CHAPTER TWO
THE BREAD AND THE WINE: THEIR MEANING


THE BREAD

A symbol mostly gets its meaning and significance out of association. These associations are physical, mental, psychological, spiritual, social or cultural.

What are some of the associations with Bread?
 

2.1 OLD TESTAMENT IMPLICATIONS

To understand what Jesus meant by the ýBread of lifeţ we need to look into the Old Testament concept of bread. The symbolic representation of bread in the Old Testament arises in the context of the Shew bread, or the bread of Presence. This is referred in summary in Heb.9.2 and in detail in Lev.24.5-9 and Ex.25.30. In the holies, or in the court of the Assembly where the Israel gathered together for worship on the right hand side was a golden table on which were placed twelve bread pieces. Golden table represents the heavenly abodes where the unleavened bread is placed. Unleavened bread represents the sinless body. Thus Jesus presents himself as the Bread that came down from heaven. He is saying that He is God incarnate and sinless. There were twelve bread one for each tribe and were kept in two rows representing the Jews and the Gentiles, the whole mankind. Jesus came down for the whole mankind and for every tribe in the believers congregation. The priests were to eat it every week in a holy place and the bread were to be renewed.

Jesus is called the Word of God or the Living Word of God. The Scripture is the Written Word of God. Both are alike. Both are bread - food and drink for the body and spirit. The emphasis here is that for healthy living one should be continuously feeding on the Word of God in the light of the Holy Spirit to be ýcreated in Christ Jesus for good works.ţ (Eph.2.10), ýby being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mindţ (Phill.2. 2) as Jesus. Then we will be like Jesus.


The bread on the shew table was to be covered and interspersed with incense and necessarily eaten on the Sabbath day by the Levites and renewed every week. The clear indication is that the feeding on the Word must be accompanied by praise and worship and prayer (incense) and a congregational feeding of word must take place every week. The study of the Word of God must be new every week. This is the basis of Sunday services in the present day situation.

The next important symbolism of bread comes on the day of Pentecost. The details of the Pentecost is given in Ex. 34:21-22 ;Lev. 23.16-17. Pentecost took place on the 50th day after the waving of the first sheave of harvest (which represents the resurrection of Jesus). On that day two bread were placed on the table, one representing the Jews and the other representing the gentiles both to be made with leaven (representing the sinful man)

* Pentecost - That day leavened bread is placed on the shew bread tableinstead of the usual unleavened bread, and that only two of them. It symbolises mankind as a whole - both the Jews and the gentiles who are sinful - the leaven symbolizing sin. Thus bread in general symbolises life. Pentecost is the celebration of the law giving at mount Sinai. Moses brought down the tablets of law on that day. On that day 300 apostate Israelites who worshipped the golden calf died. The Sinaitic covenant was the new beginning for the world, when people all over the world were to live by the law and take the consequence of the sin that was committed. However it was a law based on mercy. In the presence of the holiness of God all sin brings death. But in the Sinaitic covenant, not all law breaking is punishable by death, because of the presence of the Priestly intercession and the sacrificial atonement built in the law. In this sense the the leavened bread symbolised the new redeemed life of mankind.

* In the land of Canaan the third day after the Pass over, the first day of the week , was the celebration of the harvest, when the first fruits of the harvests are brought to the temple as a wave offering. The first sheaves of the wheat were waved in front of the holy of holies. It represents new life and the promise of a full harvest in due course. The presentation of the two leavened loaves therefore symbolised manÝs hope and promise of redemption through Jesus. On that day Jesus roses again as a first fruit from the dead, and presented before God, as wave offering with the hope and promise of resurrection from the dead for all believers. This is the new beginning of the New creation man.

This is exactly what is promised in Jesus. After the 50th day of resurrection, on the day of Pentecost Holy Spirit came upon both the Jews and gentiles and the church, the beginning of the New Community of Man was born.

* Manna as bread Jn. 6.48-5

1John 6:48-58 I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, 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 real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

1 Cor. 10:4 refers to manna as supernatural food
 

2.2 NEW TESTAMENT IMPLICATIONS

2.21 Wheat Represents man:


Man was created out of the dust and so is wheat formed out of the dust. Though they are formed out of the dust there is a lot of difference between the dust, the soil and the minerals and the organic molecules that form the wheat substance and man. Both have life in them. That is why wheat is a food for man. The wheat body is transformed into the human body organism by assimilation. In the same way the Jesus, the word of God becomes life to the believer when assimilated and formed part of his daily living. The process of conversion of wheat into body follows the following process

wheat - ingestion-digestion-assimilation-body.

It is the same with the believer. Believer ingests the word of God and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Saviour. This transforms him totally and Jesus becomes part of his life. The more he ingests, more like Jesus he becomes. Each believer then becomes the wheat which produces the body of Christ within the church.A grain of wheat remains as it is if left alone. But if it falls down and dies it will yield much fruit. Other grains are formed, thus increasing the body . Herein lies the message of Cross and resurrection of Christ. There is no resurrection for the fallen man unless he dies and resurrected in newness of life. It regenerates itself Jn. 12.24
 

2.22 Bread represents Jesus and a Christian

As the wheat is ground to flour, Jesus suffered to give his life to many. So also every Christian life is expected to show this love which is self giving. It involves suffering. Flour is mixed with oil before it is baked. Oil in the Bible represents Holy Spirit and the oil of gladness. This is what makes selfish individuals to become a coherent body of Christ rejoicing together. Unleavened bread especially represents the lives lived without sin. This is the life of Jesus. It is then kneaded and flattened and scored producing perforations in the Hebrew traditional bread. Thus the bread that Jesus took in his hands very well represented his suffering.

