The bread of life

Jesus said he was the bread of life - which seems a strange thing to say.

Bread in Jesus' time was a staple food - in just the same way that it continues to be today. Every Jewish meal included bread and the host would start the meal by thanking God for it and breaking it.

So Jesus took this really ordinary everyday activity and said to his followers - every time you eat bread, remember me. Which was the same as saying every time you eat, remember me. Every day, remember me.

But thinking of Jesus as the bread of life is more than a prompt to remember Jesus every day. It's an image that reminds us how Jesus nourishes us. How Jesus offers to live within us and to strengthen and empower us to be the people God calls us to be.

Bread is an important motif in the Bible that we come across time and time again.

When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness (after escaping slavery in Egypt), they were hungry and exhausted - so Moses prayed to God. And God sent 'bread from heaven' - manna. This manna appeared every morning at dawn and provided enough bread for everyone for one day. The Israelites were told, therefore, not to be greedy and to gather more than was enough for the day. And when some of them disobeyed this, the extra food they collected and hoarded went bad over night and they woke to find it full of maggots.

Jesus not only sees himself as the living bread of heaven - provided for us every day. He also tells us, in the Lord's prayer to pray only for our daily bread - not to be greedy. To trust that God will provide, as he always has provided.

At the moment, I'm trying to cut down on the amount of gluten I'm eating and so consume less bread than I used to. But Jesus does not want us to be literalist in understanding his teaching. Let's make sure - maybe every time that we have breakfast (whether you have toast and marmalade or whether, like me, you have porridge and goji berries) we remember Jesus. We remember his promise not only to be with us, but to be in us.

Let's allow Jesus to nourish us and let's be, in body and in spirit, the people God wants us to be.

Posted by Martine Oborne