Bread

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
John 6:14-15

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:26-27

If Christ came to earth to be the Messiah and King, why did he withdraw when they wanted to make Him king? Simple: they wanted food that spoils. They sought a king that could meet their here and now needs. They were looking for a king with a kingdom that wasn’t eternal. They had their eyes of the fading and temporary.

 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spiritand life.
John 6:61

If this life (and all its health, wealth and earthly happiness) were of such importance, why then does Jesus discount the flesh entirely? He examplified this by discounting His own flesh on the cross and urging all of us to do the same (Matthew 16:24-26). That is simply the nature of this life – spoiling and counting for nothing.

This is not to say that we don’t need life or anything of this life. Christ promises that He cares for our needs and will provide for us (Matthew 6:25-34). This life is important, but only for one goal – glorifying Christ. If we glorify anything other than what is eternal, we seek for the bread that spoils.

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:32-33

Daily bread

A daily devotion from 5 years ago that particularly stood out to me.

Good in others

I will acknowledge that to be easily hurt, offended, intimidated, alarmed, or upset is really a manifestation of the self-life; it is because I am not getting my own way, or I am not accorded the place I think I deserve, or I am not given the share I think I am entitled to. To feel forever cheated, deprived, alienated, or isolated is to taste what the unregenerate man will taste forever-hell.

Christ died not only to forgive my sins but to break sin’s hold on me. Why should He bind the strong man only to release him to renew his attacks on me? To indulge sin is to forfeit one of God’s richest privileges, the personal power of the cross in my life. The power of the cross and the power of sin are mutually exclusive; one or the other dominates me.

I will look for good in others, but I will not be surprised if I find evil. If I find evil, I will not feel personally rebuffed, as in the case of a friend who has failed me, or someone who has not lived up to my expectations. To feel rebuffed or hurt in such cases is an expression of the self-life. I will accept human beings as I find them-persons capable of redemption but just as capable of evil-and I will accord them the same treatment as Christ did. He did not rely on them, but neither did He exclude them. He was not personally hurt by rejection, only sorry for the rejecter. He was not vengeful or vindicative toward those who hurt Him. He gladly forgave and kept offering forgiveness. When He saw a glimmer of faith and love, He rejoiced.

The glor of Christian discipleship is to see the miracle of the emerging person, “the new man in Christ,” and to realize I have had a part of his newness under the hand of God. Then I am able to say with Christ, “I and the children God has given me” (Hebrews 2:13 Berkeley)

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25)

Appetite

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Matthew 4:4 (NET)

So he humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the Lord’s mouth.
Deuteronomy 8:4 (NET)

So this is the relationship between our natural hunger and spiritual hunger. Hunger is God’s object lesson to the Israelites to help them experience and understand spiritual hunger. When the Israelites found themselves hungry, God provided them with manna to fill their lack. Yet, the hunger itself was from God. It was to create a need within the Israelites so that He could be glorified by meeting that need. But more than it, it was to demonstrate that our physical hunger is superceeded by our spiritual hunger. If God fed their physical hunger, He too will provide for their spiritual hunger. He was building their appetite.

What lack do we have in our lives? May I so boldly say that the lack we have shows the need for “everything that comes from the Lord’s mouth”. It might be peace, healing, wholeness or restoration. Whatever the need, it is fully met in what comes out from God’s mouth – the Logos Word, Jesus.

Breaking of Bread

Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:19-20

We have communion on most Sundays and every Easter, we partake of the communion. It becomes such a habit that it is taken without consideration of what it actually means for us. Although I don’t entirely agree with the Catholic’s view of the Eucharist, there is so much more to communion that Protestants make it to be. There is something spiritually significant about the bread and the cup that symbolises Jesus’ body.

Communion means “sharing in common”, from the Greek word κοινωνία (koinōnía) in 1 Corinthians 10:16. The participation in communion is a gathering of believers sharing a common meal and fellowshipping together as a reminder of Jesus, who lived and died a perfect and sinless life of love towards mankind and obedience towards the Father. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; See also Isaiah 61:1-2). We are reminded not just of all the benefits we have in the cross because of His work, but also of the solemn truth that Christ, the one and only Son of God was hung on the cross for us. Every time we partake of communion, we look upon the cross again.

When he had taken his place at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Didnt our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:30-32

The Road to Emmaus is an amazing story of what the breaking of bread does to unbelief. The disciples explanation of who Jesus is and what His work meant showed their unbelief. They saw a dead prophet who was once great, who they thought would be the Messiah (Luke 24:19-24). Their minds were foolish to understand and their hearts were slow to believe (Luke 24:25).

The Road to Emmaus was a first in many ways. It is the only recorded time that Jesus broke bread with His disciples after the resurrection. He had done so the night of His arrest (Luke 22:19-20) and had given them the reason for having communion together – “in remembrance of me.” He was showing them that tomorrow He would be the bread of life (John 6:35) broken for them. But here, it was the resurrected Jesus, risen Christ, the living bread reminding them of Himself.

