By Melissa McLaughlin

The Joy of Bread

With all the diet fads out there, one diet I always try to avoid is the no-carb diet. Why? I love bread! You see, I have fond memories of bread. Growing up, I was blessed to be raised on my mom’s homemade bread. Not made with a bread machine, mind you, but real, old-fashioned bread made from scratch with flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water. I remember Mom tackling the gigantic blob of unwieldy dough, kneading with all her strength, then tearing it into small chunks to place in bread pans to rise. We watched it magically grow, then giggled as my mom poked the dough back down with her finger. Eventually, the loaves of bread were popped in the oven. The aroma of bread baking is simply heaven! When the bread was finally done, we would bite into the fresh, soft, warm bread, savoring every crumb. In recent years, my dad has taken up bread baking and has even developed his own unique recipe for oatmeal bread. Slightly sweet, with a robust flavor and chewy texture. A piece of his bread, toasted and buttered is another divine experience!

Given my fondness for bread, I am fascinated by the way Jesus repeatedly used references to bread in His teaching.

Spiritual Nourishment

At the beginning of His ministry, when He was tested in the wilderness, Jesus said, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

In another passage Jesus is called “The Word.”- And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Certainly, as soon as Jesus enters the scene, we begin to see our desperate and daily need for His nourishment.

To further elaborate this concept, in John chapter 6, Jesus builds up to a challenging teaching where He claims to be our spiritual bread. The chapter begins with, none other than…bread! Jesus feeds the five thousand using a small boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish. John 6:1-15

This miraculous story is followed immediately by another powerful miracle, Jesus walking on water. John 6:16-21

The crowd who ate of Jesus’ miraculous bread the previous day, eagerly followed Him to the other side of the lake where Jesus and His disciples had arrived by boat after the miracle of walking on water. Jesus perceived that crowds were following Him primarily because of their physical needs. In short, they wanted more free bread. But, Jesus wanted to offer something much deeper. Jesus wanted to meet their greatest need, a need that far exceeded their physical hunger. Jesus wanted to satisfy their spiritual hunger.

To help the people move from an understanding of their need for physical bread to an awareness of their soul need for Him, their spiritual bread, Jesus compared Himself to the manna given by God to the Israelite people in the wilderness. John 6:32-33  John 6:48-50

To bring His point home and underscore that He was referring to the spiritual, not the physical, Jesus clarified, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” John 6:63a. Jesus stated and restated that He is the spiritual bread of heaven and only by partaking of Him, through faith, can we live forever. John 6:35  John 6:51

After hearing Jesus teach about their spiritual need for Him, those who were only interested in Jesus providing for their physical needs soon left and no longer followed him. Many people left. John 6:66

My heart aches for Jesus as I read these words. I imagine Him standing there while people mumble, roll their eyes, turn away and walk off. Lots of people. I don’t know what must have hurt more – knowing that people only followed Him to get a free lunch or watching great numbers walk away when He explained the He was the real bread, the eternal bread of heaven, the Savior. Still, my heart aches for Jesus every time I read these words.

The story continues as Jesus turns to His twelve disciples and asks, “Do you want to go away as well?” John 6:67

Simon Peter’s answer continues to echo in our hearts today, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69

When we come to the end of ourselves, when we come to the end of lives, where else can we go?

Food is no longer enough. Our jobs are no longer enough. Our accomplishments, our accumulations, our family, our friends are no longer enough. On that day when we take our final breath, just as with every breath we take on this day, we have a deep need that goes far beyond our physical needs. We stand as beggars with a soul hunger that cannot be satisfied with anything but Jesus Christ, the only One who can reconcile us to God and bring us to heaven forever. Jesus is our real bread, our spiritual bread, our soul nourishment. Where else can we go?

When the last note of funeral music fades in the air

The goodbyes gently given

The casket quietly closed

It is finished

Where do we go for the words of life?


When the diagnosis is grim

Darkness grows darker still

Treatments are temporary

The pain worsens

Where do we go for the words of life?


When the door shuts behind you for the very last time

The memories packed up

The desk is cleared

The job slips away

Where do we go for the words of life?


When the violence escalates

The hatred intensifies

Tempers flare

Guns fire

Where do we go for the words of life?


When the storm clouds rage

The rains slash against you

The winds push and pull

The floodwaters rise

Where do we go for the words of life?

Our souls long for real nourishment that can only be found in Christ. May we remember where Jesus began.

John 1:1 –  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Matthew 4:4 – But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

John 6:15 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

John 6:35 – 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.”

May we also remember this prophecy from years long past, as we stand in this moment in time, so close to Jesus’ return,

Amos 8:11 – “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

May we hunger and thirst for the true bread of heaven, the Word of God recorded in the pages of the Bible, the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.

Got bread?


Additional Resources:

Collecting – It’s Life or Death! By Melissa McLaughlin

When Everything Falls Apart – 7 Strategies to Get You Through By Melissa McLaughlin