Monday, November 14, 2011


Lately in the Look at Jesus course that Christianne has been teaching, we've been talking about the metaphors that Jesus used to describe himself in the book of John.  As I pondered some of them the other night, the one that particularly caught me was his description of himself as the "Bread of Life."

Bread is an image that immediately evoked a sensory response.  Smells and tastes and memories sprang to mind.

I thought of standing in the basement of the student centre at the university and smelling the aroma of baking bread emerging from one of the sandwich shops and wafting to fill the corridors.

I thought about the experiences I've had this last year as I've worked with yeast doughs for the first time - not making bread yet, but learning what it is to work with yeast, and to knead and work dough.

And I thought about all the different breads I've eaten.  The various loaves available here in Canada - loaves with seeds and grains.  Crispy french bread spread with a layer of butter.  All sorts, really.

And I thought about the bread I ate in Malta.  Maltese bread is something pretty special.  It comes in round loaves, and is dense, with a hard, crispy crust.  It was a staple of nearly every meal I ate during my time there, and I think my particular favorite way to eat it was spread with butter and jam.  So good.  I've never found anything quite like it here in Canada.

So Jesus reminds me that he is bread, and I think about the different kinds of bread - the ones that melt in my mouth, and the ones like Maltese bread that require a bit more chewing, a bit more work.  He reminds me that He is bread, and I think of what I know of history - how bread has always been a staple of survival, how it is central to so many middle-eastern, european and western cuisines, how it was bread that the devil suggested Jesus form from stones during the temptation in the wilderness.     I think about yeast and how carefully it must be handled to ensure it multiplies, and about kneading dough, repetitive, hard work if ever there was such a thing.

I think about these things and ponder how they are true of my relationship with Jesus - how there are things about him that are easy to swallow and absorb, and things that require much mulling, chewing, wrestling to absorb.  I think about times I have fasted, and how the one thing I wanted more than anything was bread, spread with butter, how it was an immense temptation to smell those things.  I'm pondering the realities of yeast - how it must be carefully cultivated for it to multiply and grow, and then how it must be kneaded into dough, mixed and turned until it is spread and absorbed.  How true is it that I must carefully cultivate Christ in my life, and turn and mix His words until they are absorbed within me and grow new sprouts of life and healing.

It's quite some time since I've been so struck by an image of Christ, but this one, this one of Him as bread - as sustenance, basic sustenance, though not always the easiest form of sustenance to absorb - this is an image that has captured my heart the last few days, and one that I am meditating on as I look at the days ahead.

And you - is there something that the image of Jesus as the Bread of Life evokes for you?  Or is there perhaps another image of Christ that is standing out for you at the moment?  I'd love to hear!


christianne said...

Absolutely beautiful, Lisa. And if you don't mind, I'm going to share this post on our discussion board forum so that everyone in the course can enjoy your reflection here!


Lisa said...

Thanks Christianne - and yes, absolutely go ahead and share it :)

terri said...

I'm so glad Christianne shared this with us so I could discover your blog. I've been so struck with the comment you posted on the metaphors. The way you fleshed them out was so helpful for me. And this...this meditation on bread. So lovely and rich. Thank you Lisa.

kirsten said...

Bah! Blogger ate and spit out my first attempt at commenting. Let's try this again ...

I love the thoughts you share on Jesus as bread: the fragrant aroma, the work of spreading yeast throughout the dough when it is made, the different types and textures -- some easier and some softer to digest. Basic sustenance. A staple of life in almost any country of the world you go to.

The way he refers to himself as Living Bread is particularly powerful for me -- considering everything you articulated so beautifully here and imagining that the thing we take in and chew and digest as alive -- giving us His life, sustaining us, energizing us, giving our bodies and muscles and cells the energy they need to function and work and move. What we are taking in is, in fact, His life.

Thank you so much for writing this. You've taught me to love this image in a new and deeper way.

grace & peace,
+ kirsten

Merissa said...

Lisa, thanks for writing this. So good. I am also thinking about this image now. It seems kinda vague sometimes to think of Jesus as the bread of life, but this post is helping me think it through a bit more. I love bread. I love this image that Jesus uses. It's just so real.

Lisa said...

Terri - welcome here :) I'm still so struck by the vitality of all of those metaphors, and may have to write about more of them in this space.

Kirsten - living bread indeed! And I love the idea of bread as a staple in nearly every culture.

Merissa - glad these thoughts are helping you. Can't wait to catch up when you're back and hear all about your internship!