Bread and Its Spiritual Signficance

Updated on March 13, 2018
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks writes for HubPages and Blasting News. She loves sharing interesting information with people all over the world.

"Let's Break Bread Together"

Bread is not just a natural food to satisfy your natural body, but it is also a spiritual food that speaks to a person's spirit as well. It is a symbol in every religion because it is both a way of sustaining the body and a reminder of basic blessings.

Often, the word "bread" is used to be more than just a piece of bread. It includes the entire meal. How many times have someone said to you, "Let's break bread together"? Surely, the meal was not limited to just bread.

Bread: The Staff of Life

Bread is called the staff of life because it is the very basic food that supports life. When people can't get other foods, a small piece of bread will provide nourishment.

According to Loaves and Fishes, Joseph A. Grassi says, "To eat bread is to taste the very source of all bread and nourishment which is God Himself because it was God who created the earth, plants, and especially wheat as the staff of life."

Bread in the Old Testament

Most people know that the Israelites were fed manna in the wilderness because they were traveling and were unable to plant gardens. "Manna" is simple bread from heaven. As soon as they reached the promised land, the manna ceased because they became self-sufficient in one place and could build houses and plant their own crops.

In Deuteronomy 8:3, the scripture about bread has deep symbolism: "A person does not live by bread alone but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

The creative word that God spoke concerning bread makes all of life, bread, and nourishment possible. That's why it is so appropriate to say a blessing over the food you eat. That is to acknowledge that God is the ultimate source of the nourishment you are about to receive.

In the gospels, Jesus said grace and pronounced a blessing every time He fed the multitude a meal consisting of bread and fish. He did the same thing when He distributed the bread and wine to His disciples at the Last Supper.

Bread serves many purposes in the Bible that we should transfer to our daily life. In the Old Testament, covenants were made by the sharing of bread. Peace was also established by disagreeing parties who broke bread together.

In the book of Proverbs, God personified bread by inviting us to eat bread and drink wine at a special banquet. God says, "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed" (Proverbs 9:5). Jesus used these same two elements at the Last Supper with His disciples. Churches all over the world follow the same procedure when they celebrate the Lord's Supper, also known as Holy Communion.

"Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:5)

Bread in the Gospels

Bread is a primary theme in all four gospels. Matthew centers his discussion around Jesus being the giver of bread and on the nourishing role of Jesus' teachings, such as "Give us this day our daily bread" found in what we know today as the Lord's Prayer.

Mark establishes centrality by placing bread and its meaning not only in a long middle section of his gospel but also at the end. Mark taught that Jesus was bread for the whole world. Not only was Jesus the giver of bread, but Jesus was the bread Himself.

Luke, the only Gentile writer of the entire Bible, had something to say about bread. In fact, some people refer to his writing as the "gospel of bread." That's because he wrote so much about bread and its importance. He had a lot to say about bread throughout his gospel where Jesus is recognized in the breaking of bread with people. Jesus even ate with sinners and tax collectors where they broke bread together.

Luke carried the theme of breaking bread together over to his other book, The Acts of the Apostles." The gospel writer emphasizes the spiritual significance of bread along with its physical qualities.

John did not write a synoptic gospel. Instead, he wrote about the person of Jesus where Jesus is referred to by seven I am statements. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life in the gospel of John. He says those who love Him will eat His body and drink His blood.

John's gospel, like the other three gospels, points to a special meaning concerning bread. The disciple of Jesus treats bread as a source of nourishment for the whole world both physically and spiritually.

Breads Today

There are many types of breads today in the grocery stores. People also have been making their own bread for many years. In some household, especially in country homes, learning to make bread from scratch is a right of passage for young girls.

Bread comes in every shapes and sizes. There are breads for everyday eating and breads for special occasions. Since there are so many varieties of bread, no one should have a problem finding one that satisfies his needs at any time.

It is no wonder Oprah Winfrey says she loves bread in a Weight Watchers ad. She has so many to choose from.

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      • revmjm profile image
        Author

        Margaret Minnicks 2 months ago from Richmond, VA

        Oh, Tony, how I enjoyed reading your comments about eating and establishing contracts. You said a mouthful with your comments. I appreciate them.

      • Tony Muse profile image

        Tony Muse 2 months ago from Texas, USA

        You've done it now, you've gone and made me hungry!!! LOL

        On a serious note. Here is something that we westerners may not fully appreciate about sharing a meal. In ancient cultures, it was believed that if two people ate from the same food, then they were both being nourished from the same source. In this was they became as one and were in agreement with one another.

        Case in point: I used to work at a small computer shop. My boss desired to do start buying computer hardware from a vendor who was of Middle-Eastern descent. Before establishing a working business relationship, the vendor insisted that they meet in person. When they did, the vendor peeled and orange and handed half of it to my boss to eat. It was symbolic that they were in agreement of the term of the contract.

        In the old days, It was not fitting to share a meal with your enemies, but only with those that you were in harmony with. Jesus is the bread of life, and when take part in the Lord's supper, I believe that it is important that we keep that in mind.

        I enjoyed that article, blessings!

      • revmjm profile image
        Author

        Margaret Minnicks 2 months ago from Richmond, VA

        Thanks, Ralph, for your input about bread. Your comment was a very good one.

      • RJ Schwartz profile image

        Ralph Schwartz 2 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

        Prior to Christianity, the world celebrated the first harvest (grain) and the bread on Lammas each year. A successful harvest not only meant food for the winter, but provided seed to plant in the following year. It was critical for survival.

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