“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
“They need not depart; give ye them to eat.” Mark 6: 35-44. March 2012.
In this study, we will be looking up the word “bread” and apply its meaning across the biblical narrative. The word itself appears in scripture at least 360 times, beginning in the Garden when God told the man that “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Genesis 3: 19. The word is also used as “unleavened bread” and is used throughout the New Testament and ends in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. This being the case, I want to begin by offering a well known hymn that we sang in divine worship back home in my little country village. I still enjoy singing this song because of the spiritual realities that can be gleaned from the lyrics.
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim thru this barren land; I am weak, but thou art mighty; Hold me with Thy powerful hand. *Chorus: Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more; Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain, Whence the healing waters flow; Let the fiery, cloudy pillar, Lead me all my journey thru. Chorus: Strong Deliverer, Be Thou still my strength and shield. X1.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, Bid my anxious fears subside; Bear me through the swelling current, Land me safe on Canaan’s side. Chorus: Songs of praises I will ever give to Thee. X1.
What we aim to do in this study, is to revisit the scenes where Jesus taught and fed the multitudes, and fast-forward the realities that he demonstrated to the time in which we live. My former presiding bishop, preaching a Sunday morning sermon in the City of Baltimore, Maryland, remarked that it was time for us to “update Paul, because when he laid his pen down, he did not intend for that to be the end of the bible.”
He said, “I would like to speak to you today, from the 29th chapter of the Book of the Acts.” The congregation rustled and shuffled their bible pages then looked up to the preacher in wonderment. He asked, “Can’t you find it?” The sanctuary replied NO. He said, “In that case we are going to write it.” My Friend, even as I pen these words many years later I feel like breaking out in a little dance around my computer key board. Come on! These are truths that pick us up by our boot string and set us in high places in Jesus Christ. Let us go back to the scene where Jesus and his disciples had gone all day. He preached and taught the people until it drew close to day’s end. “And when the day was far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.” Mark 6: 35-37. This miracle is generally referred to as “feeding five thousand with two barley loaves and two fishes.”
As a matter of practice we routinely read this account lightly and pass on to other subjects; or we spend some time teaching it to our Sunday school class. However, when we settle down and pay more attention on the scripture texts in the light of projected truths, we begin to understand the true relevance of what occurred that evening out in what must have been the foothills of the Jordanian desert.
Since the word “bread” is used in scripture at least three hundred and sixty times, it stands to reason that to focus on each usage of the word in meaning and purpose; we would be involved in a gigantic volume of materials that would be too burdensome to write or to read. One of the most meaningful use of bread in scripture is Abram’s meeting with Melchizedek, king of Salem as we read: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” Genesis 14: 18,19. The second in importance was Abraham’s meeting with three men who were passersby. Upon inviting the three men to come in and wash their feet (an outstanding practice of hospitality in those days) Abraham rushed in to Sarah who was in the inner tent and said; “Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he dressed it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.” Genesis 18: 6-8. It was during the time of this meeting that the Lord promised that he would return this time next year; and Sarah would conceive and bring forth a son whose name was to be called Isaac.
Another time that greeting and being hospitable to strangers came into focus with far reaching significance was the angel of the Lord appearance to Manoah. “And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah though detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer iot unto the Lord. For Manoah knew not that he was an engel of the Lord. So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame on the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it and fell on their faces to the ground.” Judges 13: 16, 19-20.
Let us examine another real life example when real food and real hunger came into play, and notice how God turned a simple meal into a momentous miracle. Elijah had made mockery of the followers of Baal and completely discomfited them. But sadly enough, soon after this overwhelming victory that came with fire from heaven, the prophet fled for his life from a simple little woman named Jezebel. He found himself a juniper tree and there he prayed to die. “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, Lord, take away my life; for it am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. Ah! But Elijah, this is not a picnic table on the edge of a lake we are talking about! Now certainly is not the time to go back to sleep!
And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise, and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” 1st Kings 19: 4-8.
This brings to remembrance the fact that the night before Israel departed Egypt as they instituted the Passover, the blood of the lamb was daubed upon the door posts; but they were given instruction to eat the flesh of the lamb. The blood of the lamb served as salvation from sin in us today, and the flesh symbolized salvation of our bodies. It was so significant that Israel went into the desert and for forty years their feet did not swell and their raiment did not wax old. Many of you reading this have had many years experience walking with God, and I am sure you can recall times when your soul lingered in what can be called “The Twilight Zone” of uncertainly and even anxiety. Then along came times of great outpouring of the Spirit that ministered to you like saturating showers of rain; but before long you began to understand that those blessings were only meant to strengthen you for the arduous tasks and rocky path ahead. Can you imagine sitting down to eat a meal that would be able to sustain you for the next forty days? But as we are well aware of, the number forty bespeaks of trials and the ultimate testing in the fire of God’s love. Bread in its most basic form refers to food to our lips and meat to our stomach; but Jesus applied a greater meaning and a greater reality to the word. When Jesus came into the coasts of Type and Sidon, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. Of course, Jesus answered her not a word. Not willing to take no for an answer, she went to the disciples, who in turn complained to Jesus, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. Finally, the woman came to Jesus and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet (not right) to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs. Matthew 15: 21-26. First, we are told that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. In this setting the bread referred to by Jesus Christ is healing; or to reverse the phrase; “healing is the children’s bread.” It is outlined in the gospels that as Jesus fed the multitudes with bread and fish, the masses grew bigger and bigger; and in some of my sermons I refer to these as “bread and fish Christians.” Perhaps in truth, what the Master was busy teaching was of little concern to these people, providing there was a good supply of bread and fish. But as demonstrated by Christ himself, he had bread that they knew not of and they marveled at this concept.
We learn that Jesus on his travels came to Samaria and “Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (Twelve noon) After his encounter with what is termed “The woman at the well” knowing that the Master was tired and hungry, the disciples offered Jesus food, but Jesus answered, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4: 5-33.
As the eyes of our understanding continues to open wider and wider, and our perception becomes more acute, we begin to see that bread and meat mean healing, and in doing the will of God to its completion in us. Jesus became so involved and caught up in his conversation with the woman at the well, that his physical body forgot that it needed food; to the point that when the disciples offered Christ food which was now lunch time, the Lord’s appetite had shifted from natural food, to the spiritual gratification to be found in doing the will of the Father who had sent him.
Royce O. Kennedy