When Jesus’ disciples asked that he teach them how they should pray, he taught them what has come to be known as the Lord’s prayer which we still use to this day. “Our Father” he began. Now, the Lord’s prayer is full of meat & potatoes with nutritious theological food, however consider that still around today along with the words of the prayer is the old favourite, bread.
Bread is ubiquitous, everywhere from your local supermarket to the 1970’s soft rock band from L.A. to metaphors we use all the time, like ‘bread-line’. Our daily bread. Bread goes with almost any meal as a side (the faithful ‘bread plate’ attests to this), and curiously you can put almost any leftovers between 2 slices and you have a sandwich. Bread has got a bad rap lately however as with anything you may have too much of, it can be bad for you. According to a recent clinical study that took place at the University of Barcelona, daily consumption of bread in reasonable amounts can improve a person’s lipid profile (cholesterol, fatty acids) and lower insulin levels, thereby lowering the chance of developing heart disease.
Apparently it’s butter that is the real villain of the piece.
After feeding the multitudes, Jesus explained that he is the bread of life (John 6:35). Thereafter the crowds were looking for a free meal; whereas he was pointing out that he gives the free gift of eternal life.
Regular bread passes through the oesophagus into the GI tract where bacteria and digestive juices (including stomach acid) break it down into nutrients that are absorbed by the blood and distributed accordingly. As amazing as this process is, it merely keeps the body going. What Jesus offered – and offers still – is life above and beyond.
Jesus gave us two sacraments as Christians: baptism and communion. Every time I partake of the bread and juice, pray an earnest prayer, repent from sin, worship in spirit and truth, study the word, I’m partaking of the bread of life in my soul. And in dark times it is what sustains me.
I remember being a full time student, untouched by life’s challenges, spending oodles of time praying, having communion by myself in enthusiasm more than theological correctness. I remember walking through a banana plantation in White River, pouring out my soul to him, and in Leytonstone having a awesome quiet time to end all quiet times after a dry season. Partaking of the bread of life. I remember singing my heart out at a Promise Keepers conference, doing business with God. Without those ‘meals’ I certainly would be far worse off.
The meal is the act of living, around which we meet with Christ. One of the most touching invitations for Christians (this was written to the church at Laodicea) is Jesus’ words to the church in Revelation 3:
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.