Bread of Presence, Bread of Life—Part 1

Post image for Bread of Presence, Bread of Life—Part 1

by Denise Marie Siino on May 16, 2015

I know a lot of people who are struggling financially right now.  They say the recession is lifting but it hasn’t lifted for my friends, or truth be told, for me.  Or maybe I should say for the entities I write for.  As a freelance writer I depend on businesses, newspapers and magazines with money in their budgets to pay writers to provide content.

So lately I have been searching the Gospels for Jesus’ words about God’s provision.  There’s quite a bit there, but despite the musical Godspell’s perky rendition of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 6 and Luke 12:

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 
and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like 
one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, 
and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, 
O you of little faith?
“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him 
a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If you then, 
being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will 
your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
“For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all 
these things shall be added to you.”

…I have trouble applying these verses to my everyday life.  What do they mean, really?

This past week I came across the story of Jesus and His disciples picking wheat on the Sabbath (Matthew 12, Mark 2 and Luke 6).  Without realizing its application to my meditation on God’s provision, I looked up the Old Testament context on which this Gospel story is based, 1 Samuel 21.  Briefly, it goes like this.  David, running from King Saul who wants to kill him, enters the tabernacle that was at that moment in the town of Nob.  He’s not looking for sanctuary but for bread, as he and his men are gut-twistingly hungry.  But there is no bread, the priest responds, except for the holy Showbread.

This Showbread was mandated by God back in Leviticus 24.  Each of the 12 tribes of Israel was to bake a loaf of bread – 12 loaves total – to be placed on a table inside the tabernacle where the people could see it as a visual object lesson and representation of God’s presence among them.  New loaves were to be set out every Sabbath to replace the old ones, which were then given to the priests (by God’s mandate) to eat…another object lesson to illustrate God’s promise to provide for the basic needs of the priests whose living kept them inside the tabernacle of God.

Back to the story in 1 Samuel, after questioning David about his and his men’s “cleanliness” (their obedience to God’s laws regarding sexuality), the priest gave to David the old Showbread (the bread that had been replaced with fresh loaves the previous Sabbath), still considered holy and consecrated for the priests’ meals.  Besides the ramifications of David taking holy bread, what is not told, but certain seems to be implied in this story, is that somehow those 12 loaves of Showbread were able to fill the bellies of hundreds of hungry men.

As I read this Old Testament story, several images came to mind: manna dropping down from heaven to feed the Hebrew people in the wilderness; the widow who fed Elijah, whose flour and oil never ran out; Jesus feeding huge crowds from tiny portions of bread and fish.  As I thought of these miracles, Jesus’ own words came flooding to mind: “I am the Bread of Life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Confusion filled my brain.  When taken side-by-side with Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, the Bible stories of God’s provision and the picture of the Showbread, what does Jesus’ reference to himself as the Bread of Life mean for me?  For today?  As my family struggles to make ends meet?

Yes Lord, I prayed, but these words refer to spiritual life, don’t they?

Immediately, shockingly, a response came fully formed to my mind, a rare occurrence, what I call a God-thought:  “Do you really think I would not take care of you?”

Whoa…I am indeed in the presence of a holy and mighty God.

Bookmark and Share


And God Said: Listen Up!

March 27, 2015
Thumbnail image for And God Said: Listen Up!

Every year at Lent I pray about what I need to do, not do, give up or take on.  Of course a person can do a bit of soul-searching any time of year, but given Lent’s significance in Church history, there is something special about participating with other Christians around the world, past and present, […]

Read the full article →

Standing for Christ

February 23, 2015
Thumbnail image for Standing for Christ

I listened with great sadness to last week’s news about the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS in Libya.  While I have not tracked all of the “public” murders ISIS has performed in the past, it seems that – besides punishment for unpaid ransoms – they often target journalists and unsuspecting aid workers, and […]

Read the full article →

Farewell to General Don Crowley

January 28, 2015
Thumbnail image for Farewell to General Don Crowley

If you have been following my blog for any length of time then you know I write about people who have impacted my life and recently died.  Don Crowley (1932-2015) is one of these individuals. I met Don, a retired Army chaplain (who achieved the rank of colonel with the Army and brigadier general with […]

Read the full article →

Those Wise Guys – Finale

January 15, 2015
Thumbnail image for Those Wise Guys – Finale

As I watched the wise men head for home in my imaginative musings, I was left with a handful of questions to ponder.  If the Jewish spiritual leaders were aware of the wise men’s search of the child born King of the Jews – in other words, the Jewish Messiah – why did they not […]

Read the full article →

Those Wise Guys – Part 4

January 13, 2015
Thumbnail image for Those Wise Guys – Part 4

Have you ever faced a situation where you had been rehearsing what you would say, only to find that when the time came, your speech fell flat on the floor?  This is what I imagine (as I participate in this scene from my rocking chair) happened to the wise men when they finally came face […]

Read the full article →

Those Wise Guys – Part 3

January 12, 2015
Thumbnail image for Those Wise Guys – Part 3

The landscape deepened into tones of gray as the wise men on their camels, their entourage in their midst, lumbered along the western road.  Knowing that their journey was almost over, the men were anxious to reach their goal—the home of the One born King of the Jews. A crowd of curious onlookers that had […]

Read the full article →