Bread, bread and more bread. This month’s lectionary readings continue a five-week discourse from John 6 where we encounter Jesus feeding the multitudes.
This story from the fourth Gospel offers timeless imagery of Jesus as the Bread of Life, Bread of Heaven, True Manna from Heaven and the Living Bread. Even though the text is full of rich symbolism, we may grow weary from the repetition.
As I read each Old Testament passage, Psalm, Epistle and Gospel reading, several themes emerged that provide broader perspectives regarding this Living Bread. I will highlight two here—God’s abundance and God’s nearness.
This story from the fourth Gospel offers timeless imagery of Jesus as the Bread of Life, Bread of Heaven, True Manna from Heaven and the Living Bread.
In our reading from 1 Kings, we meet the prophet Elijah, who is literally running for his life. He has just defeated the prophets of Baal and angered Queen Jezebel and her army. Now they seek his life. Devastated and disillusioned, he cries out: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life …” (19:4).
God draws near. God sends an angel to tend to the prophet. The angel provides Elijah with a loaf of bread and jar of water. The angel cautions: “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you” (19:5).
When we experience friction, we may feel just like Elijah. We may want to give up, quit or escape. But God will provide supernatural sustenance for us, even in the wilderness. The Israelites received manna from heaven; Elijah received bread and water; the masses received loaves and fishes; and we receive the Living Bread of Life—Jesus. When we receive Jesus, we are satisfied because he is better than manna, better than Elijah’s angel food, and better than loaves and fishes. God’s grace is abundant.
The Bread of Life is in our midst. Jesus, our Savior, comes to us like manna from heaven. And we may eat of this bread until we are satisfied. Every Sunday, there is a feast prepared for you. This feast strengthens our faith, comforts our souls and equips us for the journey.
This journey isn’t for the fainthearted. Many will turn back. But not us because we know it’s in Jesus that we find eternal life. So we declare like the apostle Peter: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Oh Lord, give us this bread always.