Fresh Bread

[From the archives.]

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When reading Lois Tverberg’s Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus I came across her definition of “Shabbat” (or Sabbath) as literally meaning “cease”. It’s an interesting word, “cease”. Its simplicity and clarity help me understand better how the ancient Israelites would have looked on the command to rest on their Shabbat: cease.

Soon after, I read Keri Wyatt Kent’s entry on “manna” in Deeper Into the Word. She pointed out that through the instruction to gather only enough manna for a single day Israel learned to trust God for their daily needs. They found that if they took too much, though, it turned rotten by the next morning; they had to wait for the next morning to get their supply for the day ahead.

Yet there was one day that could gather a double amount: on Friday mornings they were to get enough for Friday and Saturday both, because Saturday was the Shabbat and there would be no manna sent that day. After all, they were to cease from work on Shabbat and gathering manna is a type of harvesting or work.

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, Bernardo Strozzi (Wikipedia)

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes,
Bernardo Strozzi
(Wikipedia)

Keri then pointed out that when Jesus fed five thousand people by multiplying one young boy’s loaves and fish, his watchers would likely have remembered Moses and the manna. They would have remembered that just as God fed his hungry people when they were wandering in the wilderness, Jesus fed the hungry multitude in a remote place far from a market and home.

There’s a distinct difference, though. When the people finished eating the bread and fish Jesus’ disciples gathered 12 baskets of extra food yet, unlike manna, it did not spoil. Instead, much like the two days’ worth of manna gathered for both Friday and Shabbat, this food was wholesome. Why was there extra food? I think it’s because there’s a connection between Shabbat and the bread that Jesus multiplied.

Here’s where it comes together: Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and in him we find our Sabbath rest; nothing goes bad in Jesus because everything that he creates is good; Jesus provides not only what we need, but does it richly and abundantly.

No wonder Jesus, soon after feeding the five thousand, explained:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:48-51.)

The very Bread of Heaven sustains us and gives us rest from our struggles. Amen.

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Do you find it easy or hard to rest in Jesus? What does that say about your understanding of God?

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8 Responses to Fresh Bread

  1. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for re-posting this, Tim. Your comments, in combination with those of the other writers, make the OT and NT passages come alive. I think I tend to think of “bread of life” in a very specific sense, that is, Jesus’ body dying on the cross; yet as central as that is, there’s so much more to that image. Jesus is our food, our breath, our living water — everything we need, every moment.

    • Tim says:

      You’ve captured it, Jeannie. When Jesus spoke of being the Bread of Heaven, he spoke of life. When we are nourished by that spiritual food we can’t help but live life with greater strength and energy than any earthly physical food could provide.

  2. Laura Droege says:

    I find it difficult to rest in Jesus, mostly because I can’t figure out what “rest” looks like beyond the physical realm. Rest, when my mind is always going, going, like the Energizer Bunny doping on amphetamines? What does mental and spiritual rest look and feel like?

    • Tim says:

      Those are hard questions, Laura. I think Jesus knew how hard it is too, because when he said we should come to him and find rest he used that vivid imagery of a yolk and burdens and being weary and tired. In part, I think that finding rest in God involves not looking for our rest elsewhere because we’re not going to find it on our own.

  3. Pastor Bob says:

    This says it best:
    “Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath”

    Who will say amen?

  4. I love this on a spiritual level, Tim, and believe it to be true. However, I’m not sure if I’ve ever figured out how to actually experience the Sabbath rest of Jesus, where everything remains fresh, not stale. I do continue to persistently hope.

    • Tim says:

      The way that worldly concerns pull us down, and just the general effect of the fall, it all interferes with our ability to find true Sabbath rest. I think it’s the same interference the Israelites encountered when trying to find rest on Sabbath days and in Sabbath years.

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