[King Herod] called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” Matthew 2:4-6
Bethlehem, the birthplace of king David becomes the birthplace of the Christ, Israel's promised king and shepherd. When the reigning king, Herod, receives confirmation of the Messiah's birth, he seeks to harm the vulnerable, humble child of Bethlehem. An angelic warning sends Mary and Joseph fleeing from Bethlehem to Egypt as refugees until word of the dubious king's death brings them back to Israel and the city of Nazareth. From here, the one born in the “house of bread” grows up under the care of his earthly parents until he is ready to go out into the world, offer himself, and feed hungry souls.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” John 6:32-34
Intrigued by the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the crowd desires to perform the works of God, too. Instead, Jesus calls them to believe. Still the crowd demands a miraculous sign, after all, even Moses gave them bread in the wilderness. Yet, unbeknownst to them, bread from heaven has already descended again from the Father's hand in the form of his Son, Jesus; the true bread from heaven. The bread that gives life to the world. “Give us that bread,” the crowd demands. And so Jesus does.
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
From the “house of bread” to the Last Supper and beyond the true bread from heaven gives life to those who receive. As we remember the babe born in Bethlehem this holiday season, let's venture out into the world, offer ourselves, and generously share the bread of life with a hungry world.
Wishing you joy and peace, always.
Stuart & Wendy Brown