There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread in your own home, is there?
More and more people are finding this out. One of the surprising consequences of the pandemic-associated lockdowns has been a resurgence of home baking. So many people have been baking bread at home in recent months that some stores have even run out of yeast and flour.
For beginners, it might take some time to get the knack of baking bread from scratch. Even for more experienced home bakers, baking the perfect loaf of bread will take numerous tries and repeated tweaks to the recipe.
The Bible has a few things to say about this life-giving substance. By tracing the story of bread through the Scriptures, we can see how the “recipe” improves over time, culminating in something we all desire:
The perfect bread.
We find an early mention of bread in the Old Testament book of Exodus. The children of Israel were about to be freed by God from captivity in Egypt, and didn’t have time to let their bread dough rise in the normal way. They had to eat unleavened bread, made without yeast, because they were about to leave in a hurry.
To commemorate this event, God instructed the Jews to eat unleavened bread during future celebrations of Passover, a command they’ve obeyed for millennia. In Deuteronomy 16:3 this bread was called the “bread of affliction.”
Following the children of Israel’s miraculous deliverance from bondage in Egypt, they found themselves in the desert with nothing to eat. Again, God performed a miracle for them. He rained down manna from Heaven for them for the forty years of their sojourn in the wilderness.
Manna resembled flakes of frost that appeared on the ground during the night like dew; in its raw state it tasted like sweet wafers. The children of Israel collected it and then prepared it for eating. Psalm 78:25 calls manna the “bread of angels.”
Moving to the New Testament, another bread-related miracle is told in the account of the five loaves and two fishes. This story is found in each of the Gospels, and relates how Jesus miraculously multiplied the meagre provision of five small barley loaves and two fish to feed five thousand men, as well as thousands more women and children.
There was more than enough for everyone, and after the meal, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up (more than they had started with!). Just as God had provided manna for the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jesus provided food for His followers in a deserted place.
As you may have noticed, we’ve been seeing a progression in these Biblical accounts of bread. On the eve of their deliverance from Egypt, the children of Israel had to make do with cracker-like unleavened bread which they made themselves from scratch. In the wilderness, God provided manna for them, but they had to gather it and then cook or bake it.
In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the hungry crowd didn’t even need to gather or bake anything: Jesus did all the work for them by miraculously multiplying the already-baked loaves. This miracle of temporary provision provided a foretaste of God’s permanent solution to our spiritual hunger.
We now come to the culmination of the story of bread in the Bible. In John 6:32-35, Jesus mentions the manna that rained down from Heaven, but then reveals something superior: an eternal source of sustenance and life. Jesus tells the people that “the true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They respond by saying, “Give us that bread every day.”
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.”
Here, Jesus reveals the perfect “recipe” for life-giving bread, one that will never run out: Himself. We don’t need to do any work to receive this bread: all we need to do is believe in Christ’s atoning work for us on the Cross. And the sustenance this bread gives us doesn’t just last one day, like manna or the multiplied loaves: Jesus, the bread of heaven, nourishes us eternally.
Are you hungry for this type of bread?
Put your faith in Jesus, the bread of life, and your spiritual longings will be fully satisfied!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.