Have I ever done a blog series? I don’t know that I have. But I’ve recently finished reading an amazing book called Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist* by Brant Pitre, and it has forever changed the way I view communion. Far more, it gave me such a deep understanding of what Christ was really doing when He came to earth to save us. The expectations He was meeting and fulfilling. The way He’d written history to perfectly foreshadow what He knew He was going to do for us.

It’s beautiful. So, so beautiful. And so, naturally, I want to share it with you. As I always do, I’m going to take the lessons I learned not just from the book above, but also from everything else I was reading and doing during the 8-week study I did of the book, which means some of it will be Pitre’s research, some of it will be my own, and all of it, I hope, will make you go “Wow!” just as it did me.

So for the next several weeks, I’m going to look at the different ideas that all work together to give us this beautiful, complex, deep picture. And I’m going to start with the idea of our “daily bread.” (For the record, this isn’t where the book begins. But it’s the thing that has stuck with me the most and where I want to start, LOL.)

Have you ever pondered the repetition of that line of the Lord’s Prayer? Give us this day our daily bread.

Um…this day, our daily…yeah. I’d never really stopped to consider how that was saying the same thing twice. Why doesn’t it just say “give us this day the bread we need”?

Because to the Jews Jesus was talking to, daily bread didn’t just mean “what we need today.” It covered that meaning, sure. But it isn’t all it meant. And in fact, the word used there in the Greek doesn’t have anything to do with the word for day. The Greek word is epiousia, and it actually means “above the natural” or perhaps “super-substantial.” This prayer is inviting us to pray for supernatural bread. And in Jewish history, what was their supernatural, God-delivered, daily bread?


So why is Jesus inviting us to beseech God daily for His provision of manna? Why does Jesus talk about the manna in His “bread of life” discourse in John 6?

Because the people of Jesus’s day who were looking for a Messiah had something very specific in mind. They weren’t waiting for just any Messiah. They were waiting for a new Moses. Someone to deliver them not just from oppression, but to true freedom, of spirit as well as politics or physical things. Moses himself prophesied that another would be raised up in his same spirit, and that was exactly what the people of God had been waiting for in the thousands of years between Moses and Jesus.


Because though they entered the earthly Promised Land, they never fully possessed it. They’d forfeited so much of what the covenant between God and Abraham was supposed to include through their disobedience and sin. They were supposed to be a nation of priests, with each father being the direct line between their families and God Himself.

But they’d instead worshipped the Golden Calf. They’d turned their hearts back to Egypt. Despite the miraculous escape from Egypt and the ways God had met them in the wilderness already, despite the words He had spoken aloud to them as a people, they’d forgotten. They’d sinned. They’d broken the terms of the covenant, and so they were given a new, abbreviated version–one with a lot of rules to follow. No longer would each man be able to go directly to God—only the Levites, who had remained true to the Promise, could do that. The priesthood was gifted only to them.

In another amazing book called A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn, the author goes into fascinating detail about all aspects of the covenant between God and man, and he pays especial attention to the giving of the Law to Moses. Did you know that every single animal God deemed “clean” had been reviled in Egypt? And that every animal that Egyptians included in their rituals of worship or used to represent the gods, God marked as “unclean”? I had never realized that! But it was a total and complete reversal of the ways of Egypt. We today tend to look at His prohibitions from a purely scientific point of view—you know the ones. “Pigs are filthy animals. Lobsters are bottom-feeders. They carry disease and make you unhealthy.” And all that may be true. But it misses a very vital part of the equation.

God wanted His people to completely forget the ways and worship of the Egyptians. He wanted them to be set apart. He didn’t want them to be constantly looking over their shoulders toward Egypt, like Lot’s wife at Sodom. He wanted them to embrace being a people set apart. A people belonging to the One True God and none other. He didn’t want to be a god in a pantheon. He wanted to be the sole ruler of His people’s hearts.

Part of this was taking care of His people during the journey from oppression to freedom, even when that journey took forty years instead of a few weeks thanks to their unfaithfulness and stubbornness and doubt.

Boy, that’s reassuring, isn’t it? Because let’s face it, friends. All of us have short memories. When it’s sweltering in the summer, we don’t remember how cold we were in the winter. When our land is parched and dying, we don’t really care that it was flooded last year. When we’re thirsty, it doesn’t matter if we had water enough to drink two days ago.

We are a people of now. A people of “what have you done for me lately?” A people so quick to forget God’s promises. And even when we remember them, knowing it doesn’t necessitate feeling it.

Yet still God meets us there, in our deserts. He meets us in our doubt. When we cry out, no matter how whiny we may sound, He provides.

When His people cried out for food, He sent them food every day. Bread from heaven in the morning. Quail in the evenings.

Pause for a moment to consider that—the daily miracle. The miracle that was so weird at the start that they named it “what is it?” and yet which they quickly grew so bored of that their complaints brought on a plague.

What daily miracles are we treating with such disdain? What daily bread are we turning our noses up at? What miracles are we not only refusing to believe anymore to be miracles, but do we come to despise?

It’s no coincidence that Jesus both begins and ends His “offensive” speech about the Bread of Life—a clear lesson on what we now call the Lord’s Supper, the Last Supper, Communion, or the Eucharist, depending on our faith background—with talk of manna.

Manna, the “daily bread” given to the people of Israel. Manna, which was “food for the journey.” Manna, which ceased when they entered the Promised Land. Manna, which was given every single morning (except for Sabbath, of course) for forty years. Manna, which tasted like wafers in honey—a foretaste of that Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.

Why did Christ draw the parallel between that daily bread and the bread that is His flesh? Why did He instruct us to pray for it to be given to us “each day”?

Because His flesh—that communion bread—is our sustenance for our journey in this life. Our journey before we reach our Promised Land, which is when we’ll dwell in His courts for eternity. Jesus is our manna. He is our daily bread. He is our supernatural bread. His flesh is food indeed and His blood is drink indeed, that’s what He tells us in John 6. And only those who partake of it—and who believe it—will have eternity with Him.

But there’s a whole lot more to how Jesus brought a new dimension to the Passover, and next week, we’re going to look at that Passover more fully.

In the meantime, I would love to know–what does Holy Communion mean to you? What role does it play in your church or your faith? I will admit that I had a very limited understanding of it for many years…and that it was studying it out that led me to change churches. Because I do believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the wafer and wine. I believe it is a miracle performed daily for us. And I needed a Church that teaches the same.

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