I'm Just a Beggar Who Found Bread
If you could pick one thing to eat for every day of your life and you wouldn't have to worry about it ruining your diet or your weight goals, what would it be? Mine would be bread. Bread all the time. Bread with butter. Bread for a sandwich. Bread dipped in sauce or olive oil. PB & J. I love bread. And, I love baking bread. It's so easy (albeit a little time-consuming), but nonetheless, fairly easy and very satisfying. I am 99.99999999999999 % certain, though I don't know for sure, that there will be bread in heaven. Just saying....
My husband and I are taking the membership class at church right now. In our class last week, Pastor mentioned this passing phrase as he discussed our purpose in the church, namely, to be living out the Gospel to the world in our place. "We are just beggars who have found bread." This phrase jumped out at me, and I confess I missed a bit of his following discussion because I had to write it down in my Bible.
When I looked this phrase up later, I discovered a man named D.T. Niles wrote this as he was discussing the purpose of Christianity: "Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread."
This phrase can be further explored as we look at the "I am" statements of Jesus in the book of John. "I am the Bread of Life" is found in John 6, following the miracle of feeding the 5,000. This story is beloved by many: Jesus taking the little boy's lunch, praying to the Father, breaking the bread in pieces, then the disciples passing out all the food, enough to feed everyone, plus leftovers!
But, how many times have I, in telling this story to my kids, forget the purpose of this story is to point to the real need- not that the people were hungry (which they were), but that they were in need of the eternal bread (Jesus Himself!) And, John shares with us this story, following the miracle, of other people who approached Jesus the same way I so often do: as "useful" but not "precious" (J. Piper).
After Jesus feeds the 5,000, he and his disciples go to Capernaum (read John 6:16-21 for the miracle of walking on the water). The crowd follows the disciples and Jesus across the sea to Capernaum. They were kind of stalking him, because when they find him, they said: "Rabbi, when did you come here?" (They had noticed the night before that Jesus had not initially gotten into the boat with the disciples...) Jesus says to them that they did not come to see him because of the signs he did but because he gave them bread (he was useful). He then tells them, "Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you" (John 6:27).
The people then start asking all these questions: "what can we do?"; "what work do you perform?" (this they followed up with recalling how God had provided manna in the wilderness.) "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:32-33).
The point in all these things is that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the answer to the miracles. He is the answer for how a small lunch can be turned into a feast. He is the answer for how he was not in the boat, but ended up on the other side. And, this is not just to mention physical provisions, but to declare the greater need, which is spiritual life.
Yet, the people were concerned about what they would do, what physical things would happen, about here and now.
And, are we not the same way? We ask God for blessings, to fix this or that, to help with this, and then, when that happens or doesn't happen, we move on to the next thing that seems satisfying. Or we just pull out the God stuff when it seems useful or appropriate.
But, the purpose of this "I Am" statement, as well as the other "I Am" statements is to hit us over the head with the reality that Jesus is LIFE.
Not just the momentary satisfaction of a piece of bread or a drink of water. No, he is eternal. And, his provisions surpass the momentary pleasure of something delicious. And, Jesus explains this, "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever" (John 6:57-58).
After he says this, the people begin grumbling about it. Jesus explains the words he has spoken are "spirit and life" (6:63). He further explains that no one can come to him (take of the bread) unless the Father grants it (6:65). Then, John explains that many of the disciples turned away and no longer followed Jesus.
Jesus then says to the twelve remaining disciples, "Do you want to go away as well?" And, Peter responds beautifully, saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (6:68).
Jesus is life. Following him is life. And, our life must consist of continually feeding on him, not just coming to him when its useful or convenient. And, how often do I live like the people who followed looking for a temporary fix, or grumbling about Jesus' answers to my problem I want solved now because I refuse to see my overarching need which is dependence on him.
Going back to the phrase, "We are simply beggars who have found bread".
How well are you sharing bread with others? Is your life pointing to a different sustenance? Do others notice your diet is different than theirs?
In thinking about these and challenging myself with this, I was convicted on these points:
Do I come to Jesus, remembering my state before him? (A beggar, with no hope, no life, no future)?
Does my life demonstrate a desire to share that life with others? Or am I selfishly keeping it to myself?
Does the way I present myself to others reflect that this Bread is better and more valuable than anything else? Or do I present Jesus as useful, convenient, there when needed?
Our lives should be lived in such a way that people will be drawn to the Life flowing from us. This. is. so. convicting.
I have found myself reading my Bible, doing the Christian things, but then when it comes to sharing Bread with others, I discover I am timid, embarrassed even...and why? O, God, forgive my selfish, fearful, faithless heart.
I HAVE FOUND LIFE!!!!
And, this is not to say that we be annoying people or banging them over the head with "Jesus", so to speak- but to say that we live life differently.
This means when the neighbor has a problem, we help. We make a meal. We speak into their lives with love that comes from Christ.
This means when there's a problem at work, instead of shrugging our shoulders and saying, "Well, I tried", and then giving up; we work harder; we ask for help; we be honest; and we help others.
This means when people are talking trash or inappropriately that we don't join in. Sure, we can have fun and enjoy teasing, but we are always careful to make sure our speech is encouraging and right.
This means when our kids are on our last nerve we ask God for help. We beg the Spirit to control our desires to get angry. We are honest with our kids and apologize and seek forgiveness and take of the Bread together in prayer and confession and praise.
This means when our spouse says "that thing" that hurts, instead of blowing up and firing back with our own comment, we respond in love. Not because we are some good person, but because we have Life within us.
And, this is why feeding on the Bread of Life everyday is so important.
Because, as the phrase goes, "You are what you eat". And, speaking from the Word, that would be read as: "Guard your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life." Or, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Or, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." Or, "Set your mind on things above not on things in the earth..."
And, how you eat of the Bread of Life will determine how your life looks. Just like we can't physically eat just junk food all the time, so our hearts and minds must not feed on "spiritual junk". Because when life hits hard, what you have been feeding your heart and mind will manifest itself.
Do your regularly remember you were just a beggar? And, does that open your eyes to see the beggars all around you?
Will you share the Bread with others? Or will you keep it to yourself?
Does your life demonstrate the "best diet"? Or, are you constantly looking for a more "useful" approach?
Will you feast on the Bread of Life daily? Or, will you gorge on the "junk food of the world"?
This is why we must remember. Remember the Savior. The Cost. The Life he gave for ours.
This is why we must feast. Confess. Study. Learn. Serve.
I would encourage you to listen to these songs I have shared below. May your spirit be renewed to feast on the Bread and to share the life you have been given with your fellow beggars. This is a message we dare not, must not, cannot keep to ourselves.