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JOHN 6:22-35|WONDER BREAD

August 6, 2018
Posted by Office Staff

WONDER BREAD

JOHN 6:22-35

AUGUST 5, 2018

 

LAST SUNDAY I ASKED YOU TO THINK OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE.

 

THIS MORNING, I WANT YOU TO THINK ABOUT THE BREADS YOU LOVE MOST.

 

NOTICE I DIDN’T ASK YOU TO SINGLE OUT YOUR FAVORITE BREAD, THAT WOULD BE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DO, GIVEN THE VARIETY OF BREADS, AND THE FACT THAT I’M ASKING US TO DO THIS INDIVIDUALLY AND CORPORATELY AS THE BODY OF CHRIST ASSEMBLED HERE THIS MORNING.

 

DO YOU HAVE SOME FAVORITES IN MIND?

 

MAYBE WHAT CAME TO MIND WAS YOUR MOTHER’S (OR YOUR OWN) HOME BAKED BREAD, WARM FROM THE OVEN, FILLING THE HOUSE WITH THAT WONDERFUL SMELL.

 

(I’M CONVINCED THIS IS WHAT SPURRED THE BREAD MACHINE FAD OF A FEW YEARS AGO – EASY TO MAKE, HOMEMADE BREAD; NO FUSS, NO MUSS.)

 

OR PERHAPS WHAT CAME TO MIND WAS A GOOD SEEDED NEW YORK RYE, PILED HIGH WITH HOT PASTRAMI AND SWISS.

 

OR WARM CUBAN BREAD, BUTTERED, WITH A CUBAN COFFEE BESIDE EARLY IN THE MORNING.

 

MAYBE WHAT YOU PICTURED WAS YOUR FAVORITE ITALIAN RESTAURANT, WITH STARCHED WHITE LINEN TABLE CLOTHS, AND THAT BREAD THEY BRING YOU ALMOST EVEN BEFORE GREETING YOU.

 

THAT BREAD, ACCOMPANIED BY A PLATE OF A REALLY GOOD OLIVE OIL, SHREDDED PARMESAN, AND FRESH CRACKED PEPPER; OR ALTERNATELY, OLIVE OIL WITH A SLUICE OF FINE BALSAMIC VINEGAR SWIRLED THROUGH.

 

PERHAPS YOUR TASTE FOR BREAD IS A BIT MORE PLEBIAN – A HEARTY BUTTERMILK BISCUIT COVERED IN THICK, RICH SAUSAGE GRAVY;

 

OR THAT CHEDDAR HERB BISCUIT THEY SERVE AT RED LOBSTER.

 

A HUNK OF CORNBREAD LAID ASIDE A BOWL OF WHITE BEANS AND HAM;

 

OR A POPPY SEED BAGEL WITH A SCHMEAR;

 

PERHAPS IT WAS A PLACE WITH YOUR FAVORITE BREADS THAT CAME TO MIND: COLE’S PEACE, OLD TOWN BAKERY, OR KENNEDY CAFE.

 

YOUR THOUGHTS OF BREAD MAY EVEN HAVE CAUSED YOUR MIND, AND TASTE BUDS, TO TAKE FLIGHT – SAN FRANCISCO SOURDOUGH; CROISSANTS FROM THAT LITTLE FRENCH MARKET IN PARIS;

 

THE BREAD AND CHEESE YOU BOUGHT FOR YOUR PICNIC/HIKE ALONG THE ALPS;

 

THAT DARK PUMPERNICKEL IN YOUR FAVORITE GERMAN RESTAURANT IN HAMBURG, OR MAYBE, IT WAS MILWAUKEE.

 

I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I VISITED SAN ANTONIO, TX – I WAS EATING BREAKFAST IN A LITTLE PLACE NEAR MY HOTEL.

 

I ORDERED A WESTERN OMELET, AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, THE MOST AUTHENTIC I’VE EVER HAD;

 

AND I WAS LOOKING AROUND THE TABLE FOR THE ACCOMPANYING BREAD, AS PROMISED, BUT COULDN’T FIND IT; UNTIL I SPOTTED THE LITTLE ROUND, COVERED DISH BESIDE MY PLATE, FULL OF FRESHLY MADE TORTILLAS.

 

OF COURSE, TORTILLAS WOULD BE THE BREAKFAST BREAD FOR A WESTERN OMELET IN SAN ANTONIO, TX!

