Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jesus and Symbolism...Bread

Bread is one of the most basic foods in the world. I may have mentioned this before, but in case I didn't let me state for the record that I love process...any process to me is amazingly interesting. Bread is a process...more so for those in Biblical times than for us. Bread didn't begin by opening a bag of flour and mixing it with water from the tap. Bread began months before by saving enough seeds to plant and with the right weather conditions harvest grain. The grain was then ground and used to make the bread...a lengthy and important process. It involved prior planning to not eat all the grain from the previous year, nurturing seedlings, dependence on God for the proper amount of rain and to limit insects and flooding, harvesting at the proper time, separating the grain from the chaff, grinding the grain and finally baking bread.

I typically relate better to God as "Father", "Creator" or "Lord" and I usually think of Jesus in terms of "Messiah", "Son of God" or "Immanuel". I tend to get those analogies because they are relevant to me. Making bread, grinding grain and to some degree even planting and harvesting isn't really in my world to the degree it was with previous generations. I have gained a great deal of appreciation and insight into the whole idea of "the Bread of Life"...check this out.

In Exodus 25 God orders his people to put "the Bread of Presence" before Him at all times. That bread is for God and therefore is holy. For some reason, bread is important to God. In Leviticus 24 God gives instructions on this bread and it is of interest that the bread is to be made of "the finest flour"...remember Jesus making "the best wine"?... and is to be "baked in twelve loaves". The number twelve will come up again, no? Leviticus 24 also outlines that only the Priests are to ever eat of this consecrated bread...that is important to because this rule is given by God and then will be broken by David, the "man after God's own heart", in I Samuel 21 and sanctioned through example and referencing by Jesus in Luke 6.

We know in the "Exodus" God fed his people with bread or manna falling from heaven. That is symbolic of the provisions for the journey and also symbolic of life. Without God's provisions in the desert, the Promised Land could have never become a reality.
Jesus said in John 6 Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
The Bread of Life gives us life. As we become in Him and like Him we experience His life and can even extend that life to others through administering His Grace, Love and Mercy to others.

Most Christians agree that we need the Bread of Life for salvation and for our sustenance in this life but is there something else? I think so. Where was Jesus born? Bethlehem. Since I don't think places, names and facts in scripture are accidental, maybe it is important to think about what "Bethlehem" means in the Hebrew language. It means, "the house of bread". Tommy Tenney in his book, God Chasers implies that the Bread of Life was born in the house of bread because the bread of God...i.e. the sustenance, provisions, etc....had long ago vanished. I would agree with that today as well. The people of God IN GENERAL and churches IN GENERAL have no bread to offer this world. We have little or no sustaining or nurturing actions or attitudes that could distinguish us from any other group with any other belief. But there is an answer...

I am positive that the more we are in the midst of "The Bread of Presence", the more that Bread influences us, sustains us and nurtures us. In our spiritual and emotional health we are then free to (and I usually hate cliches) "show other beggars where to find some bread". We don't need more programs, we don't need more doctrine and we certainly don't need larger assemblies...we just need more Bread.

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