Bread in the Bible

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What is the significance of bread in the Bible?

Bread was part of every meal. There are numerous illustrations and references to bread. Paul talks about leavening the whole batch of dough (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). The prophets use illustrations of bread as well. It was a very familiar, every day item every Israelite understood.

In my opinion, the most significant use of bread in the Bible transfers from the Old Testament into the New Testament. The Israelites complained that they had no food in the wilderness. God supernaturally provided a white, flaky substance that resembled snow called manna. It most resembled bread.

It fell from heaven like dew in the morning and the people collected it once a day. On the day before the Sabbath, they collected enough for two days so they did not work on the Sabbath. The most amazing part: for 40 years in the wilderness God provided this Manna from heaven without fail. He is provider and sustainer!

Forever afterward, manna was the symbol of God’s provision for Israel. They even put a jar of it in the Ark of the Covenant. The New Testament further enhances the humble staple of bread. In the Gospel of John, Jesus has an extended debate with the religious leaders of Israel about manna.

Jesus contends with the Jews that Moses was not there provider. God provided a manna from heaven (John 6:32). Then he states that the bread of God is not a thing, but the person who comes down from heaven (John 6:33). This is a reference to himself.

He follows by making it abundantly obvious, calling himself the “Bread of Life” after using the same name God uses for himself in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint – “I AM”) in John 6:35. After this, his comments become even more controversial to the Jews.

Just as God provided manna in the wilderness that came down from heaven, he also provided Jesus, his Son, who brings salvation to all who trust in him. God not only provided for the physical needs of Israel in the wilderness but for the spiritual needs of every human being on the planet.

Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray and one of the lines of the prayer is, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). I can’t help but think of Jesus as the Bread of Life and make the connection that he provides for all of my needs.

When I pray the Lord’s Prayer, and I reach the line about our daily bread, I always associate it with God’s provision. I pray first for my physical needs like food, shelter, and everything I need that day. But then I pray for my spiritual needs.

Everything I need, I find in Jesus. He is the ultimate fulfillment of my spiritual need. So I ask him for more of his Spirit and more of him. And I have never been in want.

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