When I enter the Kingdom, I’ll be expecting a “welcome” buffet table with a dazzling array of all of the tempting and decadent foods we’re not supposed to be eating now. Every sumptuous dessert that I ever avoided for fear of clogging my arteries would be waiting for me as a reward. (Oh, look! There’s the Ten Layer Chocolate Death on a Plate that I always wanted to try! You saved a piece for me? Thank you, Lord!) Even if this fantasy never materializes, there is just one humble request for Kingdom food that I have for my merciful Lord: Please let it be cut into bite size pieces.
As a mom of three hungry youngsters, I am constantly cutting food. Since nearly everything is a choking hazard, I am slicing, dicing, peeling, and chopping until my hands ache worse than an arthritic lumberjack on a rainy morning. Something as simple as bringing home a pizza turns into an Olympic event of how quickly I can divide twelve slices of pizza into one hundred pieces small enough to feed the island of Lilliputians . Naturally, I am drawn to the biblical record of Jesus feeding five thousand men, plus women and children.
(19) And he [Jesus] directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
(20) They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
(21) The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Some miraculous events occurred in this record, including the fact that Jesus was able to feed over five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. But what about the fact that twelve basketfuls were left over–already broken into bite size pieces?! Please send them to my house!
Jesus used food figuratively on many occasions, trying to hammer home his point with a concept that all humans could understand. After feeding crowds of over 5,000 (above), and 4,000 (Matt. 15:29-38), he must have been dismayed at his disciples’ lack of understanding when he told them to be on their guard “against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). Apparently thinking that Jesus wouldn’t notice, they formed a team huddle on the boat, during which they asked, “Who forgot to bring the sandwiches?”
(7) They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
(8) Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?
(9) Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?
(10) Or the seven loaves for four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?
(11) How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
(12) Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Jesus’ yeast analogy did “sink in,” but not into their brains; it ricocheted off their heads and right out of the boat, sinking into the wet abyss. Perhaps they had inherited this from their ancestors, who were equally clueless when it came to food.
When the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, they complained about the food and drink on several occasions. God graciously set up the very first continental breakfast, although instead of stale doughnuts and coffee, it was manna, also known as “the grain of heaven” and “the bread of angels” (Ps.78:24-25). Were the Israelites thankful? Nooooo. They complained about not eating meat. In a scene reminiscent of a parent (okay, me) reacting to petulant children whining about lima beans at the dinner table, God had endured enough:
(18) “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it.
(19) You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days,
(20) but for a whole month–until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it–because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”
I’ve seen people have milk come out of their nose, but quail? With so much whining and complaining from His children, it’s no wonder God set up Jesus as our perpetual bread. In John 6:35, Jesus referred to himself as “the bread of life.” He then declared that whoever comes to him will never hunger or thirst. This concept is intriguing to me, as some days it seems like I have just finished feeding my kids breakfast, and it is already time to get ready for lunch. Lunch barely passes and it’s time to prepare dinner. The process never ends, even when I want to say, “What? I just fed you yesterday–that’s not enough?” Through Jesus Christ, God gave us exactly what we needed to be fulfilled. We never have to ask to see the menu again.
The children of Israel were only to gather the amount of manna that they needed on a daily basis. At our house, that would be a huge adjustment. We shop at retail warehouse stores, where we pay an annual membership fee for the privilege of buying, among other things, a colossal vat of mayonnaise that is too big to even store in the garage. In Jesus’ example of prayer, he told his disciples to ask, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). We are not supposed to get born again, store up the goods, and walk away. How is it that we can perfunctorily eat our Fruit Loops for breakfast without a second thought, but forget to consume our spiritual food that is available through our Lord? Jesus is the daily bread that we need in order to be fulfilled each day. I have discovered that the bigger our appetite for him, the more he will fill us.
When our kids are going through a growth spurt, they eat us out of hearth and home, sending us on yet another trip to that warehouse store for more tubs of food that won’t fit in our cupboards. Just when I’m wondering if one of my boys has a tapeworm or why he looks like he’s wearing elf clothes, I realize that six months have passed and he has grown yet again. Likewise, when we grow or mature spiritually, we “feed” more off of our bread of life, Jesus Christ. I didn’t understand how to have a closer relationship with him until I decided to just ask him, and guess what? He answered. I don’t know what I had been waiting for; he had already sent me an invitation. Now I feel like I might be able to survive if I had to skip breakfast, but not if I had to miss my time with my Lord!
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
When I was a child, a popular joke was “You are what you eat!” The timing had to be perfect, of course, such as when someone was about to bite into a wiener or meatball. (Yes, we were so witty in those days.) Now I see that there is some truth to that saying, for we are spiritually what we “eat” from the Word of God.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
At the last supper, Jesus broke the bread and said,
1 Corinthians 11:24b-26
(24) …”This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
(25) In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
(26) For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Jesus is our daily bread during our time on this earth, but some day we will be eating our meals with him in his kingdom. Can you picture yourself dining with Jesus, like the apostles in the legendary da Vinci painting of The Last Supper ? What will it be like to fellowship and break bread with our Lord? I don’t even care what he’s serving…as long as it’s in bite size pieces, of course.
 In Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Lilliput is a fictional island where everyone is less than six inches tall. (Published by Benjamin Motte, 1726).
 A fifteenth century painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519).