Is your church really like bread? Why is that important? Have you ever heard such a thing? You should have! Why? I did not invent the comparison. You may be surprised to know how factual it is and where it comes from.
Harvest and Church
I often speak of our need to understand the Old Testament. The better we understand it, the better we understand the New Testament. And in this case, the Old Testament gives us a profound understanding of the Church. But isn’t the Church a New Testament idea? Yes, it is. Would you be surprised to know the Church is beautifully pictured in the Old Testament? The ‘connection’ is found in Acts 2:1 –
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Notice the word, fully. The Greek word, sympleroo, means:
- To accomplish completely; or
- To fulfill in regards to time
The Day of Pentecost was an annual celebration of the Jewish people. It was 50 days after the Passover. Now, remember the timeline of Jesus death, resurrection, and bodily appearances thereafter.
For forty days Jesus walked among His disciples and others. He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive power from Him. That power was the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit came after the disciples had waited ten days. That’s a total of 50 days.
The Picture of Pentecost
In Acts 2, the day of Pentecost came to completion. Therefore, one should want to know what the celebration was intended to show or teach us. It becomes very clear by examining the Old Testament observance with the events in Acts 2.
At Passover, the first sheaf reaped from the barley harvest was presented to God. But at Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were given to God. Therefore, Pentecost is called the day of firstfruits (see Numbers 28:26).
Furthermore, Jewish tradition taught that Pentecost commemorated the day when the Law was given to Israel. The Jews sometimes called Pentecost shimchath torah, or Joy of the Law.
On the Old Testament Day of Pentecost, Israel received the Law. On the Acts 2 Day of Pentecost, the Church received the Spirit and began the ministry of God’s Grace and forgiveness.
Pentecost and Bread
The bread comes into view in the Old Testament ritual. The first shocks of grain were loosely bound together and brought up the temple steps by the priests. Bread was made from this grain. Don’t let it slip by you. Bread is made from grain. But in the form of bread, the individual grains are no longer visible. One cannot ‘uncook’ the bread and come out with grain.
That’s is exactly what happened to the believers at the fulfillment of Pentecost. 120 loosely bound disciples went into the Upper Room. The Holy Spirit fell on them and empowered them. What came down from that Upper Room was one, unified, indivisible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was just like that bread. However, there is still more to the idea and imagery.
The Old Testament celebration of harvest pictured the reason for the Church to exist. The Lord’s field, the world, is indeed white unto harvest. He wants to draw all men to Himself. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
What’s more, Jesus told us in John 6 that He is the Bread of Life. He is our Source of nourishment and satisfaction. He is the One around Whom we fellowship as we would around any meal. We celebrate His Supper by being reminded that His body and blood are the bread and wine.
Bread and Church
All of that combines to say some incredibly important things. Is your church as unified and inseparable as that loaf of bread? It may be that you’ve seen too many people try to slice it and separate it. Is your church focused on the harvest mission? That’s making disciples who make disciples. Is the fellowship in your church something awesome for people to experience? If it isn’t, how will people ever take part and say with the Psalmist,
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.
You see, you really can learn a great deal about your church from a loaf of bread! Think about it.
Soli Deo Gloria!