The Bread Diet

All of my adult life, I have been waiting for the Bread Diet to arrive.  Forget carb-free diets, liquid diets, protein shakes – here is a diet worth living for:  The Bread Diet.  Every day, just eat your daily bread. Whole wheat buns, warm pitas, seasoned flatbread, here we come!  A daily fresh loaf would be a most pleasant regiment to embrace. Nutritionists tell me it is an impossible dream. I am not so sure.

My love of bread began some four decades ago, when I was seven years old.  My family of seven had traveled by car down the Queen’s Highway from Sault Ste. Marie to Kingston for vacation. We spent a exciting day at historic Fort Henry, replete with scarlet-clad infantry, cannon blasts, and a fully workable fort.  In one quadrant, fresh homemade bread, butter and honey was available for purchase by tourists who happened by when the hot bread was pulled from the stone oven by the soldiers in the kitchen.  

Later that day, Dad took us to the top of a grassy tree-laden park overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Mom laid out a blanket and the seven of us hungrily sat down and ate a feast of warm homemade brown bread spread with fresh butter and thick coated with chin-dripping honey.  
Even today, when I smell fresh bread pulled from the oven, I remember those blue skies, the choppy waters and the joy of warm thick crusted bread, with enough for seconds!, on that hill long ago, our hungry bellies deeply satisfied.

Bread is a big-time theme in the Bible.  When Jesus had the crowds sit down on that grassy hill to feed the thousands, moms, dads and kids could easily have told you about the days when manna rained from heaven in the wilderness for forty years, or explain about the Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrating the miraculous exodus of the Jews as slaves from Egypt. Can you just imagine the shock, when a few days later, after Jesus had generously fed thousands fresh bread and fish from a small boy’s offering, hearing Him state:

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world (John 6:32-33, NJKV)

Hold on, Jesus is the bread of life? He’s giving what as the main ingredient?  His flesh?

To understand the impact of this Bread, let me tell you an ancient story.  In the Old Testament book of Judges, there were tough times for Israel.   Unfortunately, like many nations today, war didn’t end after a few years.  The nation of Israel looked like a whipped mangy dog cowering for cover by the time Gideon encountered an Angel of God when he was threshing flour in the winepress, calling to save his people. Here was Gideon’s reality:

Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. ( Judges 6:2-6, NIV)

Think of the orphaned children, weary women and broken men from media coverage of Sudan, Syria, or Egypt today. Demoralized, broken, afraid, angry, victimized – that was Israel until Gideon assembled 300 men to take on countless warring nations at God’s command.  As he camped close to the enemy, Gideon suddenly lost heart and cried out to God for one more sign that He was with them. God told Gideon to head to the enemy camp:

So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”( Judges 7:11b-15, NIV)

Gideon destroyed the enemy camp that evening. With this talk of bread, I just can’t get the idea out of my head that maybe this loaf of lowly barley bread which tumbled into the enemy’s camp, struck and turned over the tents is a perfect description of Jesus Christ. This seeming innocuous man came from heaven, embraced humanity in an eternal hug and overturned death with complete finality.  What looked like a brutal ending of crucifixion upon a cross was in fact an amazing beginning as the resurrected Jesus appeared and established a love revolution based on new life through him.  Apostle Paul championed this truth to the early church, crying “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(1 Corinthians 15: 55-57)

Like that lowly loaf of bread, Jesus tumbles into our broken lives and crushes an enemy we could never overcome without Him.  So back to the Bread Diet.  Jesus, perhaps knowing the human need for bread, or perhaps recalling those ancient days in the desert when daily miraculous manna kept the nation literally alive, or maybe remembering that fierce contest when He was challenged by Satan to turn stones into bread, or maybe just because Father said – for all these reasons and more, Jesus told us to pray to our Father in heaven: Give us this day our daily bread (Luke 11:3). 

God planned this Bread for a very long time.

Thousands of years earlier, God inspired a psalmist to write a song sung for Passover, celebrating Israel’s deliverance from death by the blood of a spotless lamb. Hear God’s cry:

“Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now? Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies, give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs, never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey.” (Psalm 81:11-16, MSG)

Sounds like my feast with my family, delicious fresh baked bread spread with butter and honey.  Hundreds of years later, Jesus cries:

Just as the living Father sent me <span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BO)”>and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. (John 6:57-58 NIV)

O Father, this day, give us Your Bread, that we may live forever. Amen.

Welcome to the Bread Diet.