Thursday, October 18, 2012

Contemplating . . . Bread

Today a comic-strip cartoon got me thinking about a kind of crumby topic: Bread. In the cartoon, “Frank & Ernest,” one of the characters, looking at a tray of gingerbread men, declares, “I see bread people!” – a wry reference to the famous line, “I see dead people,” from the suspense thriller, “The Sixth Sense.”

I don’t see bread people – or dead people, for that matter. But it occurred to me that of all the foods we eat on a regular basis, bread is probably one of the most underappreciated. We take it for granted. It’s there with almost every meal, in one form or another, but when someone asks, “What’s for dinner?” we never hear anyone saying, “Bread.” It’s not the main attraction for any meal, but we expect bread to be there, whether we’re eating at home or in a restaurant. It’s a staple for dining.

It's so important that when I was a kid, we had a bread truck come into our neighborhood every week, delivering bread door to door.

Think about it: Without bread, the lunchmeat on our sandwich would make for very greasy fingers. Can you imagine how messy a meatball sub would be without the bread? And what would a typical American breakfast be without toast? When you need a quick snack, you could do far worse than a peanut butter sandwich (with or without jelly).

In my view, bread should definitely be ranked in the upper crust of food groups. In terms of nutritional value, it’s definitely a cut above many of the things we like to eat. Even when we want to loaf around, bread is always there for us. If I wanted to start a bakery, I think a cool name would be Dough, Ray & Me. No matter how you slice it, bread has real pun-tential, don’t you think? It definitely appeals to my rye sense of humor.

But joking aside, I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus Christ used bread as a metaphor for describing Himself. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever,” He declared in John 6:51.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose this comparison? Why didn’t He opt for steak, potatoes, or even cake? My own experience has shown that He does in my life spiritually what bread does for me physically – satisfies my hunger, sustains me during times of need, and strengthens me for the day’s challenges.

At the same time, the Bible takes a different slant on the analogy when it states, “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3), a statement Jesus affirmed in Luke 4:4.

Just as bread nourishes us, but usually serves to complement a more varied meal, we can’t look to physical resources alone for a fulfilling and contented life. The Lord offers Himself to meet our deepest spiritual needs as nothing else can.

Jesus utilized the bread metaphor one other way just days before His crucifixion. In Mark 14:22 it says He “took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’” The disciples didn’t understand it at the time, but Jesus was demonstrating His own body would have to be broken so their sinful lives could be made whole.

So the next time you sit down to eat and reach for the bread, remember the importance of also reaching for the Bread of Life.

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