Give us this day our daily bread—Matthew 6:11 KJV
For thousands and thousands of years, bread has been the staff of life. It is the one food most people have considered essential to life.
The Bible is absolutely filled with references to bread. It’s mentioned over 350 times—most often as that which sustains life.
When God sentenced Adam to a life-time of laborious work to feed himself, it was bread that was mentioned as his food. (Genesis 3:19) Abraham instructed Sarah to make bread for visiting angels. (Genesis 18:5) Unleavened bread was an integral part of Passover. (Genesis 12:39) The LORD rained down bread from heaven daily, which was called “Manna,” to keep the Israelites alive in the desert. (Exodus 16) Bread was also commonly used as an offering to God and the LORD commanded in Leviticus 24 that bread was to always be in the tabernacle.
The devil tempted Jesus with bread. (Matthew 4:3) and Jesus miraculously multiplied bread on two occasions to feed thousands.
On one of these occasions, crowds of people were literally chasing Him across land and sea to get more of this bread. (John 6)
And when they found Him and asked for more bread, Jesus tried to turn the conversation from the physical to the spiritual. Their instance on the physical is almost comical.
In verse 26 and 27, Jesus tells the crowd He knows they are seeking physical bread, but they should be seeking eternal food, which He promises to give them.
The crowd responds by asking what they can do to earn such bread.
Jesus responds by telling them to believe in Him.
The crowd responds by asking for a sign like, oh say, bringing down bread from heaven like Moses did. And, bingo, we’re right back down to the here-and-now and our empty stomachs.
Jesus, ever pointing upward, reminds the crowd that it was not Moses that gave the bread, but God. He says the true bread comes from God and gives life to the world.
The crowd says, “Good enough. God bread, Moses bread, whatever. We’ll take it. Where is it? Give it to us.” (I have paraphrased liberally here.)
Then Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”
In other words, “It’s me.”
Jesus is the One who gives eternal life. Jesus satisfies all we hunger and thirst for. Eternal life comes from Jesus. Jesus is the living bread of life.
And then Jesus starts talking about people eating His flesh to live forever.
The crowd is now completely lost. They were hungry and Jesus had fed them the day before. They just wanted some more bread, but this “teacher” or “prophet” or whatever He was is not making any sense to them. He keeps talking about the Father and heaven, and eternal life, but meanwhile their bellies are still growling. So, the discussion ends with the crowd getting angry and grumbling among themselves.
Even the disciples said “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (Verse 60b)
By the time Jesus gets done explaining it, verse 66 says that many of his disciples had left Him.
Even when we get to the Last Supper and Jesus breaks the bread, and says, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19b) I don’t get the impression that light bulbs were going on in the disciples’ heads.
Finally, after He had been crucified and risen from the dead and walked with two of them for about two hours on the road to Emmaus, and then explained Scripture to them about Himself, it’s when He broke the bread that FINALLY some light bulbs came on. (Luke 24:31)
Now, I’m not saying that I’m any smarter than any of the disciples. It would be absolutely foolish to say I would have picked up on any of this had I been in their sandals at the time.
No, the Holy Spirit gets the credit for that.
But, as I was pondering all of this, it occurred to me that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray and, in the middle of the prayer, He taught them to ask for daily bread, did He mean physical bread to sustain our mortal bodies?
Or did He intend that we ask for a big helping of Jesus Himself to rain down on us from heaven each and every day of our lives?
Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
He rained down manna for the people to eat,
He gave them the grain of heaven.
Human beings ate the bread of angels;
He sent them all the food they could eat. (Psalm 78: 23-25 NIV)