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Running the Race

August 10, 2018

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6: 51)

Like the Scripture texts from last week, bread plays an important role in this week’s texts as well.[1] Bread is mentioned 361 times in the King James version of the Bible. Bread was the basic sustenance of life in Biblical times, and also played an important part in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread” in Hebrew. He said “ I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35). The feeding of the 5,000 and other miracles and examples of Jesus’ hospitality involved bread.

Bread is a key component of the Last Supper and of the Lord’s Prayer. It is a symbol of how Jesus will take care of our needs. Homemade, fresh bread is not only tasty, but it contains the key nutrients to sustain life. It satisfies our hunger. It nourishes, sustains us and fills us as Jesus fills us when we come to Him, when we give Him our burdens and ask for His forgiveness. Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51).

When Elijah was running for his life and became too tired to go on, he begged God to take his life “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19: 4b). But God had other plans for him. He fed him bread and water that sustained him for the next 40 days and nights: “All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat. He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights, until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19: 5-8).

Have you ever been so tired, that life seemed futile? Have you ever been to a place when giving up sounded like the best plan? That’s where Elijah was at that moment. He had been running ahead of Ahab, who was in his chariot! Elijah outran Ahab’s chariot for 17 miles to Jezreel (“The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel” (1 Kings 19: 46). But when he got to Beersheba, he just wanted to give up, and he prayed to God to let him go—to take his life. The “angel of the Lord” who came to him twice to give him sustenance to carry on was none other than the pre-incarnate Christ. It was Jesus, the bread of life, who spurred Elijah on without additional food, to travel another 200 miles to meet God on Mt. Horeb—where God had given the law to Moses. After being fed by the pre-incarnate Christ, he fasted for 40 days and found God.

Sometimes it is when we are at our weakest that we are rescued and find God. That was the case with David as well, when he had nowhere to go, and found himself at his enemy’s gate. The pre-incarnate Christ, the angel of the Lord also rescued him: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34: 7-8).

Paul, like Elijah, was sent by God into the world to work in his kingdom—just as you and I have been called. Paul encourages us to put aside our old lives and to take on the attitude of Christ—the bread of life: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 22-23).

Jesus, the bread of life, is calling you. He is calling you to run the race. He is calling you to get ahead of your enemies. He is calling you to go the extra mile. He is calling you to reach out beyond your comfort zone. He, who is the bread of life, will give you sustenance for the journey. He will give you what you need to get you to where he wants you to go. You can count on it. Answer the call.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan








[1] The Scripture texts for Sunday are 1 Kings 19:1-8; Psalm 34: 1-8; Ephesians 4: 17-5:2; John 6: 35-51.

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