After a good break & week of catching up - back to business as usual!
Bread for others Exodus 16:2-4,9-15 John 6:24-35
What is bread? Bread is what we need to live, to survive. We pray ‘give us today our daily bread’, meaning not just bread itself, but all the material things we need to continue to keep body & soul together.
So John in last week’s gospel reading, tells us the story of more than bread when he tells us about Jesus feeding of the 5000. Jesus shows the people that he is the one who can feed them, just as God fed the people of Israel in the desert with manna. This sign from John’s gospel shows that Jesus is the one from God who can do the great works of God, and that he is worthy to be followed. Jesus is the 1 who feeds people.
Jesus, in today’s reading, explains to people that it wasn’t Moses who fed them, but God. They mustn’t pay too much attention to the one who told them to expect the bread, they need to concentrate on God, who gives them what they need.
John does not stop his story at the point at which Jesus provides bread. The people return to him and he says “I am the bread of life” – showing his disciples that he is greater than Moses, the great leader of the people of God in the desert. The bread of life which Jesus is offering is greater than the manna which kept the people alive for a time.
So Jesus is teaching his followers that instead of seeing Jesus as being like Moses, they should see him as being like bread, the thing sent from God in heaven above in order to save God’s people.
Jesus is doing more than offering people bread, he is offering them eternal life.
Bread is a sign of what we need to live, not just to survive but to really live – and Jesus offers us that.
So Jesus says "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
What else is bread? Bread is also a sign of friendship – a ‘companion’ is literally one we break bread with.
Jesus was continually criticised for eating with tax collectors and sinners – he would break bread with the lonely and the outcast and those considered ‘unclean’.
So in offering people bread Jesus is saying more than just ‘come and eat with me’, he is offering acceptance and fellowship.
When Jesus talks about himself as the bread of life – the one who gives himself to give life to others, he invites all to eat . And when he gives life to his followers he strengthens them so that they can share that life with all whom they meet.
Being followers of Jesus can never mean that we sit back & rest in the knowledge that we are in a living relationship with God. We are all challenged to follow Jesus and to seek out the needy of our world, to offer them sustenance in the name of the living God.
Whoever and wherever we are we need to have our eyes open to the needs of the world around us and to ask what, in the name of Christ, we can do.
We who have received the living Bread of heaven can offer bread to the hungry, medicines to the sick, encouragement to the down-hearted: either in person, or through others.
And if we wonder whether we are strong enough to be of any help to other people, if we wonder what it is we have to offer, we need to remember what we are about to receive: God’s gift of himself, offered in Jesus Christ, offered as bread for the world, so that wherever we go we can be sustained by his life and his love.
So may God feed us at this table and may we go in the strength of Christ to be life for the world, bread for the hungry, God’s own for the world.
To the glory of God. Amen.