the post about bread…
I love bread.
I miss eating good bread (thank you, gluten intolerance).
I wish I could go back to when I was a kid and bread was a staple at the dinner table – when it was considered necessary and nutritional. And I could eat it without feeling sick.
These days, bread is classified as a “carb.”
And not just any carb…the bad kind.
Bread is to be avoided.
Because we live in an anti-bread culture, it’s kind of humorous to me how important bread is in the bible.
Jesus uses the metaphor of “being bread” over and over – to demonstrate that he is necessary for eternal survival, just like bread is necessary for life. (Let’s bring back bread!)
In John 6:38, 50 Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again…anyone who eats this bread will live forever, and this bread, which I offer the world, is my flesh.”
In fact, there is an entire chapter in the book of Matthew involving bread: three stories that all work together to paint a picture of how different people respond to the bread…how they respond to Jesus.
The stories in chapter 15 illustrate the 3 responses to the bread of life:
- The religious legalist
- The humble follower
- The ignorant disciple
First, the religious legalist: the Pharisees get upset that the disciples don’t follow the ceremonial hand washing rituals before breaking bread. They value the adherence to rules more than anything else. To them, it’s not about the gift of the bread but the effort to look good before receiving it. Jesus reprimands them for thinking that cleanliness is an outward show versus a heart issue. The Pharisees demonstrate legalism at its finest.
Second, the humble follower: a Gentile woman asks Jesus to heal her tormented daughter. She is humble, reverent and persistent in her approach to him, even when the disciples reject her. When called a dog, she begs for the bread crumbs that are given to dogs. This woman clearly sees her need for Jesus’ bread of life and is desperate for it.
Finally, the ignorant disciples demonstrate three times that they don’t quite understand the bread of Jesus: they are shocked when Jesus dares oppose the Pharisees about washing before the bread, they don’t want Jesus to waste his time on the Gentile woman who begs for bread, and they are surprised when Jesus multiplies the bread and feeds the 4,000. The feeding of the 4,000 came after the feeding of the 5,000, so it shouldn’t have tripped them up…but it was in a different location and involved different people. The first time, the miracle occurs with the chosen people. The second time, as told in this chapter, the miracle is for the Gentiles. The disciples have obviously misunderstood who gets to receive the bread of life.
Of the three, only one truly understands the bread that Jesus is offering.
The other two are more worried about outward displays of religion and more caught up in judgement than they are focused on the bread.
If I’m honest, I’ve been all three of those people at one time or another.
I spent a good portion of my 20’s looking like a Christian but missing what is most important. I sang the songs, and stood up front, but my heart was not transformed. I didn’t spend any time in the Word or on my knees and as a result, I was full of pride, not Jesus. My pride blinded me from seeing my desperate need for the bread of life.
I’ve also wrestled with not understanding the boundless, limitless love of God. In my ignorance, I have judged others by their sin and questioned whether or not they were worthy to receive the gift of bread that is Jesus. I misunderstood the extravagance that is God’s grace and because of it, I’ve been on the short side of inviting others into the kingdom.
For the last 7 years, I’ve been pruned and humbled until I was desperate for the scraps of bread that fall off the table onto the floor. I’ve realized my total and utter depravity apart from the saving love of Jesus and am so thankful for his grace. I live in utter dependence on his bread.
Can you find yourself in this chapter? Which person are you?
Friends, let us pursue the bread of life with humility.
Let’s care less about our religious appearance and more about the condition of our hearts.
Let’s give the gift of grace to others like we drink hot coffee on a frigid morning…in reckless abandon.
Let’s be utterly dependent on and devoted to bread.
The bread of life.
And maybe, someday, once again dependent on the bread with carbs too.
As always, I love hearing from you. Email me or comment on the blog and I will get on my knees for you. Let’s do this faith journey together.
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