As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. Acts 27:33-38 ESV
[Jesus said:] “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:47-51 ESV
Mrs. Lester’s mother was sick with cancer. Mrs. Lester was very busy taking care of her mother–driving her to the doctor for treatments, cooking for her, doing her laundry, making sure the medical bills were paid, and making sure her mother had everything she needed. Mrs. Lester was so busy and stressed taking care of her mother that she didn’t take care of herself. She often didn’t feel hungry because she was upset, or else she was too busy to eat, so she didn’t eat good meals. Her friends became worried about her. They knew that if Mrs. Lester didn’t take better care of herself, she wouldn’t have the strength to take care of her mother. So they took turns cooking delicious meals and delivering them to her house. “You have to eat!” they told her. “You have to be strong so you can take care of your mother!”
Paul said the same kind of thing to the people on board the ship. They had been so stressed and fearful and busy in the storm that they hadn’t eaten anything for fourteen days! Paul told them that they had to eat something so they could keep up their strength. He reminded them that God had promised that no one would die. Then Paul took some bread and gave thanks to the Lord for it, and broke it and started to eat. When everyone else saw what he was doing, they followed his example and had something to eat themselves. After they did this, they went back to work. They had thrown out most of the ship’s cargo several days before, but now they threw out all the wheat they had kept on board. They did this to make the ship lighter and easier to maneuver.
There was a time when Jesus broke bread, gave thanks, and gave it to more than six thousand people who were hungry, and there was enough for everyone. The next day he taught them that he was the Bread of Life, the living bread that had come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this living bread will never die. When we believe in Jesus and trust in what he has done for us on the cross, we eat the living bread that gives us life forever. Jesus strengthens us by giving us his word, the Bible, to keep us strong in our journey through life. He also gives himself to his people in communion, where he gives his body and blood with the bread and wine, the same body that died on the cross to win our forgiveness and rose again from the dead to defeat death forever. We thank Jesus for being our living bread.
Dear Jesus, thank you for giving yourself to us on the cross. Please keep us strong and forgive our sins each day until we reach our home with you. Amen.