Before the breaking of bread, they were kept from recognising him (Luke 24:16) but once He broke the bread, blessed it and gave it to them, their eyes were opened. This was more than a reminder, it was a revelation. They had a revelation that the person before them was Jesus Himself. Not only was it Jesus, it was Jesus alive (and not dead)! Just moments before, they saw the man standing before them as no more than a knowledgable man, and after that, He was recognised as the Resurrected Christ (v24). The breaking of bread was the move of the miracle itself.

Was there anything special about the breaking of bread that allowed them to recognise the risen Christ?

For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26

But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16

Yes there is.Communion is the symbolic act of the gospel, the story of the cross and Christ. Whenever we partake of communion, we retell the gospel story, we remember Christ. Communion is a proclamation. The action of breaking the bread makes a declaration / announcement of Jesus’ body broken for our sins. It is the gospel being revealed in practical action. It causes us to turn our eyes to the cross and to Christ. The breaking of bread has the spiritual might to lift the veil and cause us to see Christ afresh.

In a way, we are all on the journey to Emmaus. Christ journeys with us and woos us to Himself. He interrupts our foolish minds and slow heart (v25) and speaks understanding into our Spirit. He is there and has always been there, yet sometimes when He speaks, we fail to recognise Him. The next time we break bread together, think about what is released by this simple act of declaration. Think about the unveiling of our eyes to recognise the risen Christ. In our daily lives to recognise Christ. In our work places, in our families, in our hobbies, He is there, and He has always been there. It’s about time we made that declaration that the world might see Christ as we do.

The Insult

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Mark 7:24-30 (Read also Matthew 15:21-28)

Jesus went out into Gentile territory for some peace and quiet, He went into the old port city of Tyre in Phoenicia. He wanted to be anonymous, He didn’t want hordes of disciples following Him as before. Jesus was on a holiday trip. Then came this Greek woman from the region, chasing after Jesus. She knows the miraculous power that Jesus carries and she is desperate for Him to heal her daughter. We are told that her daughter is “possessed by an impure spirit” and is “suffering terribly”.

Jesus’ usual demeanor towards the sick or suffering is one of compassion (Mark 5:1-18) but here He gives her a sharp and insulting reply. He says that His mission is toward the children (of God), the Jews, and likens Gentiles (like her) to dogs. Dogs, in those days were considered unclean animals, their status was below a slave. Even though they were accepted as pets or work animals in households, calling someone a dog was still highly derogatory.

Jesus, being a Jewish rabbi, sees Jews apart from and above the other nations (Deuteronomy 14:2; Exodus 4:22, 19:5). They are the exclusively chosen nation and the children of God. Here He eludes to Himself as the bread (Exodus 16; John 6:32-40) – the sustenance of life. He is their bread, He belongs to the children of Israel. His mission of reconciliation and redemption is first towards the Jews. Although He didn’t agree with what the Jews have made the Law out to be, He was still a fervent believer that they were God’s priority.

In the face of Jesus’ offensive words, the woman’s reply was powerful. She acknowledged that Jesus was for the Jews but did not exclude herself from making Jesus her own. She humbled herself to be identified with a dog and says that even the dogs eat the crumbs of the bread that fall off. For the faith in her heart and humility in her words, she was rewarded with the healing she wanted.

Her humility caused her to lay her own ethnicity before Christ. She did not assert her own status, her own ethnicity, her own home town or the fact that He was standing on her side of the fence! She bowed to agree with Jesus that she is secondary. Giving up her rights to be respected, she considers herself wholly at His mercy. In His kingdom, she has no rights. In His economy, she is but lowly, poor and desolate. She is humble but bold. In her humility, she is assertive. She asserts that the kingdom has crumbs; it has extras from the plenty. She asserts that even the extras are more than enough for her. In His kingdom, abundance is poured out. In His economy, there is no small change because even the small is immeasurable to us.

This woman helps us to understand how we as Gentile Christians relate to the Jews and our Jewish Jesus. We as Gentiles receive the side benefits of God’s redemption of Israel as ingrafted branches (Romans 11:11-24) / sheep in the other pen (John 10:16). Through the blood of Christ, we are inducted into God’s household (Ephesians 2:11-22). 

So even the side benefits of God’s redemption is more than enough. You see, the crumbs aren’t left overs, they are side benefits from the plenty that are for the children. His kingdom is one of abundance (Matthew 14:13-21) and overflow. There is more than enough in His kingdom for both the Jews and Gentiles. Every bit of grace from God is more than enough grace for us. Even bit of provision is more than enough for us. His finished work on the cross is more than enough redemption, healing, deliverance, freedom and provision for the world.

This woman exemplifies the combination of humility, boldness and faith. May we approach Christ as she did.