Submission and Obedience

Broken Bread

Who doesn't love the aroma of baking bread? Mix and knead the ingredients, pop the proofed loaf into a hot oven and savor the aroma as it bakes. Cut through the fresh hot crust, spread a dollop of butter and a drizzle of honey on a delectable slice, then relish bite after bite! Fresh bread is over the moon!

Friends who live in the Middle East say that bread is the dietary staple of their national culture. Every meal centers on bread bought fresh each morning at the open-air market. Bread in one form or another has been a major part of the diet for people around the world for centuries.

Manna: Bread from Heaven

For instance, take the ancient Hebrews. After God miraculously rescued them from slavery in Egypt and parted the Red Sea for their safe passage to the other side, those millions of people wandered in the wilderness hungry and complaining about their plight. They grumbled against Moses, and they grumbled against God.

God heard their cry and performed another miracle. Every morning He sent mysterious little flakes from heaven that He called manna.

Daily the people harvested enough manna to feed the family. No hoarding was allowed. On Friday they collected two days' worth to see them through the Sabbath rest. Any other day they saved extra manna, it grew maggots and was not fit to eat!

Before the Jewish nation left the wilderness and went into the Promised Land, the prophet Moses recapped their 40 years spent walking. God wanted them to remember Who had brought them safely through all their wanderings, their clothes still intact and their stomachs filled. Thus, Moses said to the people,

"He (God) humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." Deuteronomy 8:3.

In other words, God wanted the Hebrews to know the order of importance in their priorities: There is physical bread, but it originates with God. He and what He says come first for our souls' welfare before His provision of bread for our bodies.

The True Bread

Thousands of years later in the New Testament, the Pharisees and Sadducees brought up the manna event when they tried to trap Jesus in His answer. "So they asked Him, 'What sign then will You perform, so that we may see it and believe You? What will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written: "He gave them bread from heaven."' They wanted to see if Jesus could do one better than Moses!

"Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven...'" John 6:30.

Jesus trapped them in their own deception. They talked about manna from heaven, not recognizing that the True Bread, the Living Manna was standing and talking with them. Too blind and proud to kneel down and receive the Bread that would forever satisfy their hunger, they went away empty, victims of their own deceit!

Manna. Bread. God's tools to teach the Jews how to rightly prioritize their needs and to put Him first before seeking worldly goods. In fact, during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33. Get your priorities right: God first and foremost; other matters are secondary.

Blessed Bread

Jesus drew a crowd one day as He taught and healed. The time grew late and the people were hungry without a McDonald's in sight. Even if the disciples had had enough cash on hand, they could not possibly have carried enough provisions from town to feed a crowd of 5000 men plus women and children.

But one middle-schooler in the crowd had a mother who loved her growing boy. She wanted to be sure he stayed to hear Jesus without leaving for home early from hunger. So she had sent him on his way with a small lunch: five barley loaves and two small fish. Barley was the cheapest grain of the day, probably the best she could afford. After grinding the grain between stones to make flour, she formed little cakes she baked on rocks around the fire pit. Her son came equipped to stay at the meeting with Jesus! What a wise mother!

Unselfishly, the young man offered his lunch to the disciples to take to Jesus. Oh, did He receive it! He prayed over that little lunch and it fed the entire crowd until they were stuffed...with twelve baskets of left-overs to send home with the boy and other hungry families. Yes, that part of the story is imagined, but probably happened.

Barley bread. The staple of a boy's lunch, and it fed so many! On that occasion, Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life.; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." John 6:35. Essentially, Jesus meant that while He had given them bread that satisfied their hunger, He was spiritual bread they needed to feed their souls. He used that barley bread to teach the crowd who He IS: the Bread of Life! The humble, lowly One whom most people rejected was the One on whom they needed to feed for their souls' sake.

It is most unfortunate that provisions God gives us out of His goodness become the object of our desire, and we forget the One who provided them. It happened in ancient Israel and it has happened in the prosperous United States. She has forgotten to the point even of rejecting the God who established our nation and blessed us profusely with His goodness.

Bread or The WORD?

At the very start of His earthly ministry and right after His baptism in the Holy Spirit at the Jordan, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. Hmmmm...Might it have been like the wilderness where the Hebrews wandered for 40 years and ate manna? It was a wilderness, nonetheless, and the first thing after He finished His fast, the devil told Jesus to turn the stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. A scenario similar to thousands of years earlier.

