Breaking the Bread of Life
If you have children... or grandchildren... nieces or nephews (maybe even kids who live next door... or kids who just run around in the neighborhood!), then you’ve heard the question: “Do you have anything to eat?”
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be kids...
Food is a central part of everything we do... not only here at church... but in life in general. Life tends to revolve around food. We gather with family and friends around tables, covered with food, during holidays and other special times (like birthdays and graduations).
We have lunch dates with co-workers and business partners, colleagues... We make dinner reservations at fancy restaurants to celebrate anniversaries. We communicate love and acceptance and relationships around food! It’s a universally accepted custom, I suppose...
Food is comforting... it’s calming... It helps us to relax and just be ourselves (most of the time).
Have you ever eaten because you were stressed or worried? Have you ever snacked yourself into a coma because you were having a good time... maybe at a ball game, or while watching a movie... or maybe just because there was a half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer? I know I have! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself eating when I wasn’t even hungry!
Food is comforting... and I think that’s why so many of the stories about Jesus, and particularly stories about Jesus’ resurrection, revolve around food, or involve food in some way.
In the town of Emmaus, after the resurrection, Luke’s Gospel tells us that Jesus “broke bread” with two disciples - he had dinner with two of his disciples - men he’d traveled with along the Road to Emmaus.
On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, John’s Gospel tells us that, post resurrection, Jesus told Simon Peter & and the other disciples to throw their nets over the other side of their boat... and when they did as Jesus said, their net was filled to overflow! When Peter realized what was going on, he jumped off the boat and into the water... and swam to shore, where he found Jesus waiting... sitting by a fire, a few fish already on the grill, saying, “Come and eat... have some breakfast!” (John 21: 12)
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 19... Jesus told Zacchaeus (as in Zacchaeus was a wee little man) to come down from the sycamore tree... because (as Jesus put it), “I must stay at your house today!” Jesus was basically inviting himself to dinner! And people began to grumble... saying, “Look, Jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner!”
In fact, one of the main complaints levied at Jesus by the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law, was that he “welcomed sinners and ate with them” (See Luke 15:2). They knew that “eating” with someone implies a relationship!
And the Good News is... Jesus is still in the business of inviting sinners to come, eat... break bread... get comfortable... to build a relationship... even today.
Of course, maybe the most famous “food story” of all centered around a young boy’s lunch. Jesus was there with thousands of people... hungry people... after a long day of teaching and preaching, and he turned to Philip and said, “What is there to eat? What do we have to feed all these people?”
It’s the same question... told and retold, time and again.
Everyone ate and was satisfied. Everyone’s eyes were opened and they could see it was Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God... in their presence!
Everyone seemed to “get it” - they seemed to understand who Jesus really was... when they broke bread together.
And not just physical, tangible, literal bread... that’s just part of the story!
When we gather, week in and week out, in this place... we gather around Christ’s table... and we break the “bread of life” - God’s Word. We feast on it... we live by it... our souls are nourished. As Jesus so adequately put it... “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
In our Lesson for today... Jesus appeared... the Resurrected Jesus... the same Jesus that the disciples had watched die with their own eyes (IF from a distance).
But Jesus’ appearance frightened the disciples... they though they were seeing ghost! So Jesus reached out his hands, pointing out his wounds... encouraging all the disciples (not just Thomas) to “touch and see” - after all, the fact of the matter is, ghosts don’t have flesh and bones!
And then Jesus asked that question: “Do you have anything here to eat?” And as they ate together, and as they talked and shared, the disciples’ minds were opened... and they understood.
We can relate to a God like this: a Risen Lord who comforts us... who engages us... who builds a relationship with us... right where we are... helping us to understand who He is, and Whose we are.
As Jesus feeds us... by his Word... we’re filled to overflowing... our eyes are opened, and we grow in our faith and understanding. That understanding then naturally compels us to go and share with others... to “eat with sinners” - and to tell the old, old story... of Jesus and his love.
We’ve gathered here today... to hear Words of Life... to break the Bread of Life... and to literally share a meal around the tables of fellowship.
We’re with friends... family... our family of faith. And Jesus is here, too. He’s revealing himself to us... and sending us out to tell others the news, to tell others the story, to offer the Name of Jesus to everyone we meet.
So when we’re asked, “Do you have anything here to eat?” We can say, “Yes... come... gather around the table with us... taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed!