Baking Bread, Breaking Bread

Baker's Dozen

Ever seen The Passion of the Christ? A brilliant and beautiful movie if I do say so myself. Of course, I'm somewhat partial. Somewhat? Ebert gave it four out of four stars which I thought was admirable. What stood out to me in spite of all the brutality enacted upon Jesus was the stark contrast of the scenes of Jesus' torture to the flashbacks in the upper room. I remember Jesus pulling the fresh loaves, hot, steaming, from the oven. That one scene, just a few frames of film, is very poignant for me. Something about that fresh, hot flatbread.

Many times in the Old and New Testaments does it talk about bread. Jesus is "that bread of life." (John 6:48)

When Jesus said that we should not live "by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4), He's saying that there's something deeper than our bodies that needs sustaining. Namely our spirit. Jesus, the bread of life, is also the living Word (see John 1:14). The bread of communion that represents His body that was "given" for us (Luke 22:19) is meant to nourish our spirit--through His word. When reading the King James Version of the Bible and you come across the word "meat", know that it's referring to bread or food. Jesus told the disciples when they showed up to meet Him at the well in Samaria, that He had "meat (bread) to eat that ye know not of." (John 4:32). Jesus' constant and uninterrupted communion with His Father enabled Him to receive nourishment for His soul and spirit that in turn enabled Him to do the things He set out to do. Namely, the will of His Father. And this, if I may, is the reason for sustenance: to keep our body alive so we can be "about [our] Father's business" (Luke 2:49), as Jesus was of His. His Father and ours is one and the same, by the way.

Bread "strengthens man's heart" as it says in Psalm 104 (verse 15). Go to any well-stocked health food store and you're sure to find "Ezekiel Bread" which is made from a simple recipe found in the book of Ezekiel (4:9).

When Jesus fed the multitudes with the five loaves (and two fishes, see John 6:9), He took what was given Him by the boy who was there and made it enough. When God gives you something out of His word (to use the bread/scripture parallel), you can effectively take that with which you've been blessed and in turn feed and nourish others whom God brings into your sphere of influence. That is, after it's fed and nourished you first.

"He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat." (Mark 6:37)

Another aspect of the bread analogy is the concept of leaven, or yeast as it's commonly referred to today. Take any slice of bread or just cut open a loaf yourself and you'll see hundreds of tiny air pockets. This is caused by the chemical reaction and subsequent gas expulsion of the yeast within the bread mix. Baking bread, as my dad would say, is simply a chemistry experiment. Jesus warned His disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." (Mark 8:15) What Jesus is saying here is to keep the word in your heart pure from others' diluted interpretation--their hot air. The Israelites, when they were instructed by Moses in the preparation of the Exodus from Egypt, were commanded to eat "unleavened bread" (Exodus 12:8) at the Passover meal. This symbolized their rejection of the system of the world and the hot air–to be direct–of Egyptian paganism.

Next time you see a bread truck or you're at the supermarket, think for a moment and if you feel so inclined, thank Jesus for being the bread of life.

Bon appétit!