I was a young pastor when a couple asked me to marry them. The young lady was hesitant, as to whether he was the right man, but he was absolutely convinced that he could not live without her. I inquired whether they felt a spark of love and she indicated that she could love him. And of course, he assured her and me that he had unimpeachable love for her. I, the fool-hearted preacher with a wonderful marriage, told them that love would resolve their uncertainty. This marriage resolved in a heartbreaking divorce for two families, at a time when divorce, in their religious circle, was a disgrace. For the last, nearly sixty years, I have and I still ask young lovers with noble intentions whether they have bread on the table. While we live here on earth, I have been convinced, over and over again, that love does not fill an empty stomach. It is true that man does not live by bread alone, but without bread, man cannot live at all (Luke 4:4). It is not love or the wheel, but it is bread, which turns the world. Love and the wheel should be used to produce bread.
Bread builds and nourishes the body. The body houses the spirit and the breath that comes from God, who is Spirit (John 4:24). Man was created to tend for himself and make his own bread (Genesis 3:19). Any able person who does not work does not deserve to be fed (II Thessalonians 3:10). Sin and transgression disables the human spirit and weakens the human body to feed and even to serve itself, and anyone else. God’s Christmas Gift was “His Living Bread of Life” that heals the human spirit. God’s “Living Bread of Life” can heal the human body to become useful to itself and to others. I know first hand what that means. A fire accident took the use of my hands and demoralized my mind as to how I would make a living in this world? A kind pastor directed me to the Christmas Gift, the Christ. And God reformed my mind and He offered me a job, which has enabled me to care of myself and of others for sixty-seven years. In less than a month, I am going to be eighty-eight and my mind is better oriented than it was at the age of twenty-one when the fire struck me down.
When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his people to Jesus, the Christmas Gift. And they demanded to know whether Jesus was the Gift of Bread that could heal the mind and the body? Jesus’ answer was:
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (Matthew 11:2-6).
CHRISTMAS BREAD IS THE ETERNAL BREAD! AND IT IS AVAILABLE HERE ON EARTH — THE BREAD IS NOT CARNAL — BUT THE BREAD IS MORAL AND SPIRITUAL!
Five thousand people had followed Jesus to one lonely place without food. Jesus multiplied a boy’s lunch and He fed them all. The crowd was convinced that Jesus was the Prophet, who would give them bread, even when they did not earn it. And they wanted to force Jesus to be their king. The people were no different from our time, who elect leaders because they promise to give them bread. Jesus, of course, withdrew quietly. To those who followed Jesus across the lake to Capernaum, He explained the issue at hand. The language Jesus used may not make us feel comfortable, but to regard it as allegorical or as symbolic is the biggest mistake the interpreters make. Satan, the enemy, who was and who is set on destroying humanity, the image, and the likeness in man, is barbaric and cannibalistic. Satan’s agents did hang Christ’s body and Christ’s flesh on the cross! However, Satan’s agents could not stop Christ’s Spirit from completing “His Mission of Redemption,” to save man. Satan’s agents ate His flesh, but they could not devour Christ’s Spirit and Christ’s Soul (John 8:39-47). Jesus’ followers also must be prepared to bear their crosses:
Then Jesus said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my word, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory, of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:23-27).
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we o to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will rise him up at the last day.”
At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the anna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood as eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Our forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever. He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:25-59).
JESUS’ WORDS IMPLICATE ALL CHRISTIANS
Jesus was very adamant about His emissary task to Israel and to the world. Jesus is the “Spiritual Flesh” and the diet that God has prescribed for man to eat in order to re-enter God’s Kingdom and to re-establish a relationship with the Creator God. As far as God, the Father of Jesus the Christ, was and is concerned there is no other way and there is no alternative way — but Jesus the Christ, who is God’s Son. Jesus also is the Lamb of God who can atone for the sins man. To be a follower of Christ means that one must perform the same emissary redemptive sacrifices of their flesh and their bodies for their fellow men. To deny their message is to deny Christ and God the Father who commissioned all of them. To qualify for the Kingdom of God and for the eternal life, man must (dei) dissect himself and man must be reborn like a baby, with no attachment to this sinful world. We must follow the directions Jesus has left for us.
Jesus answered Thomas, who asked for directions to the father, “I am the the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6-7).
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say yo me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).
I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Luke 12:8-10).
But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you (Luke 11:20).
A student (disciple) is not above his teacher, nor is a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24).
He who receives you received me, and he who receives me received me the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward (Matthew 10:40-42).
Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:17-20)
Jesus’ message to Nicodemus, a good and pious man, was to “give up your world,” regardless how good it was, for the Kingdom of Heaven.
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).
The beloved disciple and Apostle John Zebedee left these challenging words:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (I John 2:15-17).
CHRISTIANS, LIKE THEIR LORD, ARE CHARGED WITH REDEEMING THE WORLD
Christ, no longer, is present in the flesh! Christ is present in the Spirit to continue His Redemptive Mission, which He authorized, He commissioned, and He charged his disciples to continue His work. Before Jesus was crucified, He promised to build His Kingdom with Peter as the one who would admit or deny man’s entrance into His Kingdom. The Risen Christ commissioned all his disciples, even those who would come to believe in Him through the witness of Jesus’ Apostles, to continue to build His work:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and o this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20).
On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:19-23).
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15).
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching the to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:16-20).
In my former book (The Gospel according to Luke), Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave the his command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift of my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).
My prayer is not for them (disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that
The love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them (John 17:20-26).
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins (James 6:19-20).