Last week, I attended Seattle Presbytery meeting with 2 of our Elders and with Cindy, our Associate Pastor. Besides enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer day and a beautiful drive, we were welcomed warmly to the new facilities of North Point Presbyterian Church - a thriving, new Church Development in Poulsbo. They're doing great stuff in addition to their own programs of worship and nurture.
One of the programs they are involved with is serving lunches weekly on their front sidewalk for high school students attending High School across the street. This program I think is done in conjunction with Young Life. But it has become so popular that the last time it was held, a student was making announcements on the intercom and told the entire student body that particular day was "JESUS FOOD DAY."
As I begin to study and prepare sermons for our fall series on the Gospel of John I have been reminded particularly of Jesus' statement "I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE." It is a particularly relevant statement for him to make because he had just miraculously fed a crowd of 5,000 (I do not think that many Poulsbo High School kids eat "Jesus Food" at Northpoint PC on a weekly basis). Jesus then went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee for a little R & R when his sometimes pesky disciples came and found him and began peppering him with questions about how to do the works of God and what signs Jesus might give that would help them believe. One of them even brought up the miracle of the Manna in the wilderness that their forefather's had eaten everyday.
It is in this context that Jesus tells his disciples (followers, believers, insiders) that He is "THE BREAD OF LIFE" - the true "Jesus food." Anyone who comes to him will never go hungry and whoever believes will never again thirst."
Bread - what a powerful image that is. Yes, it seems like a bare subsistence food for those of us in the affluent West. Yet how many people would give anything just for a piece of stale bread to fill their distended stomachs? But Jesus repeated that imagery over and over (Give us this day our daily bread... & this bread is my body broken for you...do this in remembrance of me). Physical bread - metaphorically and literally - is so vital to life. Without food on a regular basis the body withers and dies.
Jesus' point is not to dismiss that reality. In fact I believe those who follow the "Bread of Life" are called to offer food and sustenance to the hungry of the world in his name. So it is never all right to say if we just tell people about Jesus then all their problems like hunger or homelessness, or injustice or poverty, will go away.
He fills us with spiritual nourishment that satisfies completely. In his name we are to offer our loaves and/or fishes to feed the hungry masses. In doing that we meet their real and present needs and we show the reality of our relationship to Jesus.
Symbolically we come to him and fill ourselves on that bread of life whenever we observe the Lord's Supper. I don't know about you, those little cubes of bread would never be enough to satisfy my physical hunger. However, Jesus the bread of life does satisfy my spiritual hungering for meaning, for purpose, for identity and for acceptance. In him my life is nourished. In turn, I am empowered to go out in service to others.
Have you had JESUS FOOD lately?