Parables – Short, simple, familiar stories about ordinary people, events, and places to explain, teach, or illustrate spiritual truths.
Here’s my parable about bread . . .
According to the 6th chapter of John’s biography of Jesus in the New Testament portion of the Bible, Jesus said He is the Bread of LIFE. Yes, Jesus is the bread of LIFE. There can be no question of that—if we believe the Bible. But did you know that we—you, me—are the bread of LIFE, too? In our unique relationship with Jesus living inside us in his “unbodied form” of the Holy Spirit, we, too, become the bread of LIFE for other people. Where do we read this in the Bible?
“When we take communion, the bread which we break, isn’t it the communion of the body of Jesus? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10: 16 and 17, paraphrased and condensed)
Jesus often spoke of natural, familiar things in order to help us understand spiritual realities that otherwise might be difficult to readily understand. This issue is about how we, too, are the bread of God for people who are hungry for a vital and LIFE-giving relationship with the true and living God through Jesus.
I learned the basic truths about breadmaking from watching my mother, who for years—from my earliest memories—always made homemade bread and rolls, especially for family gatherings. Even as I write these words, in my mind I can see her at the old round oak table in her dining area working at the large stainless steel bowl she used for years to make her bread and rolls.
Around the table are scattered all the ingredients, with perhaps a grandchild or great-grandchild “helping” my mother make the bread or rolls. I can picture on the viewing screen of my mind all the steps she took to make her bread. As you know, bread—properly made—is life-giving, tasty, nutritious, and satisfying. However, bread made by someone who does not know how to make it, nor how to follow the recipe, is often far from tasty and nutritious. Sometimes, in these instances, it can even be hard or rubbery, or burned, or doughy. This will often occur because the bread maker was either careless in following the recipe or was in a hurry. The bread I will describe is always perfect bread because the Breadmaker is perfect and always follows a perfect recipe.
As you also know, bread begins as wheat (or some other grain). In this recipe it is always the choicest grain carefully chosen by the Breadmaker and harvested at the exact moment it is perfectly ripe. It is never harvested too early in the season nor too late. The grain is chosen just when the harvest field is at its ripest.
Remember how happy and excited you were when God first chose (“harvested”) you—or when you first became aware He chose you? You were greatly excited and wanted to rush right out to feed the hungry people among your circle of friends and acquaintances—and then go to the entire world with the Good News about Jesus.
But the Breadmaker knows full well the complete bread making process, and he knows that when we are first chosen by him—harvested by him—most of us are seldom ready to go out and feed—really feed—the hungry. First, the grain must be separated from the chaff. That is the threshing process. The grain must be pounded, ground, and hammered in order to separate the chaff from the rich kernel of grain where all the LIFE is. As newly harvested grain, we so often wonder about this threshing process, and even get discouraged, but it is an essential part of the process. After the threshing is complete, we then feel we are ready to feed the hungry. But not yet!
There are more steps in the recipe. Let’s examine each step very carefully to see how God makes us into bread to feed people who are spiritually hungry.
The next step is sifting the flour. We must be sifted in order to remove all that’s hard, crusty, and gritty in our lives. Those things having to be sifted out are the areas of our lives we do not wish to willingly surrender to God, so they have to undergo the sifting process in order for us to willingly release them to him. Having been sifted, we are now so smooth, and so soft, and so fine. Surely, we think, we must now be ready to feed the hungry. But not yet!
Have you ever tried to eat plain flour? We must now be mixed with other ingredients. First, yeast is needed. Yeast works in the flour by actually causing some of its elements to decay and die so that the nutritious parts can rise and become part of the bread. This symbolizes the work of God’s Spirit in us, causing our old mortal life to die so that Jesus’ new, eternal LIFE might come forth in its place. Yes, the yeast is a symbol of death and decay so that Jesus’ rich, nourishing LIFE can rise within us.
The next ingredient is salt. Do you remember Jesus said we are the salt of the earth? Salt is a preservative, and is another symbol of God’s Spirit Who preserves us until our resurrection when Jesus returns. Tasty, nourishing bread also needs a sweetener. The best sweetener to use in bread is honey. God’s Word, the Bible, is honey to our lives. We need generous portions of it so God’s bread may be sweet to the taste of those who eat it.
Next, shortening is needed. Shortening (or oil) often symbolizes God’s Spirit at work in the lives of God’s children. The final ingredient essential to the bread-making process is water. Water symbolizes the Holy Spirit poured out in our lives. Do you remember the Bible says God will pour out his Spirit upon all people? It is the LIFE-giving rain of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, eternally quenching the thirst of all who drink God’s Water.
