Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bread of the Presence/Face

“And Yeshua said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger…’” (John 6:35).  "I am the bread which came down from heaven…" (John 6:41). "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” (John 6:51).  
Yeshua has chosen to compare Himself and the Life that He gives to “bread”.  In last week’s article, “Bread of Heaven”, we noted that, Yeshua told His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood (see John 6:53).  Therefore, “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” (v. 51 emphasis added).  Later Yeshua clarified these ‘hard’ statements by saying that, "it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life (v. 63 emphasis added).  In other words, Yeshua, His words, His message, and even His person constitute the “bread”. 
Already Moshe, in the wilderness, made the declaration: "So He [Elohim] 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 YHVH” (Deuteronomy 8:3). But one would think that this kind of spiritual reality would have eluded the Israelites. As hungry and distraught newly released slaves, what would they have understood about “living by the Word”? Indeed, they did not appear to grasp that notion. Yeshua, however, quoted some of these very words, in reference to bread, immediately upon His encounter with the adversary at the start of His ministry (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). From then on the ‘bread imagery’ continued to be a central theme, as we have seen, during the rest of His time on earth.  He even taught His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our allotted portion of bread” (literal translation, based on Proverbs 30:8).
During the Passover meal Yeshua took the unleavened bread, broke it and said: “This is my body”.  He was reminding His disciples of what He had said to them previously, after the feeding of the five thousand.  Since they did not understand spiritual realities, He had to make His point very tangible.  Only after being filled with the Spirit of Elohim they grasped what Yeshua meant by “partaking of His body and blood/life”.
 After being immersed in the Spirit, these disciples had become the “one bread” and their communing with each other, as His body, was by “eating Spirit and drinking Life”, which each member provided.  Later on Paul wrote, “Now you are the body of Messiah…” (1 Corinthians 12:27), and a little earlier: “…The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Messiah?  For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).  Obviously, the apostle was not speaking of “flesh”, or anything of this creation. He was referring to Spirit and Life, the bread which came down from heaven.
Recalling the scene of the feeding of the five thousand, where Yeshua blessed the bread and then broke it and gave it out, we can rest assured that He will do the same with us.  Blessing us as the “bread” is not for us personally, but for the sake of others. Hence it says: “In whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).  
Nourishing each other in the body of Messiah with His love and all the other fruit of the spirit will cause the body to mature. But should this not be the case, there is a severe warning issued by Paul: “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.  For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).  This statement is not speaking about a wafer and a sip of wine.  It is telling us to recognize the mystery of Messiah’s Spirit in one another, as we are bound together by the Word. 
After Yeshua was glorified, He sent the Spirit of His Father in fulfillment of His (earlier) prayer: "…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:21-22).  In John 14:8 Philip addressed Yeshua and said to Him: "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us".  Yeshua responded to him with a question: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?” He then added: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father?’” (v. 9).  Yet in chapter 1 of the Gospel of John it says that, “No one has seen [the face of] Elohim at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (v 18). In saying what He did to Philip, Yeshua was therefore declaring that He was/is the very manifestation of His Father.
As believers who have received the Spirit of Elohim, we too have become united with the Father and His Son, Who are the “one bread”.  This brings to mind another bread, the “bread of the presence” - lechem hapanim - literally “bread of the face”, which was in the Holy Place (in the Mishkan and the Temple).  And even though Elohim said to Moses, “…My face shall not be seen…" (Exodus 33:23), in partaking of Yeshua (His life), we, the twelve loaves of Leviticus 24:5, are the very bread of Elohim’s presence, or the “face of Elohim”. Quite a staggering reality! What’s more, as Yeshua’s body we have within us the treasure of His presence in our earthen vessels: “For it is the Elohim who commanded light to shine out of darkness [in creation], who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim in the face of Messiah Yeshua” (2 Corinthians, 4:6 emphasis added).Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). 

Interestingly, even after Yeshua’s resurrection He continued to remind His disciples of His legacy and their calling, by feeding them with “bread”.  Shortly after His resurrection, two of the disciples were on their way to Emmaus when they suddenly noticed a man walking alongside them.  It was only after He broke the bread and blessed it, when they were sitting around the table, that they recognized Him. In their report, “about the things that had happened on the road”, they emphasized “… how He was known to them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35).  Yeshua will also make Himself known through us when we become His blessed and broken bread.  Another episode that took place after the resurrection was upon Yeshua’s arrival to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There He prepared a meal for the hungry fishermen. “Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread…  Yeshua then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish” (John 21:9 and 13).   I wouldn’t doubt that this took place right where it all started – when the five thousand were fed…  

No comments: