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Psalm 132:13-15 1
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,  he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, 14“This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. 15 I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food.

Background

Psalm 132 is a “Song of Ascents” meant to be sung as people are on their way to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. They are ascending literally God’s holy hill. Zion is another name for Jerusalem. God has declared Zion God’s holy habitation. Not for the moment, but for all time.

It is one thing to expertise the presence of God in a particular place. It is quite another to go to a specific location with an assurance that one will meet God there. The uniqueness of the Temple is that  people who go there are promised they will meet God there.

God declares it is Gods resting place forever. So for all eternity, one can go there and be close to God.  God says he has desired it. We don’t often think about God desiring something. Apparently God desired Jerusalem as God’s dwelling place and resting place.

The whole concept of rest makes us think of the Sabbath Day -w hen we are to rest and keep it holy  unto the Lord. It may be a new thought to envision God at rest on that day, as well.  This does not mean that God is not at work. God says God will abundantly bless Jerusalem’s provisions.

There will be plenty and more for the people there. To underscore this, God promises to satisfy the poor with bread.  Bread is that staple that is expected to be p[art of any meal. Even so, sometimes it is hard for the poorest of the poor to find bread. Famously, when Queen Marie Antoinette was told that the poor had  no bread, she said “Let them eat cake.” It probably didn’t happen, but it is an example of the gap between the poor and the wealthy.

In Jerusalem, the poor will have their bread. God will see to it.

Items for Discussion

  • Where do you experience God most closely. Please describe.
  • Why do you think God chose a particular place to be close to God’s people?
  • Do you have a favorite kind of bread? Tell us about it.
  • What does the promise of bread for the poor tell you about God?
  • What will that bread do for them?

John 6:53:51
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” 41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 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’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Background

Jesus is teaching about himself in this passage, and he makes one of his famous “I am” statements: I am  the Bread of Life. The whole point of this passage is that while earthly bread nourishes earthly life (all of  which will pass away), Jesus has been sent so that we might come / see / hear / learn / trust / eat the  bread from heaven / the true bread that gives eternal life.

What he is interested in, with every person and group he encounters in the Gospel of John, is initiating a dialogue that can lead to a faith that is the beginning of a relationship.” He is clearly identifying himself as the new creation. The new garden. The new tree. The new fruit. The new bread.

According to Bible scholar Raymond Brown, to take in someone’s ‘body and blood’ could, in Hebrew understanding, mean something as simple, and uncontroversial, as accepting the whole person.”  When we seek to follow in the footsteps of the faith that enabled Jesus to give up his life for the life of  the world, it frees us for a whole new way of living, one that is motivated by compassion and giving, by  mercy and caring, by faith and hope and love. We have to open ourselves to receive the gift.

It is as if Jesus is reminding us: “You are not the baker nor the distributor. You are just another hungry  pilgrim on the hillside or in the wilderness. God can present us with the bread of heaven, but God can’t  make us eat.”  The Bread from Heaven will give life to the world, astonishingly, by dying for it. This Bread of Life from
Heaven is no ‘free lunch;’ it will cost Jesus his life. Feeding on this bread will bring us as well to the cross.

Items for Discussion

  • When you think of fresh bread, especially home-made bread, what types of stories, memories does it bring forward?
  • The memories of a home or bakery and the smells of fresh bread, usually bring warm and pleasant memories. How might Jesus as “The Bread of Life” be analogous to your stories and memories?
  • How does the image of Jesus as the Bread of Life speak to you?
  • Have you ever pictured God resting? Why do you think God might want to rest?
  • How do we “feed on” the Bread of Life?

Discussion Challenge

  • How can a congregation bring forth the same pleasures for visitors as one might expect to find when they walk into their mother’s kitchen when she is baking something like bread?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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