The devil wanted Jesus to prove who He was. In truth, the devil wanted to control Jesus by appealing to His pride. An ordinary man would want to prove he was powerful enough to perform a miracle, and would have capitulated to the devil's command. But recall, Jesus once said, "The devil has nothing IN Me." Jesus had NO impurity. His father was the Holy Spirit, not a human man. He had no inbred sin, no carnal pride, and didn't have to answer to the devil or to men. He answered only to God, His Heavenly Father, and His Father had sent Jesus to become the sacrifice for our sins.

To be the perfect Lamb, Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered, even starvation. He obeyed His Father and quoted His Father's words from Deuteronomy 8:3: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4. God's word meant more to Jesus than satisfying His extreme physical hunger. It should be most important to us, too.

So, there you have it, devil. You wanted Jesus to make bread. Instead, the Living Bread quoted the same thing to you that He said to the Hebrews in the wilderness thousands of years before. That One trembling before you in weakness from hunger is the One who made the manna! He IS God! Your Creator! He IS the Manna sent to satisfy the hungry soul of lost mankind!

Broken Bread and Poured Out Wine

The following account is found in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; and John 13:1-30:

It was toward the end of His earthly ministry at the last Passover supper Jesus shared with His disciples that He again brought bread into the picture. This time it was a sobering event. The twelve reclined at the table with Him, watching, waiting.

First, He took a morsel of bread called a sop and told His twelve that one of them was going to betray Him. A shockwave shook the group. Jesus left no mystery to His statement: It would be the one to whom He handed the sop after dipping it in the sauce. The recipient was Judas.

Judas received the bread and most likely ate it. The moment he swallowed it, the devil filled Judas' breast. He rose and went into the night to find the chief priest and rulers of the synagogue to arrange for Jesus' betrayal. He had eaten the bread unworthily, an action that sealed his fate in hell forever!

After Judas' exit from the meal, Jesus took more bread, broke it (just as He had done when He fed thousands) and gave a piece to each disciple. "Take, eat; this is My body." Ah! There's the bread again but now it takes on new significance. Not enough bread to make a meal. Just a piece of bread the disciples were to eat that signified much more than physical nutrition. That bread symbolized Jesus' pure body.

The bread now meant that the disciples were to partake of all that Jesus had done and suffered on earth and was yet to suffer in the hours ahead. It meant spiritually eating His flesh and letting Him permeate every bit of their person just as digested food nourishes each cell in the body, until they were one with Him. It meant they were to be broken just as He had broken the loaf, so that others could feed on the Living Bread. The disciples were not their own anymore. They would minister to the needs of lost souls and become living sacrifices---broken bread and poured out wine for His sake.

Every time Jesus' believers observe the Passover Seder, familiarly called Communion by the Church today, the bread and the grape juice remind them of their oneness with Jesus in His redemption of the world. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.'"

Important Take-aways about Bread

  1. Even as bread nourishes our physical bodies, most importantly God's Word is essential bread for our souls and spirits. We eat daily to remain alive; we cannot rely on occasional or weekly 'doses' of the Bible to remain spiritually strong and healthy. We must feed on the Word daily, just as the manna was supplied fresh every morning. Read and meditate on the Word regularly.
  2. Our physical needs must NEVER take priority over obedience to God's word. We can never plead ignorance about knowing what to do in a given decision if we have neglected God's word and do not know what His will is. Hosea said it well: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you..." Hosea 4:6. We must be open to the complete word of God and study it well. Timothy wrote, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15.
  3. God's word is superior to the dictates of man. That means that if and when a law or command is handed down by an individual or government and it conflicts with what God has said, we must obey God regardless of the consequences. In those instances we must not compromise our faith. That could mean that in the future, we will be denied our freedom, food, shelter, safety, our very lives if we obey God first. We choose suffering for our faith if that must be.
  4. Jesus described a scenario when He said that "they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Family members will betray each other for the cause of Christ. We cannot justify keeping peace in the family by denying or compromising what Jesus has said we must do in His word.
  5. No matter what accusations are made against you in the future, you must decide NOW that you will stand for and with Jesus and His truth. His Word is truth. His Word is Bread. To each of the seven churches in the book of Revelation, Jesus made the same statement: "To him who overcomes..." will come the rewards of persevering to the end, no matter what it takes!

Choose to eat the Living Bread daily. Seek the True Manna every day and learn His ways and truth. Obey them. Walk and delight in them. Rejoice in Him. Save your soul, dear reader. Save your soul, for Jesus' sake. Determine your destiny TODAY by declaring you will remain true to Jesus even to the giving of your life---and live forever!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®
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