All the ingredients must be mixed thoroughly with the flour by stirring, blending, beating, whipping and pounding. At first, the mixing together is easy, but soon the dough is too solid for the mixing spoon, so we are taken up in the Breadmaker’s hands and in loving, personal attention, he begins to knead, mash, pound, and smooth us. And we begin to feel after this part of the process is finished we are finally ready to feed the hungry. But not yet!
Warmth and Solitude
Now we are carefully placed in a deep pan or dish, often covered over, and then placed on a high shelf where it is warm—not hot or cold—and there we are left seemingly all alone, neglected, and forgotten by the Breadmaker. Have you had times like this in various areas of your life and service to God? A time and place of dullness? Dreariness? A time and place where you feel all alone and abandoned by God? A place where it is neither hot nor cold? A place of semidarkness? It’s a good thing the Breadmaker first oiled us generously with oil, or we’d become dry, hard, and crusty while we wait there on the shelf in the semidarkness.
We feel we are left there for s-o-o-o-o long. It’s like an eternity, and we feel utterly useless and worthless, discouraged and abandoned. But inside, the yeast is at work silently, relentlessly decaying the old life, seething, bubbling, bringing forth the new LIFE of God within us. Finally, we have risen to the top of the pan and we think we are ready at last. But not yet!
The Breadmaker comes to the shelf and the same process is repeated. He mashes us down once again and back we go to the shelf, to that gloomy, warm semidarkness, seemingly forgotten and abandoned once again. But the yeast within us will not give up. The new LIFE begins to rise again. And again the Breadmaker comes and mashes us down. More oil is added and again we are returned to the shelf. But that vibrant new LIFE within us continues to rise and we begin to look very pretty and fluffy. Once again we think we are finally ready to feed the hungry. But not yet!
The Breadmaker knows how tasteless and non-nourishing we would be in that state, so we are now prepared for the most important part of the bread-making process.
The Baking Process
We are now placed in an oven that has been pre-heated to just the exact temperature. Why did we ever struggle and question so much while we were on that nice lukewarm shelf? It was nothing like this terrible heat! We beg for the Breakmaker to lower the temperature. But he will not, for if he did the bread would flatten. We then beg him to turn up the heat in order to be baked as quickly as possible. But he will not do that either, for if he did we would be burned black on the outside and be doughy and untasty on the inside. He will not remove us from the oven too soon. The only possible comfort we can feel at this stage of the process is to know the Breadmaker can be trusted to remove us from the oven at precisely the correct moment. Our experience in the oven is designed to burn out all the rubbish remaining in our lives from the previous stages of the process. Those areas of our lives God wants to cleanse sometimes have to be cleansed by fire.
The momentous time for which we have waited so long finally arrives. We are removed from the oven. We feel we are now ready to be used to feed the hungry. But not yet!
There is one more step to the process. Hot bread eaten immediately after it is removed from the oven is unhealthy, and soggy. There must be a period of cooling. So again we wait. But this time the waiting is different, for a delicious fragrance is being wafted through the air. People around us know that fresh bread is about to be served.
The Bread is Broken
The Breadmaker takes us up in his hands once again. We remember the threshing, the sifting, the blending, the kneading, the rising, the waiting, the heat of the oven, the hungry who await nourishment. Lovingly, the Breadmaker now breaks us in his hands and we finally understand his wisdom and compassion in the long bread-making process. At last, we have become nourishing, LIFE-giving bread for the hungry.
The Breadmaker has done all things well! It has been worth it all! What a privilege to be bread broken for those around us who are hungry for the true Bread of LIFE. What a privilege to be a little like Him who is that true Bread from heaven: The Living Jesus. And as we continually feed upon Him who is the true Bread of LIFE, his LIFE flows through us in the bread-making process, and we are broken and consumed in being bread of LIFE to others. We become one bread with all brothers and sisters in Jesus, knit together in love as part of the vital, LIFE-giving Body of Jesus, the Church, the Bread of God, to our hungry world!
And so ends the parable of the Perfect Breadmaker and his perfect bread.
“Jesus said, ‘I am the Bread of LIFE. The person who receives me hungers and thirsts no more, ever . . . Every person handed over to me by my Father will be whole and complete—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I will have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. My part is to put everyone on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time. Again, I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth. Whoever puts their trust in me receives real LIFE, the LIFE of eternity. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down from heaven.’” –paraphrased and summarized from John 6
To Think About This Month
“God’s Bread—Jesus—is much more healthy for us than any expensive bread you can purchase at your local bakery or health food store. And God’s Bread is free!”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated March 2019