O Come, Bread of Life
Open Your Bible
Exodus 16:1-12, Matthew 26:26-29, John 6:22-40, John 6:56-58
Growing up, my brother had a pair of chopsticks reserved specifically for taking bread out of the toaster. I can see him now, socked feet on wooden floors and chopsticks in hand, waiting for the ding! and pop! of the toaster, signaling that our cinnamon raisin bread, a favorite snack, was ready.
More often than not, and probably against the advice of any nutritionist, bread bookended our days: toaster waffles in the morning before school and cinnamon raisin bread late at night. That toasted bread—whether store-bought or handmade—symbolized routine, everyday life, a time when the days were busy and long, yet simple.
Have you ever made bread of your own, kneading your hopes and hurts into dough that promises to rise? Because that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Assurance that all our hard work will force our dough to rise and take shape—that our own best efforts will bring us the reward of comfort, provision and sustenance.
But in life, that’s God’s job: to provide for His people. Yet after He’d brought the Israelites safely out of Egypt and generations of slavery, they’d forgotten His provision. As they wandered in the wilderness, they grumbled with hunger and doubt, angry with Moses, who’d helped lead them there. They needed to be reminded that it was God who had saved them and chosen them as His own people. He started by meeting their physical hunger, promising to “rain bread from heaven,” so they would “know that it was the LORD who brought [them] out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 16:4,6).
In the Gospel of John, Jesus calls Himself “the bread of life” (John 6:35), drawing a connection to the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness, and promising that those who turn to Him will never be hungry again. He tells the people Moses didn’t give the Israelites bread from heaven, but the Father gives “true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (vv.32–33).
Jesus came to us so we could begin to understand who He is and how, for those who trust Him, He promises eternal provision. He is always present with His people, familiar and constant and good. He provided manna for the Israelites to remind them that He is their daily sustainer; He’s ours too. We can depend on Him for nourishment and for our very lives.
During this Advent season, when we anticipate the celebration marking the arrival of the Christ child, may we remember that God knew exactly what would satisfy our sin, so He sent Himself. He alone quenches our thirst and satisfies our hunger pangs, sustaining us through both ordinary and extraordinary days.
O come, Christ, our Sustainer.
O come, Jesus, our Bread of Life.
O come, o come, Emmanuel.
For you have come, and will rise again.