He that eateth ever liveth, for the Bread of Life is He. – Thomas Aquinas
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Here in America, the feeling of an empty distended stomach from malnutrition is pretty unusual. But, every kind of emptiness is common to the human condition. Loss and grief can make us feel empty too. Feeling a lack of purpose, direction and relationship contribute to this emptiness. As Thoreau said, “most men live lives of quiet desperation.” Whatever the cause of the emptiness, the Bible often connects physical emptiness, with spiritual emptiness.
At least seven times in the New Testament Jesus breaks bread with his disciples (Matt.26:26, John 21:13, Luke 24:35, John 13:26, John 6:11, Mark 8:6, Matt 9:10). His hands, manners and practice of breaking must have become very familiar. John’s gospel establishes Jesus as the Bread of Life, associating the satisfaction of our spiritual emptiness with physical hunger. And Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). The breaking of bread in Emmaus was not a miraculous meal like that of the five loaves, nor a sacramental meal like that of the Passover celebration, but a common meal. It wasn’t until the two sat down in the evening to share a meal, to fill their empty stomachs, that their spiritual stomach digested all the stranger had told them earlier. When the man (Jesus) broke the bread, they saw, they remembered, they were filled. The fullness of Christ’s knowledge and understanding so flooded their souls they immediately must have forgot their hunger, left the table and dashed to tell others! He is risen! Jesus is alive!
Bread is the common staple, the common nourishment of all people. Jesus death was for every tribe, language, people group and nation. Eating the bread offered on our behalf and partaking in Christ’s suffering when he emptied himself on the cross for our sins, brings us life and fullness, restoration and relationship with God the Father. There are two ways to deal with emptiness. One can distract themselves and ignore their emptiness with endless business or pursue an appropriate solution. If you feel a hunger inside or you feel empty, the truth is we’re not so much hungry for comfort food or leisure activities as we are empty of peace, purpose and wholeness. These are the things that only Christ can satisfy as the Bread of Life. The bread Christ broken was broken for you. Pray to be hungry for the word of God and be filled. Intensify your appetite: pray, search the scriptures, watch his hands, follow his example with deeds of love and compassion. You see, we all have emptiness – but we need to make sure we are filled by the Eternal Bread which nourishes and satisfies.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father,
so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven,
not like the bread the fathers ate, and died.
Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
By Donna Burns