Baking Bread in Pisac

Isa. 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The dough is to be kneaded and made into loaves, cakes and wafers and then baked in the oven, hearth or coals. Through the common suffering and experience, the individual believer becomes part of the Church the body of Christ. This bread is now ready for distribution . It is edible only when it is baked into a bread. Then it has to be broken to redistribute to individuals around to build other people. If it is eaten and digested it will give strength and vigor. So is Jesus. So is the Church. So the whole figure of bread is a beautiful symbol of Jesus and then also of believer and the Church. In receiving Jesus, believer becomes part of Jesus as a cell in the body of Christ. The church now takes the role of Jesus to bring life to the society where we live in.
 

John 6:48-58 I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, 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 real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
 

2.23 Jesus as the Word

John Chapter 6 is a discourse on the picture of Jesus as the bread. This is a very exhaustive treatment on the symbolism where he draws definite the meaning of the symbolism to its ultimate limits.
 

JOHN 6: 27-59

Jesus starts his discourse in the context of the feeding of the five thousand. He then proceeds to point out that even though the bread he provided was a physical bread, people ought to be looking towards him for the real food. The real food is that sustains life - the food that endures to eternal life. The bread is called the staff of life or the food that sustains life and help it grow. (Ezekiel 4:16; 5:16; 14:13) Even though Jesus refers to bread the symbolism is for both food and drink. ýI am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.ţ (Jn.6.35)
 

Here Jesus is presenting himself as the sustainer of life and not as the giver of life. In the Bible the life giver is the Spirit of God. So in defining himself as the bread, he implies his function in the Trinity. Food doesnÝt give life to the body, it only maintains it to be a healthy body so that it may function perfectly. The body - and I refer to the physical body - cannot function normally unless a man has Jesus within him. Without Jesus, the body decays and death will come. This is simply because without the power of the risen Jesus it is impossible to live a righteous life here and now. Our ability to live a normal healthy life is dependent on Jesus in our life. As James points out, ýThen desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is fully grown brings death.ţ (Ja. 1.15) Jesus is now talking about death. It is commonly told that death is to be understood as spiritual death or separation from God. Such an understanding has come from the western interpretation. But in the Semitic and Asiatic thought this distinction does not arise. Life is both spiritual and material and death is same in both cases. In both cases it is a splitting or destruction of man. Death is the result of sin. It is not antecedent to sin, but consequence of sin. So if death is to be conquered, sin must be defeated. Sin can be defeated only through Jesus. The ultimate salvation of mankind lies in Jesus, the bread of life.
 

Just as Jesus is represented as bread, since Jesus is the Word of God, the Word of God is also represented as bread. Just as we have to eat every day to get the strength and health for the day, we need to eat and drink from the word of God.
 

2.24 Bread is not life until ingested, digested and infused
 

All these implications are beautifully encapsulated in the liturgy of our church.

Liturgical declaration:

- wheat brought together from various places

- all those who labored in it, produced, worked kneaded, baked

We are part of everyone who ever lived and died from the beginning of creation. Every breath contains one molecule of air that was breathed by Adam and More of Jesus. They are changing us. We are changing the world. We are part of every creation, and every element of universe. We therefore have the vital role of rejuvenating the decaying me, my family, my community, my nation, my earth, my universe. The communion is a reminder of this tremendous responsibility of every Christian. This oneness of humanity, oneness of universe is regained in Resurrected Jesus
 

2.25 One New Man

Eph. 2:15-19 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household,

2.3 WINE

2.31 Excess as taboo

Drinking wine is forbidden to the consecrated -whether prophet, priest or King in the Old Testament.

Lev. 10:9 "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.

Num. 6:3 he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.

Prov. 31:4 "It is not for kings, O Lemuel-- not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,
 

Getting drunk with wine is strongly rebuked in the bible.

Prov. 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Prov. 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Prov. 23:20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat,

Prov. 23:30 Prov. 23:31

Prov. 31:6 Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish;

Proverbs we should remember is words of advise from the elders collected through the ages.

Deut. 32:33 Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.

Isa. 5:12 They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands.

Isa. 5:22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,

2.32 Fruit of the land

However wine is considered part of every sacrifice in the levitical ordinance. It is the fruit of the vine and signifies the earth and all its provisions, It is considered a sacrifice without the meat and always appended with the other offerings.

Lev. 23:13 together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil --an offering made to the LORD by fire, a pleasing aroma --and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine.

Num. 15:5 With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

Num. 15:7 and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

Num. 15:10 Also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. It will be an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

Num. 28:14 With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon during the year.

Even the tithe may be used to buy wine or other fermented drinks to rejoice before the Lord.

Deut. 14:26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.
 

2.33 Joy, praise and laughter
 

Wine in general symbolised a joyful heart, praise and joy and laughter. Eccl. 9:7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.

Eccl. 10:19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.

2Sam. 16:2 The king asked Ziba, "Why have you brought these?" Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the desert."

Ps. 104:15 wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

It represents a life filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a lot of similarity between the actions of the Holy Spirit and the actions of the wine. Both are intoxicating. In moderation wine still retains the ability to think as in the mind controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
 

Jesus' use of the wine and his symbolization of wine is based on this. So right from the beginning of his ministry, he emphasizes this fact. His offer is a fulness of life- not a regulated, sad, sorrowful regimen; but a free, joyful , exuberant life, which called abundant life. When Jesus speaks of sonship he emphasizes this freedom which is the key note of Paul's theology. Thus wine in the hands of Jesus symbolised new abundant life of freedom and joy. He started his public ministry by changing water into wine.

John 4:46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine.

So Jesus' announcement in the feast of weeks was taken from Isaiah.

Isa. 55:1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Finally his valedictory teaching was based on the theme of vine.

John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.