This is post 2 of 2 in the series “THE MOST ... WORD"
- The Most Useful Word In The Bible
- The Most Popular Word In The Bible
The Most Popular Word In The Bible
It may surprise you to know that the word “bread” is what may be termed the most popular word in the Bible. I went to my Bible concordance recently to research this and I found some fascinating things. For example: I discovered that the word “bread” is mentioned in the Bible 361 times; 280 of those references are in the Old Testament; in the New Testament the word “bread” appears 81 times—and 62 of those references are found in the four Gospels. I also discovered that there are some twenty occasions recorded in the Gospels where Jesus Himself actually participated in a meal where we are told that He sat down and broke bread with others—and some of His greatest teachings flowed out of those experiences. And then, please don’t miss this: do you remember what Jesus was criticized for most of all? For eating with common people; for breaking bread with the ordinary people of the street; for sharing meals with lepers, outcasts, lame people, blind people, tax collectors, and the like. Furthermore, I need to remind you that many of His parables had to do with meal time experiences. Then there is this: Please don’t forget where He was born—in Bethlehem which literally means “The House of Bread.” Yes, no question about it, bread plays a highly significant role in the sacred imaginary of the Bible. In fact, Jesus even went so far as to say of Himself, “I am the Bread of Life.” What a great title for Him especially when you understand what an important symbol bread is in the Bible.
Bread, in the Bible, is a symbol of forgiveness.
In New Testament times, when people became estranged or alienated from one another and then there was a reconciliation, the joy of the reconciliation was celebrated and sealed by the breaking of bread together. Look, for example, at what happened when Jesus reclaimed the sinful Zaccheus for the kingdom—they went to have lunch together. Or look at the parable of the prodigal son. When the son returned home from his selfish sojourn in the far country, the father ran to meet him, to forgive him, to restore him, to bring him back into the family circle again. The father cried, “This, my son, was lost and now he is found.” Then the father called for a giant meal of celebration. It was clearly a feast of forgiveness. And so in the Scriptures, bread is the symbol of forgiveness.
And Bread, in the Bible, is the symbol of compassion.
In Jesus’ parable of the last judgment, the people are divided—some on the left, some on the right; some receive a great blessing, some miss out. Why? The distance between them was not so great, but their destinies were poles apart. Jesus explained that the difference in destinies was caused by one thing—the act of compassion; reaching out to help the needy, reaching out to feed the hungry—that was all that separated them. Just one little thing, but that one little thing has eternal consequences. And so it is clear in the Bible that bread is a powerful symbol of compassion.
And then Bread, in the Bible, is the symbol of revelation.
Now the word “revelation” can be intimidating to some people. It’s probably because the last book in our Bible bears the name Revelation and that book is mysterious and difficult to understand. Actually the word “revelation” is very simple in its meaning. It means to make clear, to reveal, to communicate, to broadcast, to announce, to unveil, to inform. The French call it the “voila!” experience. The cartoonist depicts it by drawing a light bulb flashing over someone’s head. The people of the street would call it “the truth that hit me right between the eyes.” It’s what happens that leads us to say, “Ah ha! Now I see.”
Do you remember the story in Luke 24? It was Easter afternoon and two of the disciples were walking down the road to Emmaus in complete despair. They knew about the crucifixion—they had seen it with their own eyes. They didn’t know yet about the resurrection—the word had not reached them. And so they were trudging along, defeated, dejected, downcast, disillusioned. Suddenly someone appeared and began walking beside them. It was actually the risen Lord, but they did not immediately recognize Him. The Lord, noting their disconsolate expressions, asked them, “Why are you so sad?” They replied, “Why, haven’t you heard the news how they crucified Jesus? We had hoped He was the one to save us but now they’ve killed Him. It’s all over. He’s gone and our hope is gone with Him.” A bit later, the three of them stopped to share the evening meal. They sat down together at the table. As Jesus picked up the bread and broke it, we are told that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. It was the symbol of revelation.
Now, let me ask you something. Would you like to have more forgiveness in your life? Would you like to have more compassion in your life? Would you like to have more of Christ in your life? Well, come to the Lord’s Table today and here let us break bread together in His Name …