Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
A few years ago I was sitting in Kumasi airport waiting for a colleague who was flying in on another airline. It was about 7 o’clock in the morning and I knew we would be in meetings all day so I decided to order some breakfast at the small restaurant in the airport.
I ordered some eggs with bread and then I asked my waitress what my options for hot drinks were. She said, “Oh we have tea.” So I said “sure I’ll have tea.” About 15 minutes later she showed up with my meal…but something was wrong. The tea was not tea at all. It was milo. So I said to her, “Oh madam…I asked for tea.” To which she responded… “eeeh yes…this is cocoa-tea.”
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
My question all weekend as I worked on this sermon was this… “why the Bread of Life?” Why bread? Why not meat or fish or chocolate? “I am the chocolate of life!” Why bread?
Bread for the people of Israel was a staple food…it was a basic dietary item…like kenkey in Jamestown…or fufu in Kumasi.
Most people could go for days living only on bread and water. It was such a basic food item that it had become synonymous for food in general…just like how I discovered that at Kumasi airport tea is synonymous for all hot drinks. Or how in Ghana, Graphic refers to every newspaper. Pepsodent to all toothpaste. And Omo to all laundry detergents.
Globally, we even use the phrase ‘breaking bread together’ to indicate the sharing of a meal with someone. In pidgin when someone says, “Chale you go fit give me bread?” They are actually asking for money.
And so by calling Himself the Bread of Life Jesus is saying He is essential for life. As essential as food. As essential as Money.
You see, Jesus is the Word of God. And when we hear this Word who is Jesus…and accept it…or eat it…if you will. The same way regular bread goes to nourish our bodies, to give us health and strength…so too the Word of God enters into our minds, our hearts, our spirit, and our souls to nourish us. It changes us. It heals us. It redeems us and makes us worthy of God.
But that still does not answer my question. Why bread?
If bread is synonymous with food…why did Christ not say, “I am the food of life?”
I believe Jesus was very deliberate about His choice of bread as opposed to food in general or any other type of food in particular. And to understand it I want us to consider the ingredients of bread and what it takes to make bread.
First of all bread contains water.
Water is a cleansing agent…it gives us life, and it energizes us.
In Ephesians 5:26-27 Paul wrote with regards to the cleansing the church that, “…He [Jesus] might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”
When we eat physical bread our bodies ingest the water that is in the bread. And it contributes to the cleansing of our bodies. Translation…Jesus is telling us that when we partake of Him…when we place our faith in Him…when we trust our all to Him…He will wash us clean and forgive us of all our sin. He will renew us through His Holy Spirit. Symbolized by water.
No blemish will remain on us. Whatever guilt we feel about what we did or said last night or even this morning…all of it will be washed away by this cleansing water…if we eat of the Bread of Life.
Bread also has salt.
Salt is used to flavor and preserve food. Anyone who is hypertensive knows that too much salt is bad. But the absence of salt is even worse.
If our bodies were to have no salt, our kidneys would not be able to regulate the water content in our bodies.
It would be as though we had no kidneys. One visit to the Korle Bu teaching hospital dialysis unit, will confirm for you that the lifespan of a person with failed kidneys is 3 days. So when Jesus says He is the Bread of Life, it is because in Him can be found that which is essential to our survival.
Just as a pinch of salt can change the taste of an entire plate of food. When we consume the Bread of Life, our entire world will be changed. All those situations that currently look bleak…will find flavor.
If we allow Him, the salt in the Bread of Life will permeate our every situation and bring preservation to our souls.
And then there’s the oil in bread…
Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is used for anointing, for healing, and for consecration. Acts 10:38 tells us that “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
When we partake of Jesus who is the Bread of Life we will receive that same power.
Think about it…throughout His ministry Jesus was mocked, insulted and beaten. But He never lacked power. We on the other hand are rarely bruised yet we are usually powerless.
The truth is, the greatest zeal and knowledge…standing in the pulpit shouting the word of God…are useless without God’s Holy Spirit providing the right perspective. The right attitude. And the right intention.
We need the oil in the Bread of Life…which is the Holy Spirit…in order that we will be powerful. In order that we will receive our healing! In order that we will receive our anointing! Be consecrated! And be set apart for eternal life.
Finally all these ingredients are put together with flour to make dough. But that is not the end of it…
…the dough is then baked…and that baked dough…that dough that has been set to the fire…is what we call bread.
Jesus the Bread of Life is not untested. He has been through the fire. In other words, Jesus is not naïve or inexperienced when it comes to our struggles or temptations.
Some of us think that He is out of touch and cannot relate to our ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ problems…but Hebrews 2:18 tells us that, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
I believe Jesus chose to describe Himself as bread not only because bread contains the ingredients we need for salvation…but because bread by its very nature is always available to us.
Bread all over the world is a typically a breakfast food. And so in choosing to describe Himself as bread, Christ is telling us that as Christians…our breakfast…that is, what we use to ‘break our fast’ must be the Bread of Life.
When we wake up in the morning, our first thought must be about Jesus. Our first book must be the Bible. Our first word must be a prayer. The Bread of Life must be our Alpha!
But bread is also an anytime and every time food. Bread is not like kofi-brokeman (amadaah ne ashah ke nkatie) that you can only find after 12 noon. It is not like coco that is only available before 10AM. And bread is not like indomie, that is only made after 6PM.
Bread is available at all times and in all places…from Kempinski to Brahabebume. Anytime of the day you want bread…you can find bread. That is how Jesus is. The Bread of Life is available to be eaten at anytime. He’s not only the Alpha…He is the Omega…anytime of the day…anytime of our lives. He is the bread for all seasons and all times.
But unfortunately, many of us have fallen victim to the deceit of the devil and now believe that we have sinned too gravely or too often to partake of Christ…but the Bread of Life is loaded and is waiting.
Full of water to cleanse us! Full of salt to preserve us! And full of oil to consecrate us!
Today Jesus has presented us with an invitation. He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
What a wonderful invitation! an invitation to be full forever. An invitation to be quenched forever.
In this country, we all go to weddings and birthday parties and we watch how some people leave the buffet table with their plates loaded with jollof and chicken, and…domedo…
I pray that all of us will take a cue from those people…load our plates with the Bread of Life…and find salvation. Amen.