 

THERE’S A REASON BREAD IS CALLED “THE STAFF OF LIFE.”

 

YES, BECAUSE IT’S THE SIMPLEST, MOST BASIC FOOD FOR LIFE; AND THE FACT THAT EVERY CULTURE HAS ITS OWN – SEVERAL, IN FACT.

 

BREAD IS THE “STAFF OF LIFE” BECAUSE IT IS “THE STUFF OF LIFE.”

 

AND PERHAPS, BECAUSE OF ITS WONDERFUL VARIETY, BREAD CAN CONJURE UP MEMORIES, AND EMOTIONS, AND THOUGHTS OF GOOD TIMES, AND WONDERFUL PLACES, AND GREAT MEALS, AND LOVELY PEOPLE, MORE THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE FOOD.

 

WE ARE WELL AWARE, I SUPPOSE, JUST HOW IMPORTANT BREAD IS IN THE BIBLE, AND HOW OFTEN IT’S AT THE CENTER OF LIFE; A PART OF THE STORY; ESPECIALLY WHENEVER AND WHEREVER GOD IS CONCERNED;

 

OR JESUS CHRIST IS PRESENT.

 

“I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE,” JESUS SAYS OF HIMSELF.

 

EVERYONE HAD ACCESS TO BREAD, EVEN THE POOR, THOUGH NEVER ENOUGH, AND OF POOR QUALITY, USUALLY MADE OF BARLEY OR OTHER GRAINS; ONLY THE WEALTHIER COULD AFFORD WHEAT.

 

BY USING BREAD AS A METAPHOR FOR HIMSELF, JESUS IS SIGNALING THAT HE IS AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

 

THE BREAKING OF BREAD MEANT FELLOWSHIP.  IN THE BIBLICAL CULTURE, WHEN YOU BROKE BREAD WITH SOMEONE, YOU WERE FRIENDS FOR LIFE.

 

THIS IS WHY IT WAS SO DISTURBING TO THOSE IN POWER WHEN JESUS ATE WITH SINNERS, TAX COLLECTORS, AND THOSE OF ILL-REPUTE; THEY BECAME HIS FRIENDS, AND HE – THEIRS.

 

BREAD HAS ALWAYS SYMBOLIZED GOD’S PRESENCE.  GOD WAS PRESENT IN THE MANNA FROM HEAVEN FOR THE WANDERING ISRAELITES.

 

AS THEY TRAVELED THE WILDERNESS, AND ARRIVED IN THE PROMISED LAND, AMONG THE ITEMS IN THE ARK OF THE COVENANT, ALONG WITH THE STONES CONTAINING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, AND MOSES’ STAFF, WAS SOME OF THE MANNA, PERFECTLY PRESERVED BY GOD.

 

WHEN THE TEMPLE WAS BUILT, THERE ON THE ALTAR, WAS THE SHOWBREAD (NUMBERS 4:7) – THE SHOW UP BREAD – LITERALLY, IN HEBREW, “THE FACE BREAD” – A HEAVENLY SYMBOL OF GOD, AND A REMINDER TO GOD’S PEOPLE THAT EVERY TIME THEY ATE BREAD, THEY SHOULD THINK OF GOD.

 

BETHLEHEM – THE PURPORTED CITY OF JESUS’ BIRTH – MEANS, LITERALLY, “HOUSE OF BREAD.”

 

AND IF SOMEONE CAME ACROSS A PIECE OF BREAD ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, OR ALONG A DUSTY PATH, THE COMMON CONVENTION WAS TO PLACE THAT PIECE OF BREAD ON A TREE BRANCH FOR THE BIRDS TO EAT;

 

BREAD WAS NEVER TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT, BECAUSE IT WAS BELIEVED TO CARRY WITH IT AN ELEMENT OF MYSTERY AND SACREDNESS.

 

WHICH BRINGS US TO OUR PASSAGE FOR THIS MORNING, OR REALLY, TO THE EVENTS IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING OUR PASSAGE.

 

WHAT HAPPENS THE DAY BEFORE OUR PASSAGE IS THAT JESUS, WITH THE HELP OF HIS DISCIPLES, A LITTLE BOY WITH A LUNCH OF FIVE LOAVES AND TWO FISH, GOD’S HELP, AND A SOULFUL PRAYER, IS ABLE TO FEED 5000+ PEOPLE.

 

HUNGRY PEOPLE; STARVING PEOPLE; PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN LISTENING TO HIM ALL DAY; PEOPLE WHO WANTED MORE OF HIM; BUT WHO ALSO NEEDED FOOD.

 

AND WHEN HE PROVIDED IT FOR THEM – THEY IMMEDIATELY SAW HIM AS A PROPHET AND MIRACLE WORKER, AND WOULD HAVE CROWNED HIM THEIR NEW KING ON THE SPOT;

 

THIS ONE WHO COULD FILL THEIR BELLIES WITH BREAD.

 

(BY THE WAY, ONE OF THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE LONG-AWAITED MESSIAH.)

 

BUT JESUS DISAPPEARS; HE ESCAPES; HE CATCHES THE FIRST BOAT OUT OF TOWN, CROSSES THE SEA OF GALILEE, AND TRIES TO HIDE OUT IN CAPERNAUM;

 

AND ALL BECAUSE HE DIDN’T WANT TO BE WORSHIPPED FOR BEING A “DIVINE BAKER” OF SORTS.

 

ACCORDING TO OUR PASSAGE, THE PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN FED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LAKE WENT LOOKING FOR JESUS, AND FINDING HIM, DESIRE FROM HIM MORE BREAD.

 

JESUS KNEW THAT’S WHAT THEY WANTED.

 

“YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ME, NOT BECAUSE YOU SAW SIGNS, BUT BECAUSE YOU ATE YOUR FILL OF THE LOAVES.”

 

AND WHO COULD BLAME THEM – THEY WERE HUNGRY; SOME WERE STARVING; MOST HAD NEVER HAD THEIR FILL OF BREAD IN THEIR LIVES.

 

HUNGER IS A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR.

 

BUT JESUS KNEW WHAT THEY NEEDED, AS MUCH AS HE KNEW WHAT THEY WANTED.

 

“DO NOT WORK FOR THE FOOD THAT PERISHES, BUT FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES FOR ETERNAL LIFE, WHICH THE SON OF MAN (aka – ME) WILL GIVE YOU.”

 

“WHAT MUST WE DO TO PERFORM THE WORKS OF GOD?” – THAT IS, WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO TO EARN THIS SORT OF BREAD?” THEY ASK JESUS.

 

JESUS ANSWERS: “THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD, THAT YOU BELIEVE IN HIM WHOM HE HAS SENT.”

 

ALL THEY NEEDED TO DO WAS TO BELIEVE.  ALL WE NEED DO IS BELIEVE.

 

BUT THEY WERE NOT SATISFIED WITH THAT ANSWER, AND NEITHER ARE WE, MOST OF THE TIME.

 

THEY WANTED PROOF.  THEY WANTED SIGNS.  DO SOMETHING SPECIAL, THAT WE MIGHT BELIEVE IN YOU.

 

“NOW WHAT COULD YOU DO THAT WOULD BE SPECIAL,” THEY MUSED ALOUD…

 

“OH, YES, OUR ANCESTORS ATE THE MANNA IN THE WILDERNESS; AS IT IS WRITTEN, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO EAT.’”

 

(THERE IT IS!) GIVE US BREAD…!

 

JESUS THEN REMINDS THEM THAT IT WAS NOT MOSES WHO GAVE THE PEOPLE BREAD, BUT HIS FATHER, JESUS’ FATHER, GOD THE FATHER, WHO GIVES YOU THE TRUE BREAD OF HEAVEN.

 

“SIR GIVE US THIS BREAD ALWAYS;” THEY PLEAD.

 

“I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.  WHOEVER COMES TO ME WILL NEVER BE HUNGRY, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER BE THIRSTY.”

 

THE MIRACLE OF FEEDING THE 5000, AND THE ACCOMPANYING PASSAGE IN WHICH JESUS CALLS HIMSELF THE BREAD OF LIFE ARE NO ACCIDENT; NO COINCIDENCE; NO FLUKE;

 

THEY ARE THERE FOR A REASON, AS ARE MOST THINGS IN SCRIPTURE; ESPECIALLY IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.

 

JOHN’S IS A PURPOSEFUL GOSPEL.  JOHN IS NOT SIMPLY CONTENT TO TELL OF THE EVENTS OF JESUS’ LIFE, MIRACULOUS AS THEY MAY BE.

 

JOHN WRITES FOR A REASON, AND THAT REASON, THAT ONE OVER-ARCHING PURPOSE, IS TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD; THE SAVIOR.

