Bread is one of the essential foods of most cultures around the world. It is a staple in many diets, and for centuries, it has been one of the most accessible foods for people of all wealth and social status. Bread is pretty amazing in the Bible too. It is mentioned at least 492 times in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. We still celebrate it today in both Jewish and Christian faiths.
After Jesus feeds the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, He tells them “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Jesus repeats himself in verses 48 and 51, when he reminds the people about the manna the Father gave their ancestors in the wilderness, after leaving Egypt. He states, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which translates as the House of Bread. In Hebrew alphanumerically, it also means nativity, the occasion of a person’s birth. The place of Jesus’ nativity is in the House of Bread. It is a place of life. Jesus did not come into the world mainly to give bread, but to be bread. We need bread to physically live, but God’s bread of forgiveness enables us to spiritually live. It makes the Lord’s Prayer a little clearer. When we ask God to “give us this day our daily bread,” we are asking for both His provision and that He would come and fill us up with His everlasting grace. When we go to the House of Bread to accept God’s forgiveness of our sins, we see again how God feeds our souls with something we must have to spiritually survive. His bread is the only kind that leads to eternal life.
For those of us, who are followers of Christ, there is more. We join Jesus in being bread in the lives of others. Whenever Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, he summarized from His own life that He is chosen from all eternity, blessed at his baptism in the Jordan River, broken on the cross, and given as bread to the world. When we submit to Christ’s calling on our lives, we are expressing our commitment to make our lives conform to the life of Christ. We too want to live as people chosen, blessed, and broken, and thus become food for the world.
Henri Nouwen shares the following regarding our call as Disciples of Christ:
“Like the bread taken by Jesus, we are chosen by God, selected for a unique role to play in God’s story. And as we recognize that we have been chosen, so also we recognize the chosen-ness of all people.
Like the bread blessed by Jesus, we, too, are blessed by God. We are called to claim our blessing and to bless others as we live each day.
Like the bread broken by Jesus, we also are broken in so many ways…in our bodies and in our hearts, in our homes and in our world. Jesus asks us to take up our cross, to claim our unique brokenness, and to join it with our blessing as we move into service to others who hurt.
Like the bread given by Jesus, we also are given. Each of our lives is a gift to those close to us: family, friends, those we serve, as well as to people we will never know. God has given us each one of us as a sacred gift to the world.”
Take a moment to consider how you have been taken, blessed, broken, and given in your life and ministry. When has this been most evident? How have you been changed by your work in service to others? How have you come to know Jesus through your service?
Ambassador of Care