Bread of Heaven
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn. 6:51).
The Apostle John wrote some long chapters in his gospel. The chapter divisions that are common to modern translations were developed by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 13th century. The Wycliffe English Bible of 1382 was the first Bible to use this chapter pattern. Nearly all Bible translations since then have followed Langton’s chapter divisions.
John 3:13 reminds us “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” John goes on and explains Jesus coming from heaven in chapter 6. He has come from heaven to do God’s will. We know that he has come as bread from heaven (Jn. 6:33, 50, 51, 58). He wants us to eat the bread from God, his flesh, and live with him forever in heaven. Yet, we spend so much time-consuming bread on earth, do we really know much about heaven?
We know that heaven is mentioned in the very first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). He created these “places” for us to live out eternity. Our lives on earth are quite short when compared to the time we will spend in eternity with God.
I have decided to set a portion of my days to study what I can about the place that I plan to live beyond this life. The Bible has 692 verses referencing heaven. Almost twice as many (426) in the Old Testament and the (266) New Testament. Of the 66 books in the Protestant Bible, 53 books mention heaven. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible gives us clues of what we can anticipate in heaven. “What no eye has seen, not ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has planned for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Heaven is going to be more than we can ever imagine, but that should not keep us from preparing for that destination.
We also should delight in this fact, that Jesus was willing to step down into creation, in order, to provide a way for each one of us to join him in heaven. This is good news that we can share with others. Just as Jesus gave himself as bread to us, we can -- and must -- offer this bread to those all around us in the world.
Prayer: O, bread of heaven, we give thanks for this bread that gives us life forever. Help us to offer this bread to those dying of hunger in this world. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. James Conley
Western Slope Ministry & Mission Facilitator
First Baptist Church of Delta, Colo.
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains