Bread of Life

Bread of Life

Last week, Stan reminded us of God’s covenant to which He is always faithful to uphold.  God always does His part, but we aren’t anywhere near as trustworthy.  We often choose to go our own way and do what we think is best instead; we sin. 

Stan also reminded us of the truth of how our individual sin doesn’t only affect us, but that it affects all of us as a spiritual body and family.  The whole body suffers. 

1 Corinthians 12:26

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

On the flip side, when we are faithful to God, we are blessed, others are blessed through us, and future generations are blessed as well!  A father’s sin may follow his children to the third or fourth generation, but a father’s blessing to a thousand generations (Exodus 20)!

We’re going to begin this morning right where we left off last week where Paul was dealing with sexual immorality within the church in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch – as you really are.

This is much of what our new life in Christ is – getting rid of our old selves and becoming who Christ says that we are.

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame.

This is great, but simple, straight-forward, and life-saving advice!

Do not be mislead.

Bad company corrupts good character.

Come back to your senses.

Stop sinning!

So, if you remember nothing else from the whole rest of this message, remember this simple advice.  Stop sinning!  🙂

Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into what Paul was referring to with festivals and batches of dough and yeast.  For that, we’re going to recall communion that we shared last week and go back to its origins.  In fact, we’re picking up right where God had us two weeks ago.  Right when God was delivering His people from 430 years of slavery.

On that very night, the Lord, Himself went through Egypt at midnight and killed every firstborn son.  If anyone placed the blood of a year-old lamb on the door frames of their home, God passed over that house and spared them.  They were to sacrifice the lamb at twilight and roast it for their meal along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

All of this was to be done quickly because that very night was moving night for them!

It was this same Passover feast that Jesus and His disciples were celebrating at the last supper on the night that He was betrayed. 

Jesus was the lamb and His blood was soon to be poured out over the cross.  He became the sacrifice so that we might be passed over by death and truly live.

God said:

Exodus 12:14-20; 31-34; 39

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.

39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

Now if you’re like me, you have understood the whole Passover/Communion prophetic representation and fulfillment in Christ.  However, it was not only the lamb that was a prophetic symbol to Christ, the bread was as well!

Imagine having to pack up and move your entire household with just hours’ notice in the middle of the night.  Imagine all of the logistical nightmares that you’d face moving not only your household items and the Egyptian plunder, but also keeping your livestock and family together in the middle of the night travelling alongside of hundreds of thousands of others on foot and by cart.  600,000 men besides women and children and livestock.

Why did God choose to record such detail about their bread dough?  Would that really have been Israel’s primary concern in this move?  Their bread dough?  God recorded it because of the powerful prophetic symbolism that it represented!

The people were hurried and did not plan ahead on their way up out of Egypt and so they placed their unleavened dough in a trough wrapped in cloth.

Luke 2:1-7 (TPT)

1-2 During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus,  ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. (Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time.) 3 Everyone had to travel to the hometown of their family to complete the mandatory census. 4-5 So Joseph and his wife, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth.

6-7 When they arrived in Bethlehem,  Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the newborn baby in cloth, and Mary and Joseph laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village.

Joseph and Mary were hurried and did not plan ahead on their way up to Bethlehem and so they placed newborn Jesus in a trough wrapped in cloth.  Just like the first Passover meal! 

Maybe you caught that already or maybe it’s something new that you never caught before like me, but it’s God’s revelation for us this morning either way.

Jesus confirmed this prophetic representation as He declared, “I am the bread of life.”

What do we hunger for in life, though?  Do we crave Jesus, the bread of life?

Do we hunger for the blessings or the Blesser? 

Do we hunger for the gifts or the Gift Giver?

Do we hunger for miracles or the Miracle Worker?

Do we hunger for sin or for holiness?

John 6:24-42

(Just after feeding the 5,000)

24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Here we find yet another prophetic representation.  The manna, a type of bread, from heaven also represented Jesus’ birth!

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Jesus is the bread of life!  Do we hunger for Him?  Do we crave Him?  Or do we grumble?

Now, what about Paul’s warning about yeast and leavened bread? 

Well, yeast has been around for just about as long as we can find in history and used for making bread and alcoholic drinks and it still is to this very day.  Yeast is a tiny little microscopic fungus that eats sugar and water and excretes carbon dioxide and ethanol.

It is an asexual organism which means that it just divides itself to create a new yeast cell.

When you look at two lumps of fresh dough, you can’t tell which is has yeast (is leavened) and which does not (unleavened).  However, after some time, one of those lumps of dough will begin to physically rise.  Yeast multiplies and travels all through the dough.

All of those open cavities that make fresh-baked bread so awesome are the result of the yeast producing carbon dioxide.

Like Paul said, just a little yeast works its way through a whole batch of dough.

Now, let’s flash back to last week where we heard about God punishing Israel for the sin of one person.  It seems totally and completely unfair that others had to suffer because of one person’s sin.  I still can’t say that I disagree, but God was showing the reality that there is no such thing as hidden or personal sin.  It affects everybody just like yeast within dough.

Matthew 16:5-12

(Just after feeding 4,000)

5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Sin doesn’t start with behavior.  Sin starts as a thought, an idea, a philosophy, an attitude, a teaching believed to be right. 

Just like the dough, you can’t really tell at first that the yeast, the sin, is even there.  However, when that sin eventually bears fruit, it will be evident to everyone.

To stop sin in our lives, we have to start with our minds and reprogram it with bread, living bread, the word of God revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. 

Mana was miraculously provided 6 days a week to teach us that we do not live on bread alone, but on every word of God. 

Deuteronomy 8:3

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Jesus is the Living Word of God!  Kill that yeast, cut that sinful stuff out!  If you don’t get rid of it, it will spread all through your life and bear the fruit of death instead of life!

James 1:13-18

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Through Jesus, the bread of life, we have been born again!  Born not of yeasty sin, but born of unleavened Spirit. 

While we are reaching out to the lost so that they might also come to know Jesus as their savior, be careful not to let their sinful yeast contaminate your new life!

This warning is easy and understandable.  However, Paul wasn’t warning about unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 5.  He was warning about those who claimed to be believers, but spreading false teachings using the word of God within the church.

Let’s finish the chapter that we began with:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Expelling people who refuse to repent of their sin may seem like a harsh and unfair practice within the body of Jesus Christ.  However, it is in hopes that such a drastic measure with help those caught in sin’s deceit will come to their senses and get rid of that yeasty sin in their lives. 

If it is allowed to continue, then it will spread like a cancer and eventually kill the whole body.  Our flesh will say, “Well, if it’s OK for them to do that, then it’s OK for me to do this.”. Instead of living by God’s word that leads to life, we’ll live by human comparison that leads down slippery slopes to death. 

This is just the unfortunate nature of sin and why yeast is used as a symbol for it throughout the Bible.

Don’t let anyone, ANYONE, contaminate you and lead you away from Christ while you are passionately running in pursuit of Him!

Galatians 5:7-10

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.

This morning, let’s ask and allow the Holy Spirit to search our lives and to show us any sin in our lives that we have accepted and embraced.  Any sin that we have not asked forgiveness for and repented of. 

As He reveals these things to us, and we ALL have them, just ask His forgiveness and choose to turn away from it.  Put whatever measures in place that you need to in order to keep the yeast out and the Unleavened Bread of Life in. 

Ask for more of a hunger and craving for more of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and the things of His Kingdom than for that sin.  Whatever our desire is that we keep satisfying with sin that leads to death, there is something in God’s Kingdom that will satisfy it that leads to life! 

Let the passionate pursuit begin!  As Paul said it: Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch – as you really are.  Pure bread!