 

EVERYTHING HE WRITES POINTS TO IT, INCLUDING, AND MOST ESPECIALLY, JESUS’ “I AM” STATEMENTS.

 

“I AM… THE BREAD OF LIFE; …THE GOOD SHEPHERD; …THE TRUE VINE; …THE SHEEP GATE; …THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE; …THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.”

 

“I AM,” JESUS SAYS; AND HE UNDERSTANDS WE ARE TOO.

 

HE UNDERSTANDS OUR WANTS, AND OUR NEEDS; AND HE KNOWS THAT WHAT WE NEED MOST, IS HIM.

 

IS GOD.  LIFE IN GOD.  LIFE WITH GOD, NOW AND FOREVER.

 

JESUS CARES ABOUT OUR “FELT NEEDS” – THAT WE GET HUNGRY, AND THIRSTY, AND SICK, AND IN NEED OF MANY THINGS, AND JESUS MEETS THOSE NEEDS.

 

BUT JESUS ALSO UNDERSTANDS OUR SPIRITUAL NEEDS, THOSE THINGS THAT GO BEYOND BELLY AND BODY; THAT ARE IN THE DEPTHS OF OUR SOULS; OUR VERY BEING.

 

NEEDS SO DEEP, THAT NOTHING OTHER THAN THE DIVINE CAN FULFILL.

 

WHEN I WAS A CHILD GROWING UP IN WINTER PARK, FL, EVERY SO OFTEN, AND FOR SOME REASON, USUALLY WHEN MY FAMILY WOULD BE DRIVING SOMEWHERE ON VACATION, VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING, BEFORE SUNRISE;

 

MY FATHER INSISTED THAT WE ALWAYS GET AN EARLY START;

 

WE’D DRIVE THOUGH DOWNTOWN ORLANDO, WHICH IS VERY DIFFERENT NOW THAN IT WAS THEN.

 

ANYWAY, RIGHT SMACK DOWNTOWN IN ORLANDO THERE WAS A MERITA BREAD FACTORY;

 

AND AT THAT EARLY HOUR, THEY WERE BAKING BREAD; AND THE SMELL OF IT FILLED THE ENTIRE DOWNTOWN AREA – EVEN SEEPING THROUGH THE VENTS OF OUR CAR;

 

AND POWERFUL ENOUGH TO COMPETE WITH MY FATHER’S UBIQUITOUS CIGARETTE SMOKING (THIS WAS BEFORE THE DANGERS OF SECONDHAND SMOKE WERE EVER MENTIONED).

 

THAT POWERFUL SMELL OF BAKING BREAD.  AND THERE ON THEIR CORPORATE SIGN, AMONG THE BREADS THEY BAKED: WONDER BREAD;

 

IN ITS BRIGHT BLUE AND WHITE WRAPPER, COMPLETE WITH POLKA-DOTS OF BLUE, RED, AND YELLOW.  IT WAS THE HAPPIEST OF BREADS.

 

FORTIFIED, I SUPPOSE, WITH ALL SORTS OF EXTRA VITAMINS AND MINERALS.

 

ALL I KNEW, WAS THAT MY MOTHER SAID IT WAS TOO EXPENSIVE FOR US TO BUY; PROBABLY NO MORE THAN A FEW CENTS MORE THAN THE STORE BRANDS WE BOUGHT;

 

BUT MY MOTHER WAS AS FRUGAL AS THEY COME, AND SHE STRETCHED OUR FAMILY’S FOOD BUDGET AS FAR AS SHE POSSIBLY COULD.

 

WONDER BREAD WAS NOT ONLY THE HAPPIEST OF BREADS, IT WAS JUST BEYOND OUR REACH AS A FAMILY; AND, IT WAS THE BREAD I WANTED MOST.

 

I WONDER… IS NOT THIS THE DEFINITION OF JESUS HIMSELF?

 

WONDER BREAD?  THE HAPPIEST OF ALL BREADS.  THE ONE WE WANT MOST.

 

THIS ONE WHO CALLED HIMSELF: THE BREAD OF LIFE.

 

SOMEONE HAS SAID: “THE GOOD NEWS IS ONE BEGGAR TELLING ANOTHER BEGGAR WHERE TO FIND BREAD.”

 

THAT GOES FOR THE GOOD NEWS THAT IS JESUS CHRIST, AS WELL.

 

AND THE REALLY GOOD NEWS IS, THAT HE IS AVAILABLE TO ALL!

 

 

 

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