Bread, the mundane staple food in almost every culture since the dawn of time. But thanks to a television commercial filmed in 1973, the uncut loaf has an almost romantic quality. It was filmed on a quintessentially English street in Shaftesbury now known affectionately as Hovis Hill. Bread is everywhere throughout history and not surprisingly the Bible is full of the doughy stuff too and appears a lot in the stories of Jesus. His miracles never took place in religious meetings but on the street, in someone’s house, or in this case up a mountain. This is the only one that is recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus climbs a steep hill with his disciples in tow. They arrive at the top and then realise a crowd, numbering several thousand has followed them and they’re all hungry. Jesus turns to his team and asks them a question “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” One of them says “6 months wages won’t buy enough bread for each one to have a crust”
One of the others then spots a young lad who, unlike the rest of this lot, has remembered to bring his packed lunch with him. Jesus says “Get everyone to sit down in groups of about 50” So how does that work then? No megaphones, no Facebook Page just a few thousand hungry people up a mountain and the equivalent of a few tuna sandwiches. But Jesus is in the middle of it and that’s the gamechanger. The compassion and power of Jesus begin to flow together and that meagre amount of food is multiplied into a world record breaking picnic. Once everyone has eaten their fill, the Jesus boys are instructed to collect the leftovers. The miracle on the mountain was actually a dramatic re-enactment of a previous event from way back in Bible history, you may have heard of it. 1,500 years earlier Moses had led the people of Israel into the wilderness where God provided bread that seemed to come from nowhere, every day for 40 years. Now a vast crowd is given unlimited bread once again. And Jesus seems to know their culture and their history.
Then it gets really interesting as Jesus describes himself as the bread. So now they’re all a bit confused. Is that the bread or are you the bread? What’s the bread? Who’s the bread?” As far as Jesus is concerned bread is a lot more than flour and water and there’s a lot more going on here than the all-you-can-eat buffet lunch. Jesus is about to dig deep into the age-old problem, our craving for something that meets our deepest need. We all need physical food to survive but to really live we need something greater. That’s the reason so many people are frantically searching for lasting satisfaction. A chemically induced high, a relational encounter or a shopping trip, they’re all attempts to fill the crater in the human heart. But Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who receives me hungers no more” Open your heart today and receive Jesus the Bread of Life, he’s only a prayer away. Maybe you believed all this as a child. Sometime we have to go back and pick up what we left behind.