Before I share this recipe with you, please read these paraphrased words of Jesus from chapter 6 of John’s Gospel:
“I am the Bread of LIFE. If you come to me and trust me you will never be hungry or thirsty again. All whom my Father gives me will come to me and I will never reject anyone. Trust me and you will possess the very LIFE of God. I am living bread come down from heaven. If you eat this bread you will have God’s very own LIFE within you. My body is bread given so that everyone everywhere and everywhen shall have LIFE. You cannot have God’s LIFE unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. When you eat my flesh and drink my blood you possess God’s own LIFE and I will raise you up from among the dead on the last day. My flesh is true and genuine flesh and my blood is true and genuine drink. When you eat my flesh and drink my blood you dwell continually in me and I dwell in you. Just as the living Father has sent me, and I live through the Father, even so when you continue to feed on me–be nourished by me–you shall live in and through me. This is the bread which came down from heaven. When you eat this bread you have God’s LIFE within you.”
Yes, Jesus is the bread of LIFE. There can be no question of that–if we believe the Bible. But did you also know that we–that you–are the bread of LIFE, too? In our unique relationship with the living Jesus, we too become the bread of LIFE for other people. Where do we read this in the Bible?
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Jesus? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 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)
Jesus often spoke in parables in order to use natural things to show spiritual truths or to use ordinary things we know about in order to help us understand things that otherwise might be difficult to readily understand. God’s bread recipe is my parable to help you understand 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 of this parable 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 in 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. So, this is the Parable of the Bread.
As you well 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 describe in this parable 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 you—or when you first became aware of his choosing? 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 and 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.
Parenthetically, you have doubtless heard or read in the Old Testament of the great temple built by the famed King Solomon. It was one of the most magnificent buildings upon the earth to that point in time. That splendid temple was built upon the site of a former grain threshing floor Solomon’s father, King David, had purchased years earlier. The greater Son of David, King Jesus, is building another temple in the earth today: a temple far surpassing the splendor of Solomon’s temple. It is the temple made of living building materials—us! And that temple is being built upon a foundation of threshing: a threshing floor purchased with the blood of King Jesus. You can read about that temple throughout the New Testament.
Let’s return to the next step in the breadmaking process. Next, we have to be sifted and re-sifted in order to remove all that’s hard, crusty, and gritty in our lives. I believe those things having to be sifted out are those areas of our lives we do not wish to willingly surrender to God, so they have to go through the sifting process in order for us to willingly release them to him. The Breadmaker is determined his bread will be the very best! 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 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 in order that 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 of it. All the ingredients must be mixed thoroughly with the flour by stirring, blending, beating, whipping and pounding. Isn’t the Master Breakmaker thorough? 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!
Heat 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 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 dross 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 burning.
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 not healthy, and is 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 had 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 our brothers and sisters in Jesus, knit together in love as living stones in the temple of God, a part of the vital, LIFE-giving Body of Jesus, the Bread of God, to our hungry world!
And so ends God’s Bread recipe, the Parable of the Bread.
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Revised and Updated June 2018