Bread of Heaven
By Cathy Messecar
I am the bread of life.
John 6:48 the Words of Jesus
Every ten days I feed my sourdough bread starter whether it wants to eat or not. That's the beginning process for making bread at our house. Forty-eight hours later, my family has three fresh loaves of the yummy-smelling bread.
Bread, a diet staple for man, contains a mixture of grain and water. The earliest forms of bread were baked on hot stones, while Egypt gets credit for the first leavened bread and brick ovens. Yesteryear's coarse bread was nothing like today's commercially baked, enriched, sliced white bread.
In the 1900's in the United States, 95 percent of bread was baked at home. By 1950, commercial bakeries turned out 95 percent. When a child of 12 receives 75 percent of his calories from enriched bread, that amount supplies enough nutrition for sufficient growth.
However, the Bread of Life remains essential for good spiritual health. Jesus prescribed "daily requirements" when he said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
On one occasion, a crowd rushed after Jesus and caught up in the moment of chasing after him, only one in 5000 plus remembered to bring along food. As the day grew long, Jesus noticed their hunger, and a young boy donated his food to Jesus, who in turn prayed over the crusts.
In Jesus' hands, several loaves became thousands, and the usual processes of sowing seeds, sprouting, maturing, harvesting, grinding, mixing, and baking bypassed the usual months of labor leading up to sumptuous bread. After the meal, Jesus tried to leave the crowd, but many still trailed after him.
He knew their hearts. "You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill" (John 6:26). Not any different from people today, those crowds liked the quick fix for hungry bellies.
In this same setting, Jesus connected table bread and the bread of heaven to say about himself, "He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).
In elementary school, my class took a field trip to Mrs. Baird's bakery in Houston, Texas. I still remember the line of fourth graders with our noses aloft, sniffing the yeasty scented air. Enticed, we became instant Baird fans. After the tour, each student received a slice of hot, buttered bread. Melted butter on warm bread lingers in my memory and is probably the best straight-out-of-the-oven bread I've ever sampled.
As good as that slice tasted, it will never compare to the true Staff of Life, the Bread of Heaven, Jesus Christ.
Father, Jesus, often the quest to fill my stomach is stronger than my desire for you. Please reverse my appetites, for you satisfy like no morsel of food. Amen.
Excerpt from The Stained Glass Pickup: Glimpses of God's Uncommon Wisdom. Used by permission of Leafwood Publishers. www.LeafwoodPublishers.com
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Author Cathy Messecar speaks at local and national women's retreats, social clubs, and writing guilds. Her inspirational columns ran in Houston Community Newspapers (11 years, 600 columns). She wrote A Still and Quiet Soul: Embracing Contentment (2011) and other gift books www.cathymessecar.com
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