House of Bread
Several months ago, Michelle, the wife of my dear friend Paul, presented me with a loaf of bread – as a gift for Janet and me to enjoy. Well, let me tell you, we loved it. It wasn’t just any bread – Michelle is a great cook and this bread was hot out of the oven, and the best bread either one of us has ever had. About halfway through the loaf, I began to see the size of my sandwiches shrink, as they went from two slices down to one slice of Michelle’s baked delicacy. You guessed it; Janet started hoarding the bread! In fact, I thought I saw a bill for a wall safe come through, as Janet took to protecting what remained of “her” bread until it was nearly gone.
When the inevitable day approached, and the last slice was toast (get it?), Janet finally asked me to call Paul and see if perhaps we could buy some bread from their family. I felt a little odd, but Paul is my great friend and former classmate, who now happens to be president of the seminary from where we graduated. Paul and Michelle willingly obliged, but refused to let us pay for it – and when I headed out to my car after a visit – there they were – 4 fresh loaves of Michelle’s incredible bread – 2 oatmeal and 2 whole wheat. I swear that she could start a business selling this stuff on the internet. It is awesome!
Well, today we are near the end of the last loaf – Janet has kept each loaf frozen until we needed it, and today I could tell that she was a little anxious. Sure enough – “we” are down to the last several slices! I am banned from eating any more, and I don’t know the combination to the wall safe where she keeps the bread between meals 😉
Janet was extra nice to me this morning – she wondered if, since I had a light day, I had any plans to visit Paul. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what was coming next. Yep – she asked if I thought Michelle would make us some bread. So, I called Paul and met him mid-afternoon – Michelle came through again – only this time, 5 loaves. And not that Janet has a one-track mind, but when I called her to let her know that I was on the way home, the first thing she said was, “Did you get the bread?” But I was blessed also; Paul and I always have an engaging conversation, and being back at the school is like a personal sanctuary for me. I am always peaceful; and Paul and I discuss theological topics that would probably bore most people. In fact, I consider him my pastor. That’s how much I think of him.
Well, for dinner tonight, we had one of Janet’s great casseroles; mine was served with a roll. That’s right – no bread – with 5 warm loaves on the counter. Believe me now? But it has caused me to think of a variety of references to bread in the Bible.
For example, Jesus once asked his disciples to feed 5000 men and their families with 2 fish and FIVE loaves of bread. We are told, in Luke 9:16-17 (KJV), “Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.” So, bread was used to show the people one of the miracles of Jesus.
In John, 6:48, Christ tells us, “I am the bread of life.” He continues, in 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” So, Christ refers to Himself as the living bread – so that once we accept Christ, we will never be hungry again.
Of course, we also think of the line from the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, we pray that God will give us enough to sustain us through each day.
And we all know from our earliest recollections of the Christmas Story that the baby Jesus was born in a manger, in Bethlehem. Know what Bethlehem means in the Hebrew? Well, I have already told you – it’s the name of this post – “House of Bread.” Pretty cool?
And while I’m on a roll (no pun intended), the name of the city where Janet and I live is Carmel. But that’s the new name, changed many years ago from the original. And do you know what that was – Bethlehem! That’s right – we live in what was originally Bethlehem, Indiana. And right now, I think I am living in a house of bread – literally.
So my encouragement tonight is to enjoy the bread of life, Jesus Christ. And my prayer is that you will never go hungry again. Have a great day in the Lord.