It’s amusing to discover what humanity holds dear when the sand shifts beneath our feet and we scramble, searching for solid ground on which to stand. Certainly the charade of ‘Charmin’ hoarders comes to mind, but have you also noticed that flour and yeast are in short supply? We turn to the basics, the things that speak comfort and security, and what could be more universally comforting than bread? Whether rye or sourdough, Nann bread or challah, flatbread or bannock, tortilla, or pretzels, hardtack, lavash, bagel, or taboon, gluten-free or traditional, we find our rhythm as we mix and stir. During this season we are folding and rolling, gathering and kneading, around and around. The yeasty aroma swirls about the kitchen and out the door, beckoning all who hunger. Bread brings us home. And when we gather to eat, we long to be filled and satisfied. Do we realize how broken we are? Do we see ourselves collapse at the table? Do we get a glimpse of how we cannot even crawl through another day without nourishment to heal and strengthen us?
I remember walking home from school and the yeasty aroma of fresh bread invited me, enticed me, up the driveway and into our home. The poorest of peasants is the richest of kings sitting at a table before a slice of my mom’s bread, slathered with butter and raspberry jam. Or thick cream, spooned from a quart sealer, dolloped on a steaming slice and topped with a spoonful of brown sugar.
It is simple fare, easy to make, with a few ingredients, and satisfies the most basic nutritional need. Every culture depends on some type of grain that at the very least keeps them alive and provides a daily rhythm of feeding their souls and finding sustenance, and at the very most is styled into an elegant glazed and breaded design fit for a queen on her wedding day.
But at its beginning, bread was never intended to be fancy, but food, just food for the famished and for the family. How like Jesus. Jesus never came to be admired, but to be broken. He is for the body and the soul. He said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty” John 6:35 NLT.
Jesus, like bread, claims to be foundational and essential for every culture and every people group. He is not fancy, but simple; not costly, but free. “You who have no money, come buy and eat! . . . Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:1 NIV. He is not gourmet but oh so satisfying.
My mom always wanted the crust of the bread. I don’t know if she was being thoughtful and allowing us to have the softer more pillowy slices, or if she really liked the crumbly crust, but Jesus is like that, as humble and unassuming when He calls Himself the Bread of Life. He could have called Himself Chicken Parmigiana or White Fish Provencal, but instead he compares himself to what would have been like the little boy’s offering of five small loaves – almost overlooked. In his listener’s minds he was a portable lunch you tossed your child as he ran out the door. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school. Fare to strengthen an army, durable for every road travelled, and tough enough to last the winter. An everyday constant taken for granted. Oh how humble is our gentle Jesus, and yet what a delight He is. We feast on His loving kindness. We survive only by His lavish grace. “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world” Psalm 31:19 NLT.
“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavishedon us” Ephesians 1:7 NIV.
Unadorned is the loaf that sits central on a table scarred by the trials and tragedies of its people. They come desperate, and the bread will see them through. There is no other way to take that which saves us from certain death; we must come starving if we want to be filled. We live and breathe by grace alone, through the gut-cleansing fibre of forgiveness, which washes from us the cancers of our soul.
This Easter I remember my Lord, broken for me. My sin crushed Him. There was no other way that I could be made whole. I stumble Home now, to that scarred table, and I take Jesus. I come desperate for forgiveness, starving for grace, and I stay for the Feast. I never want to leave, for He, the Bread, brings me back to Life.
“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me,’ ” Luke 22:19 NLT.
by Pamela Mytroen