May 4, 2010

To Live is Christ — the Bread of Life

Almost every time we pray before a meal, we offer thanks for the blessing of God’s abundant provision. I ought to do the same every time I open the refrigerator door or go into my pantry. The Lord is generous as He gives us our “daily bread.”

Actually, I bake our bread most of the time, but on occasion we buy bread at a store or bakery. The price can range from a dollar “on special” to five dollars or more a loaf. I’ve not figured the cost to make it, but even then, bread is not free.

In the Bible, bread was both an important part of Israel’s worship and a symbol. Old Testament sacrifices included bread. Ritualistic Showbread was placed weekly in the Jew’s place of worship, then removed at the end of the week and eaten by the priests. The showbread symbolized God’s presence with His people.

After the Israelites fled from their bondage in Egypt, God fed them with Manna that fell miraculously from heaven. They also remembered this Exodus annually by eating unleavened bread for seven days.

In the New Testament, Satan tempted Jesus who had been fasting. He said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:3–4).

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” which could be a request for physical food, but also spiritual nourishment. He called Himself “the true bread from heaven,” “the bread of God,” “the bread of life” and “the bread which came down from heaven.” John 6:51 says,

I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.
Symbolically, Jesus is my heavenly manna, the spiritual and supernatural nourishment given by my heavenly Father and available to all who open their hearts to Him. (See Revelation 2:17.)  Jesus used this symbol on the night before His crucifixion also as an invitation.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body’ (Matthew 26:26).
By offering His body, Jesus was not only the sacrificial Lamb slain for sin, but also the Showbread of God’s presence. He is the Bread of Life for His people. We may eat of Him and with Him, finding in Him forgiveness of sin and eternal life. In keeping with the symbolism of bread and eternal life, Isaiah 55:1-2 offers the same invitation as Jesus offered. 
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
The Bread of Life gives me life, spiritual nourishment, satisfaction, and delight. Best of all, this Bread is without price — freely available to all who come to Jesus and ask for it.

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