I love the smell of fresh baking bread. My wife
sometimes puts the ingredients into our bread machine last thing at night, so
that we wake up to that wonderful aroma. It certainly helps me to thank God for
‘Our Daily Bread’.
Have you noticed how often bread is mentioned in our
everyday clichés and idioms? For
example, we talk about “taking the bread out of someone’s mouth,” meaning to
deprive them of their livelihood. To break bread means to eat a meal, especially in companionable association
with others. And to “know which side one’s bread is buttered on” means to
be aware of those things
that are to your advantage.
Today, in our modern world, when we have dozens of
varieties to choose from, it’s easy to take bread for granted. But for much of
history, bread was so essential to human survival that it was known as the “staff
of life.” This is why it made such an effective analogy in the Bible.
an analogy that’s easy to miss if we don’t read the scriptures as a connected story.
When we read it piecemeal we can miss some of the long and beautiful threads
that run through the Old and New Testaments.
probably know the story of how God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness
with miraculous bread that fell from the sky each night. They called it “manna”
and it was their staple diet for the many years they wandered in the wilderness.
Then, as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, the manna ceased.
is an interesting statement in the Book of 2 Baruch, which is part of the
Apocrypha. Those are books that are not a part of inspired scripture, but Biblical
scholars consider them to be of historical interest. 2 Baruch 29:8 reads: “And it shall come to pass at that
self-same time (in the days when the Messiah comes) that the treasury of manna shall again
descend from on high, and they will eat of it in those years.”
That gives a new
level of meaning to the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000. Perhaps it was what
the crowd had in mind when they said, “Surely, this is the Prophet who is come
into the world.” (John 6:15). They thought Jesus had given them manna, like
followed Jesus, wanting more of the miracle bread, but Jesus explained that they
had missed the point. Manna was only an analogy of a much more important source
of nourishment. He told them, “…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” (John 6:32-33).
Jesus was, of
course, referring to himself. We need bread to sustain our physical existence.
But as he said, we cannot live by bread alone. Even the best bread – like the
loaves my wife makes – is just an analogy, to remind us that what we really
need is the true bread from heaven – the life that comes from our relationship
with God. That is bread that can sustain our lives forever.
I’m Joseph Tkach,
speaking of LIFE.