Updated: Jun 23, 2020
Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group though texting or even a phone call.
Deuteronomy 8:2-5 (NIV)
"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you."
John 6:51-58 (NIV)
"'I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'
Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.'”
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NIV)
"Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."
Jesus answered Satan in the wilderness with this “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 NIV) But what is this bread that Paul and John are talking about. John starts with Jesus saying, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” So what are we really talking about?
How many times have you been in a jam and cried out to Jesus to save you and He does? What do we do next? Well, if we are smart, we thank Him for saving us, but is that enough. Is that all there is? Are we destined for our lot in life to be constantly in trouble and being saved by Jesus as some sort of superhero?
This is where the bread comes in, the one loaf as Paul called it, the one body. The sustaining power of God Himself. One lives by the very word of God that comes from His mouth. Yes, God saves. Yes, He cares when we are in trouble. But He also cares when we are not, and He still saves when we are not! See God does not just want to fly in and save and then go away. It is about a relationship.
The relationship is why Jesus used bread as the symbol of His body. Is there any better smell than fresh baked bread? Maybe we have in us a core link to this simple staple that is deeper than we know. Bread, especially in Jesus’ time, was the daily sustainer of life and nutrition. It may be hard in a society of today where we go to work to earn money to be able to go to the store and select a loaf of bread that was harvested by machine and baked by machine sometime in the last week, stuffed in a plastic bag and shipped half way across the country to be on your store shelf; fresh.
Remember Ruth, she went to the fields and gleamed the stocks of grain by hand that had not been harvested; one by one she picked them. In fact, it was in those days illegal for Jewish landowners to harvest every last stock, they had to leave some for the widows and orphans to gleam. These stocks of grain were then taken home and the wheat grains gently removed. Then they would use a grinding stone to grind the few grains of wheat into flower. After a couple of days’ worth of work, you might have enough for a couple of loaves of bread. This might last you maybe a week. Bread in those days meant life itself to many.
So, what is it about the bread that Jesus is telling us? Is it just to sustain life by nutrition, or is it more? Why is the Word of God so sustaining? To answer these questions, I need to go to a song, a fairly new one from Natalie Grant called “More Than Anything”. (I will leave a link to it below.) In this song she is singing about wanting Jesus more than anything and in the chorus the words are:
“Help me want the healer more than the Healing.
Help me want the savior more than the saving.
Help me want the giver more than the giving.
Help me want you more than anything!”
Maybe it’s the Baker that Scripture is speaking about more than the bread. Maybe our natural nutrition needs are more than just the minerals, vitamins and calories that we receive from eating physical bread. Maybe our natural nutrition also comes from the relationship we have with the Baker.
Maybe it’s a relationship that we participate in when we partake of the “one loaf.” Maybe when we bring the bread near, we also bring the Baker near? Forty years is 14,600 days that God provided manna for and kept Israel safe and well under His care. So how many days of manna have you endured so the Baker could be close to you?
Natalie Grant’s "More Than Anything."
1. Do you want the healing more than the Healer?
2. Do you want the giving more than the Giver?
3. Do you want the saving more than the Savior?
4. Do you want Jesus more than anything?