“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 (NKJV)
There are few aromas I love more than the smell of fresh baked bread. When I learned to bake it as a teenager, I was certain I would never eat store-bought again. It smelled (and tasted) like a piece of heaven.
Bread is closely tied to religious expression and communion. Hot cross buns commemorate Lent and Good Friday. Greek Easter breads are set with eggs dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. Jewish families celebrate the coming of the Sabbath on Friday evening with challah. In every corner of the globe there are myriads of recipes and with them cultural traditions surrounding the preparation, baking, and eating of bread.
In the Bahamas where I am from, it wasn’t long ago that bread was baked outdoors in large community rock ovens. The women in the settlement would bond over this shared act of provision for their families. It can be a side dish, a snack, or the centerpiece of the entire meal. It is solid, warm, and comforting. It is no wonder that Jesus referred to Himself as the bread of life.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh... I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.” John 6:51, 53, 54 (NLT)
Jesus gave this lesson shortly after He performed the miracle of the loaves and fish. He fed more than five thousand persons with what started as only five loaves and two fish. The people followed Him into new territory seeking more miracles, especially the kind of miracle they could eat! But Jesus didn’t just want to satisfy their temporary physical hunger, but their deepest spiritual needs.
I have often struggled with maintaining an appetite for spiritual things- for Bible study, prayer, witnessing, and most importantly for Jesus Himself rather than just the good things He brings with Him. When I read through the gospels, it is easy to think of myself as one of the disciples, standing behind Jesus at all times in all things. But when Jesus pointed to spiritual rather than physical abundance, many of His followers turned away (John 6:66). Saddened, Jesus turned to His remaining twelve disciples asking, “Are you also going to leave?” They assured Him saying, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Essentially, they said, “Lord, for us You’re it. You are all we seek and You are more than enough.”
Did you know that in the United States, bread is the most wasted food item? Thirty-two percent of it- one in every three slices- is thrown away. I wonder how much of the spiritual feast God longs to bestow on me is sitting before me untouched and wasted while I long for superficial things. Even more heartbreaking is the image of Jesus longingly extending His hand to me in friendship while I sit with my arms open only to receive His gifts, but not Him.
Today my prayer is, “Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of your son Jesus, and the treasure house of spiritual abundance that can be mine through Him. Teach me to hunger for the right things and with the right motives. Above all, teach me to seek Jesus first. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”