Our purpose is to continue Christ’s ministry on earth, and that includes His role as the Bread of Life. To manifest this in us, God must thresh, break, crush, and grind to produce the finest flour of Christ in us. Breaking must come before reshaping, because our old, original self is of no spiritual value and can only offer food that decays and falls away.
Bread flour must be ground; Therefore he does not thresh it forever, Break it with his cartwheel, Or crush it with his horsemen. (Isaiah 28:28)
Our modern world sometimes distances us from the vibrant biblical imagery, particularly with verses like today’s which draw on what was an integral part of life in those days. We trot off to the supermarket and bread is ready-made. Even those of us brave enough – which I am not – to make their own bread simply buy the ingredients. Many people haven’t a clue what the traditional grinding stones look like or how they were used. Isaiah draws on a powerful metaphor to highlight a deep spiritual truth, one which points unequivocally to Jesus, the Bread of Life. It vividly portrays the process that precedes the bread that is broken to give life to mankind. It’s a process that is seldom comfortable, because the wheat must first be threshed, broken, crushed, and ground before it can be reshaped into the bread which is so desperately needed.
Grinding for the Bread of Life.
The life of Christ is a beautiful fulfilment of today’s verse. We see Him threshed by the temptations of the devil and His own desire to avoid His terrible cup. He was broken by the whippings and crushed by the rejection and hatred. Finally, He was ground by His death on the cross so that the Bread of Life could rise again in power to feed humanity. Without all these things, the bread would be inferior. Each step in the process plays a vital part in breaking down the wheat to where it can provide nourishment and sustenance. Jesus had to go through all of these things to prepare for His resurrection in life-giving power. The cross was the only way. For wheat to become bread, it cannot remain as wheat. It must be utterly transformed, lose its original form and identity, and be remade into something else.
The essence of bread, including the making of it, is that of breaking. It must be broken in the making and broken again to feed us. The entire life and ministry of Christ was of being broken in order to become the Bread of Life for all who need His life-giving power. This process releases the life of God to us. It’s a vivid picture of taking something that has no value in its original form and remaking it into something of exceptional value. But it demands complete transformation. There is no holding back or avoiding any of the steps in the process. Jesus was utterly transformed from the Son of God to the Son of Man, and then to literally nothing before He was raised up to fulfil His purpose to nourish mankind. When we consider the communion bread, this is a truth we must always remember.
Our purpose in the Bread of Life.
This brings us to a truth every believer must take hold of. It’s not an easy truth to accept, but it’s vital if we are to live in God’s purposes and fulfil His will in our lives. The reality of Christ in us and us in Christ means that we are to live His life, not ours. That sounds great when we consider all the ‘inheritance’ and blessings we have in Jesus. But it’s not so comfortable or exciting when we realise we must continue His ministry by living as He did – to reveal the Father and His glory. If Jesus lived as the Bread of Life, we must too. This is not a romanticised ‘super spiritual’ version of Spirit-empowered living. It’s a down and dirty submission to the threshing, breaking, crushing, and grinding process that will transform us into bread that can then be broken to feed others.
It requires a long, hard look because there’s nothing comfortable or exciting about being transformed into the likeness of Christ as the Bread of Life. Our purpose is Christ’s purpose. We cannot separate the two and still claim to call Him Lord. His ministry continues through us, and we must be prepared as He was. God’s grace, however, is that Jesus has already completed the work. He will continue to live it through us. Our threshing, breaking, crushing, and grinding is the process of removing self – the things that taint the flour and render it impure. Without Christ in us, it would be too much for anyone to bear. But His indwelling presence and the power of the Spirit works miraculously to accomplish His purposes. He does what we cannot, but it requires our participation. It demands our willingness to lay down self – our lives – as He did.
Preparing the Bread of Life is personal and perfect.
The beauty in today’s verse is that we have the assurance that God knows exactly how much is needed. He will not inflict more threshing, crushing, and breaking than what is required. It is the grinding that produces the fine flour, and grinding is a personal activity. He does it one-one-one. It’s not left to outside factors to accomplish like the first three steps of the process. He rolls up His sleeves and carefully grinds to create the perfect flour for His purposes. We can be sure there are no do-overs required. He will never under or over work the grinding and end up with mistakes that need to be discarded. What is produced is absolutely perfect and sufficient for the need. God is intimately involved every step of the way. He knows how much and how long, and we have the assurance that His finished work will be perfect.
We can’t avoid the first three parts of the process, but He does promise that it won’t be for long. His work will only be until we are ready for the final grinding – the lovingly shaping what emerges from the threshing, crushing and breaking. The other assurance we have is that it is releasing the Bread of Life in us. Not only will this feed us but through us will feed others. While grinding self out, He is grinding resurrection life in. God instils within the flour the power of life that defines Jesus. The process lovingly transforms us from our old sinful selves which had no kingdom value into the image of Christ. In Him, we become the bread of life. We may be broken, but the intimacy and communion that accompanies the process ensures that grinding never brings death but perfect life and liberty.
Our willingness to live as the Bread of Life.
We serve a gracious God. Unlike kernels of wheat, we have free will and can choose to submit to His transforming processes or not. The truth is that the less of the grinding we submit to, the rougher the result will be. The Bread of Life we offer to the world will be compromised. Christ’s purity will be diminished, and the results will be less than they should be. The God who can accomplish the impossible has chosen to work with the roughest of materials. Surrendered into His hands, these can be transformed into the finest flour to manifest the true Bread of Life who is Christ. It is the loving hands of God Himself who works us into the pure flour He desires. Yes, it can be hard along the way. But to have the privilege of manifesting the Bread of Life is a blessing beyond imagining.
Bread of Life, forgive us if we have tried to avoid the threshing, breaking, crushing, and grinding that bring Your forth within us. Forgive us for the times we have offered anything less than pure bread, the true revelation of You. Grant us the courage to come willingly to the Father’s hand and even to rejoice in the times of shaping and remaking in Your image. Above all, Lord, help us to yield so that You may live and Your work continue through us for Your eternal glory.