Loving Jesus in a Gluten-Free World

John 6:35-51

In John 6, Jesus causes a scandal by claiming to be the bread of life. The word bread itself is problematic today; many people are on gluten-free or low carb diets. This leads to three sticking points around Jesus and bread. What can we choose as a substitute? I picture saying, "I am the coffee of life," because I have a hard time going a day without caffiene. My wife feels the same way about diet coke. But, in the simpler times of the Bible, bread was an essential ingredient of daily life. When the family gathered at the end of a long day, they broke bread and used it like a spoon to scoop up the lentils or soup of the day. An evening meal could not be consumed without bread. This bread was made fresh each day.  Jesus' prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," expresses our most basic needs. Bread is simple, foundational, and can be broken into peices and shared.

Jesus says many things when he says, "I am the Bread of Life." We break bread, both at the communion table and at our homes mindful of:

  1. The fact that Jesus not a fad. He is not like the latest diet, that one can take up for for a few weeks and then go on to something else. He is essential, like bread.
  2. By doing the miracle where he provided bread to feed a multitude, Jesus was inviting comparisons between himself and Moses. Where Moses brought the law, Jesus brought life and salvation. Where Moses led people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land, Jesus brings people out of bondage to sin and into the Kingdom of God. 
  3. Jesus scandalized the religious leaders by saying, "eat my flesh, like bread, and you shall live forever." This sounded like an invitation to cannibalism. It made it easier for the scholars to dismiss Jesus. But the common people understood what he meant. He became for them, he bread of life.

A three point message could be arranged as follows:

  1. Jesus is meant, like bread, to be a daily and essential component of our lives.
  2. By both his teachings and actions, Jesus leads us to participate in the Kingdom of God.
  3. It is easy to dismiss Jesus. It is easy to leave him burried in the past. When he is part of our daily lives, he becomes like bread.
Traditional Navajo home, bread is made each day in ovens
Pentecost 14