atkins dieters notwithstanding, bread is much more necessary than meat. It contains the carbohydrates needed to participate in prolonged physical activity. Marathon runners will diet and train for months before the race they are to run in, but on the day before the big event they will load up on carbohydrates; i.e. bread. That is how they are able to sustain running for the twenty-six miles that a marathon consists of.
The gift of bread is a sign of peacemaking. When leaders of nations give bread to leaders of other nations, it is a way of saying “We want to have peace with you. We are brothers.” When bread is given as a gift to a family moving to a new home, it is a gesture of goodwill, wishing prosperity on the new neighbors.
It is no surprise then that Jesus would use bread as a way to illustrate hisgoodness, his sustenance, his revelation, and most important, his salvation.
David wrote in the Psalms; it’s our motto in our website and on our business cards: Psalm 34:8 “O taste and see that the Lord is good…” and also Psalm 23: 5a, 6a: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”
God displayed His sustaining power to Israel in the wilderness. Jesus referred to that in our text. Manna came from heaven. Jesus showed that very same attribute in the New Testament. It was the same power, the same God, that fed 5000 plus:
Matt 14: 14-21 “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. (15) And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, ‘This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy victuals.’ (16) But Jesus said unto them, ‘They need not depart; give ye them to eat.’ (17) And they say unto him, ‘We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.’ (18) He (Jesus) said, ‘Bring them hither to me.’ (19) And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. (20) And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. (21) And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.”
He showed by feeding over 5000 people with just five loaves of barley bread that his power to sustain is not predicated on the limitations we see in what we are able to give. If we give ourselves unreservedly to God, it does not matter how inadequate or insignificant we are in our own eyes, God can take whatever we are, despite the mess we have made of our lives, and feed a multitude.
We cannot rely on our own wisdom or ability to fulfill the will of God in our lives. What is done out of our own ingenuity cannot bring glory to God. But when great things are done through our inadequacies and weaknesses, then God is glorified.
God used bread as a means of revelation:
Luke 24: 14-16 “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. (15) And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. (16) But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”
The next few verses record the conversation between Jesus and these two men, concerning Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and burial; and now it seems that his body is missing from the grave!
Jesus then used the Old Testament scripture to explain that all these things were prophesied about. They listened but still did not fully understand:
Vs. 28-32 “And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. (29) But they constrained him, saying, ‘Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And he went in to tarry with them. (30) And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. (31) And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (32) And they said to one another, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”
The understanding of the Mighty God in Christ, the fact that Jesus Christ fulfilled all the Old Testament prophesies of the messiah, all the prophesies of Isaiah that declared the son to be the “…everlasting Father, the mighty God, the Prince of Peace “(Isaiah9:6), the singularness (to coin a word) of Deity: “I, even I am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:11), the revelation of who God is, is often achieved through one-on-one Bible studies taking place at a restaurant, or at somebody’s dinner table.
But the thing most beautiful is how God uses bread to reveal his salvation plan: Notice, if you will, whether God uses bread to bless (goodness), sustain, reveal, or save, one thing is constant: the bread is broken. His goodness comes with breaking of bread. The five thousand were fed when Jesus broke the bread. The Emmaus disciples knew him when he broke the bread. And salvation?
Matt 26: 26-28 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ (27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink ye all of it; (28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Jesus said “I am that bread…”. It was through the breaking of his body at Calvary that brings us salvation. Without the shedding of his sinless blood, redemption could not be made for our sins. Without his stripes there is no healing for the body. And without his death, there can be no resurrection, no hope for eternal life.
The bread that came from above, namely Jesus himself, was broken for our salvation.
We have come to Sault Ste. Marie to share this bread with you. If you have not fed at this table, it’s time to eat. This is the only way to satisfy that hunger in your life that has taken you through the drugs the alcohol, the addictions, the broken marriages, whatever your battles may have been. You can have eternal life simply by doing as Jesus said: ‘Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you.”
You can partake in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and be born a second time. We were all guilty of his blood. But Peter told the people at Jerusalem, when the realized their guilt and asked what to do, to “…repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)
The altar is open.
Note from the Pastor: If you are reading this message on-line, and it has ministered to you, or if it has raised questions you need answered, you can contact us for prayer, discussion, or whatever we can do by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will reply as soon as I am able to. May God richly bless you.
Pastor James Colegrove sr.