Feasting On the Bread of Life
Food is a big part of Christmas celebrations with different cultures and families having their own traditions centered around the holiday meals and gatherings. I grew up in The Netherlands, where my Dad owned a bakery. I remember Christmas day brunches featuring delicious pastries such as stollen, kerstol (similar to fruit cake) and other fancy breads.
Later Christmas day, we gathered for a wonderful type of communal meal called gourmetten. It was a rich family time with everyone sitting around the table laughing and talking while each person cooked bite-size pieces of meats and vegetables. And of course, there was always fresh bread from my dad’s bakery on the table. I remember that bread as being so tasty, but I have since come to know and appreciate the greatest bread in the world: The Bread of Life, Jesus. Have you ever wondered why Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life?
What Is The Bread?
In John, Chapter 6, Jesus refers to Himself three times as bread (verses 35, 48, and 51). Early in the chapter, He had turned five loaves into enough bread to feed more than 5,000 people – with leftovers! So as word spread about the miracle of the feeding of the multitude, it’s almost comical how the people chased Jesus from place to place in order to get free food.
It’s evident that those chasing after Jesus did not perceive Him with spiritual eyes, because they addressed him as Rabbi, meaning Teacher, instead of Lord. His pursuers wanted to know what miraculous signs this Rabbi could give them. They knew about the miracle of manna that was daily provided to the children of Israel in the desert (v. 31) and were ready for some miracle bread. And it was miracle bread he provided, just not the type they were chasing after. Jesus said “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51c).
They were in the presence of Jesus, giver of life, but because they could not spiritually perceive and believe who Jesus was, they pestered the Bread (Jesus) for merely flour and water baked into a loaf. Jesus description of Himself as Bread speaks of His origin, His purpose and His sufficiency. First let’s explore Jesus’ origin.
The Origin of Jesus
In John, chapter 6, the Jews grumbled that the Jesus, whom they knew to be from Nazareth, claimed to be from heaven; “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51a). John 1:14 refers to Jesus as “the One and Only, who came from the Father.” By saying that He was from heaven, he was both asserting that He had come from God and was also building on the miracle of the manna. The book of John opens with the statement: In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God, and the Word (Jesus) was God. He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. The significance of Jesus being in heaven with God is summarized in Colossians 2:9: “For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ” (HCSB).
By saying he was the Bread of Heaven, Jesus was also building on the knowledge of the original bread of heaven, manna. Jesus is our practical, yet miraculous sustenance, daily present to meet our needs. In Matthew 6:11, Jesus taught his disciples to daily request and rely on God’s provision: “Give us this day our daily” bread (Matthew 6:11).
In Jesus, the Bread of Heaven, we have provision for our spiritual and physical needs. But Jesus’ purpose was more fundamental than meeting needs. His purpose was to do the will of the Father.
The Purpose of Jesus
And the Father’s will was incomprehensible from a human standpoint. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Jesus speaks throughout the gospels of the purpose of his coming to earth. It’s a study in itself, including saving, serving, testifying, destroying the devil’s works, fulfilling the law, giving life, proclaiming favor, and bringing judgment.
And how did Jesus doing the Father’s will play out in His day-to-day life? “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). And from Acts, ” How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38). The will of the Father set Jesus apart as sufficient for every need.
The Sufficiency of Jesus
Bread was the primary source of nourishment in Jesus’ time, but Jesus is the complete and all-sufficient source for all of our needs, both spiritual and physical. First and foremost, the breaking of the bread of Jesus’ body provided forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with the Father. His willing act of sacrifice and obedience fulfilled God’s law and provided us with the supernatural empowerment to do the will of the Father.
But the breaking of the bread of Jesus’ body also provided for our physical well-being: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). And “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed “(Isaiah 53:5).
Whatever your need, Jesus is sufficient! If you haven’t done so, begin by accepting the Bread of Life as your Lord and Savior. To receive Jesus’ free gift of salvation, pray this simple prayer with all your heart: “Dear God – I know Jesus is Your Son and that He died for me and rose from the dead. Forgive me for all my sins. I receive Jesus into my life right now. Help me to follow You always. Amen.” If you prayed this prayer, please let me know, so I can direct you to more resources.
To Sum It Up
In the coming days, as you sit down to enjoy your Christmas meal, pay attention to the bread. Let it remind you of the bread of Jesus’ broken body. But don’t stop there. It is truly something to celebrate that Jesus, left heaven and its perfection, to carry out a purpose that only He could. And that He also finished what He set out to do, among other things, bringing us salvation, empowering us to live for Him, and healing our bodies. Hallelujah, what a Savior!