LCN Article
The Bread of Eternal Life

March / April 2014

Dexter B. Wakefield

Each year, as we approach Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, we engage in a very important activity. Leaven pictures sin for us (1 Corinthians 5:6–8), so we put leaven out of our homes. As we do so, we examine our lives for spiritual leaven that needs to be repented of and removed. After Passover and during the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, we avoid eating leavened bread and keep our homes free of it. We make a point to eat unleavened bread each day, and in doing so, we remind ourselves of coming out of sin, staying out of sin and feeding on that perfect unleavened bread which is Christ Himself. He is The Bread of Eternal Life!unleavened bread

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give 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.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always’” (John 6:32–34).

After sunset on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, we will begin eating leavened products again—perhaps a sandwich, donuts, biscuits or pizza. We probably missed those leavened products and, to a certain extent, will enjoy going back to our regular diets. But the unleavened bread of eternal life is something we should eat every day of our lives. It is “meat in due season” to learn about the nature of that Bread, so we will never fail to eat of it during the coming year.

This Bread is so important that God prefigured it in ancient Israel. “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness… Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily’” (Exodus 16:2–5).

In this manner, God reestablished the Day of Preparation and the weekly Sabbath for Israel—both of which they had lost in Egypt—just as most of us had done in our own spiritual Egypt. Notice that God said, “...whether they will walk in My law or not.” The Days of Unleavened Bread picture putting out sin—the transgression of God’s law—from our lives—which means to “walk in My Law.” The Eternal used the bread from heaven to test Israel—particularly in what they were to gather in preparation for the Sabbath.

Notice that Israel was to gather manna six days, but to eat it seven days. The Sabbath pictures the millennial rule of Christ, and we are in a season of preparation for the great millennial Sabbath to come. We are at the end of the sixth millennial day—a millennial Friday, so to speak—and the sun is low on the horizon and ready to set. The millennial Sabbath is about to begin!

God could have said simply, “Day after tomorrow is Sabbath” but He gave Israel six days to gather and one to eat the double portion gathered on Preparation Day. Why? It is because we have a lesson to learn from the way that God instructed Israel. Manna prefigured the Bread of Eternal Life that was to come.

Very Important Instructions

In John 6, Christ described the importance of the “spiritual food” which was symbolized during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread:“‘Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (v. 27).

Although there were those who did not at first understand, Christ stressed this important concept: Therefore they said to Him, ‘What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give 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.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst...” (vv. 30–35).

These words were too much for some to accept: “The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’ And they said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven?’” (vv. 41–42).

Though it offended many, Christ instructed His disciples in regard to this concept, which was of the most vital importance to receiving eternal life: “‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’ The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.’ These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum” (vv. 47–59).

We are to feed on this bread that comes to us from the Father. Bread came down from heaven to feed ancient Israel, but having eaten it, they still died as all flesh does. But the Bread that comes down from heaven for spiritual Israel, the Church of God, gives eternal life. How much more important it is for us to feed on that True Bread!

Why do we eat unleavened bread for seven days? After gathering for six days—with twice as much on the sixth—Israel had sufficient manna for seven days. God commanded them to do this to test them and to establish them in Preparation Day and the Sabbath. During the Days of Unleavened Bread, we eat the symbol of the True Bread for seven days—picturing a complete millennial week. Keep in mind the biblical principle “…that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). We are to eat the True Bread our whole lives. The Last Day of Unleavened Bread pictures in this sense, the millennial rule of Christ. Israel—a physical nation—ate the physical manna (which came from heaven) and they all died in the wilderness (except for faithful Joshua and Caleb). We eat the True Bread that came down from heaven, and even though we die in this age, we will live forever!

So, as we approach Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, it is important that we should learn about that Bread and the eternal life it brings.

The Father Gives It

In John 6:32–33Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give 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.” Then in verse 45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ [fed the Bread of Life] Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (see also v. 65).

The Father Wants to Give It

Jesus illustrated this for us, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).Speaking of the Church, Jesus said: “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:8–11). This spiritual food is something that the Father very much wants us to feed on.

The idea that someone would offer a hungry person a stone to eat may seem unlikely, but it actually happened to Christ when Satan tempted him. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread’” (Matthew 4:1–3).

Jesus knew that it is His Father who provides. “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”’” (v. 4).

God’s word nourishes, but Satan’s word—often expressed in the popular culture of this world—is about as nourishing as a stone.

The scripture in Deuteronomy that Jesus quoted to Satan becomes even more interesting because God presented it in the context of the Days of Unleavened Bread. “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord [who is the Bread of Life]” (Deuteronomy 8:1–4).

That word is the Bread of Life. This is one reason why Mr. Meredith so often exhorts us, “Feed on Christ!” This powerful theme is repeated over and over throughout the Bible.

How Does the Father Give It?

The Father gives it to us through Christ, the apostles and the ministry.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat” (Revelation 2:17). The “hidden manna” is doubtless a reference to the Bread of Life that we eat, but which the world does not see.finger pointing at bible scripture

Jesus gave Peter an instruction which he relayed to the ministry of the Church:“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep’” (John 21:15–17).

With what was he to feed them? The Bread of Life!

Peter later passed these instructions on to the ministry: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:2–4, KJV).

As our Passover, He is also the Bread of Life that we remember especially in this season—but that we need to remember throughout the year. We need to feed on that perfect Bread daily. The Father will feed us daily on the Bread of Life if we will only eat. In the Psalms we read, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me” (Psalm 81:10–11). Do we fail to allow God to feed us?

What happens when we fast for a day or two? We become physically weaker from lack of food and water. Think of prayer as spiritual water and Bible study as spiritual food. What happens if we fail to pray and study God’s word for a few days? We become spiritually weaker. Do not become a spiritual anorexic!

What is the Nature of this Eternal Life that the Bread of Life Gives?

This spiritual Bread gives life like no other food can give. God said that “He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26) and we are to have bodies like His, having inherent life. What does that mean? It is hard to comprehend, but God’s word gives us an indication: we are to be transformed to be like Christ Himself!

The Apostle John explained, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!Therefore the world does not know us,because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.... Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He [Christ, our Passover] was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin [He is the Unleavened Bread of Life]. Whoever abides in Him does not sin [remains unleavened]” (1 John 3:1–6).

The Apostle Paul adds, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).

The scriptures show that the bread of life that we eat today makes it possible for us to have eternal life—inherent life—at Jesus’ coming. He tells us that “we shall be like Him” in His glory. Jesus said in John 17:22 “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.” This great gift comes at the beginning of the millennium that the Last Day of Unleavened Bread promises in type.

 So we can see why God is so concerned with us staying spiritually unleavened and constantly feeding on the Bread of life that He gives us in Jesus Christ.

Are we studying, meditating, praying and fasting? Do we lead repentant lives and continue to put spiritual leaven out of our lives throughout the year? Do we “feed on Christ” daily as Dr. Roderick C. Meredith consistently reminds us to do? What is your daily bread? Is it the world’s popular culture—spiritual rocks? Or do we eat the Bread of Life daily throughout the year?

Christ asks us today the same question that He asked Peter: “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’” (John 6:67–68).

Let us always answer as the disciples did… “Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always’” (v. 34).