Core scripture: “‘But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’” (John 4:32)
Message: My classroom becomes a mecca for breakfast Wednesday mornings. Kids of all ages line the hallway that leads to my doorway. And as I proudly carry a carton full of bagels, bread, and pastries leftover from our FCA meeting, my biggest bread fan screams out.
“He brought the bread!”
How he puts three bagels in his scrawny 70-pound body is still a mystery to me. He devours it like a raptor. Crumbs follow him down the hallway like Hansel and Gretel.
A chant erupts from my entourage. “Bread! Bread! Bread! Bread! Bread!”
I plop the cardboard box down and pull out my keys, giving a few high fives. The kids know exactly where my light switch is. They know exactly where the box goes. They bum rush the bread like a pack of starving wild wolves devouring a delicious carcass. First come, first serve.
Once my feasters hit the hallways, the latecomers get word. Shy 6th graders I have never seen before will peek in my room. I welcome them. Bold 8th graders sprint like Usain Bolt across the back of my room, shoving the 6th graders aside. Then of course my classes get to partake of the feast all through the day. It is our Wednesday tradition.
Of course the question always arises, “Where did you get the bread, Mr. Daniels?”
I tell them the truth. My wife works at a preschool that gets leftovers from Panera on Tuesdays. There is always a plethora of leftover breads, sometimes filling two large trash sacks to the brim. I haul them in for our FCA group, but nine times out of ten, there are always leftovers.
“What is FCA?” they ask.
I smile at them. Hey, they asked, right? If an FCA kid is next to me, I might say, “Go ask her!” Or if it is just me, I tell them all about what Fellowship of Christian Athletes is. Amazing how this conversation can start over a leftover bagel from Panera.
In John 4 Jesus comes across the woman at the well. Jews never talked to Samaritans. Plus, this was a woman. An adulterous woman. Most would have never started a conversation with this lady, yet Jesus sought her out. He treated her as an equal. His love for her led her to invite the entire town to see this amazing man who told her everything she ever did.
Jesus was mobbed! His disciples were flabbergasted. They looked at Him with question in their eyes. They knew He would need energy to minister to all these people. They implore Him to eat something, yet Jesus responds in that unique, somewhat mystical way He always replies.
“My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work” (John 4:34).
Jesus quickly became the most popular man in that village. The townspeople begged Him to stay, and Jesus ended up ministering to them for two whole days. Many more heard and believed.
Soon after, Jesus performed one of His greatest miracles, feeding the 5,000 on fives loaves of bread and two fish. He declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). How true! Jesus is that substance that fuels us. He gives us an energy never seen before.
I get to see that energy every Wednesday morning. The joy on those kids faces that grab bread is priceless. Some may have skipped breakfast. Others just enjoy a snack to get them through the morning. Though I cannot talk about the true Bread of Life to them, they see a bit of Jesus through my actions. Gratitude spills from their hearts.
Just yesterday I brought in some leftover Fig Newtons and Honey Maid Grahams to share from home. You would have thought I had offered them the world! It gave them a little pep, and the ones who feasted powered through working on their projects. Many asked for seconds. Oh, to have the metabolism of a middle schooler once more!
A little snack never hurt a kid. Food can bring joy and energy, but most important of all, it is a symbol of Christ’s love. The next time you find yourself with an excess of snacks, put that food to use. When you fellowship with students like this, you are showing them something so much more than a snack. You are showing them the love of Jesus. The true Bread of Life.
Challenge: Any leftover Valentine’s Day candy laying around? Popcorn from Christmas? Alright, that might be a little stale, but if you test it out and it has retained freshness, consider bringing it to school. Let your students have a snack on you. Or if you have been blessed with the gift of cooking (not me by the way!), whip up a batch of brownies to share. You never know whose belly might be rumbling.
Bible study: Read through John 4 through John 6. Take it a chapter at a time. Inhale it slowly, and think about what you are reading. Go back and reread. Spend a week on it if necessary. Get out your journal if you are so inspired. Ponder the following questions …
How is Jesus the Bread of Life? Why do you think he performs the miracle of feeding the 5,000 with bread and fish? How can we live out what He is talking about? How does the breaking of bread factor in to partaking communion? Do you quiet your heart and meditate on Jesus when you take communion, or is it just a snack in church?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are indeed the Bread of Life! Fill our souls with Your Holy Spirit, the only substance that will lead to eternal life. Amen.