[Jesus said,] “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate 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.”
Poets tell us what our eyes, blurred with too much gawking, and our ears, dull with too much chatter, miss around and within us. Poets use words to drag us into the depths of reality itself. Poetry grabs us by the jugular; far from being cosmetic language, it is intestinal. -Eugene Peterson, interview for On Being radio show and podcast
Be our bread
For four days we have been meditating upon the sixth chapter of John’s gospel and Jesus has said twice, “I am the bread of life.” The verses are poetic, steeped in metaphor. But if poetry just sounded pretty, we would adorn the Bible in a glass case and admire it from afar. Instead, we are caught up in the messiness of metaphor.
When we first hear Jesus is bread, we might think, “Sure that sounds good.” Then we realize, “No, that’s not true. People aren’t bread; God isn’t bread. Bread is flour and yeast, liquid, salt, and sweetener.”
But finally, yes, like bread, we need Jesus. Our bodies need Jesus. Without a relationship with God, we wander in the wilderness, grasping form stuff we think gives life but eventually fails. Loved ones who have cared for us desert us, break our hearts, and die. The stuff we amass crowds our closets and basements. We pay rent for extra boxes to store the excess. Even the food we love only fills us for so long. The next day, we will be hungry. Yes, Jesus, you are the bread of life.
God, our life, our bread, open us to the power of poetry in our relationship with you and the world you love. Amen.