August in the Philippines, especially in Western Visayas, is called “tigkiriwi” or “cringe time.” Usually the economic situation during this month is a great challenge because the sugarcane milling season has not yet started; rice harvest is also not yet around. Most savings were already spent during the start of the school year.
In the midst of our financial difficulties, Jesus is telling us, “I am the bread of life.” In John 6, Jesus likenedd himself to a bread: v.32 “true bread from heaven”; v.33 “bread of God”; v.35 “bread of life”; v.50 “bread that comes down from heaven”.
Let me share three things on why Jesus used “bread” as a symbol.
First, Jesus as “The Bread of Life” means that in Jesus there is freedom.
What is the relationship of bread and freedom? Exodus 12:17 says, “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread because it was on this day that the Lord brought you out from Egypt.” For the Jews that heard the words of Jesus, they would associate “bread” with freedom. God saved them from slavery in Egypt. The tenth plague that God sent as the Angel of Death. This angel passed over the houses of the Jews because they painted the blood of the lamb in their doorposts. Hence, the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is celebrated for seven days is a celebration of freedom. During those seven days, the Passover is also celebrated.
Secondly, Jesus as “The Bread of Life” means that in Jesus there is satisfaction.
One of the miracles of Jesus was the one labelled as the “feeding of the five thousand.” This miracle was recorded in the four Gospels. Matthew actually estimates the attendance as more than 5,000 since the counting excluded women and children. John also highlighted the story with a boy who went to Jesus with five small barley loaves and two small fish. The description of the bread as “small barley” implies that the boy comes from a poor family (since during that time only the rich can afford a wheat bread). What happened after that was a miracle. Everybody was fed, and there was an excess of 12 baskets.
The point here is that God wants us to share what little we have. Let us not wait to become rich to start sharing. We may be poor and have only a few resources, but when we offer it to God, God will do wonders with it. The reminder of the excess of 12 baskets is that the resources of this wold are enough for all of us if we just share what we have.
Thirdly, Jesus as “The Bread of Life” means that in Jesus we have a companion.
The lesson of the Parable of the Great Feast is that Jesus invites all of us in the table. In that table we have Jesus as our companion. This is the same in the “Lord’s Supper” or Communion. We are in one table, and we are all brothers and sisters.
Jesus as the Bread of Life is our freedom, satisfaction and constant companion.
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Office of Communications
Central Philippine University