‘Bread from Heaven’

‘Bread from Heaven’

Wednesday – June 19, 2019

‘Bread From Heaven’

Writing in The Spectator magazine in 2013, Dr Jonathan Sachs, former Chief Rabbi in the UK, said, “I love the remark made by one Oxford don about another: ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’ That sentence has more than once come to mind when reading the new atheists…. “Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche?”

I want to add, ‘And where is the serious attention that previous generations paid to the account of the most remarkable man in history – the man who, as HG Wells put is, dominates history?’

Luke the physician begins his account by setting out his own credentials as a reliable historian. He tells us that he not only read current documents about Jesus, but that he verified the accuracy of his account with eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (Luke 1:1-2). This is important for us to know, because otherwise Luke was himself either deceived or deliberately deceiving us.

Luke 9 begins with Jesus’ commission to his twelve disciples to go and announce the coming of God’s kingdom. The result saw large crowds coming to Jesus who welcomed them. However, there was no food to feed them all and the disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away. 

However, they had forgotten part of Jesus’ commission when he sent them on their mission: they were to take no bread (provisions) or money with them. God would provide what they needed. It was yet another indication they had not really grasped who Jesus is, nor what he could do. Like us, they were slow to understand and slow to trust.

Significantly, Jesus involved the disciples in what followed: they were to have the crowd of five thousand sit down in groups of fifty. Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish…, Jesus looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd (Luke 9:16). He was not reciting magic but simply doing what God’s people have always done before eating – taking the bread and giving thanks for it. He then had the disciples work with him in the distribution

In looking up to heaven Jesus acknowledged that God provided the food. The miracle looked back to the time of Moses and God’s provision of manna for his people (Exodus 16:4-36). This feeding of the crowd also looked forward to the greatest of all banquets that God will one day give his people (Luke 14:15ff; Revelation 19:9).  The crowds had done nothing to deserve this kindness and they had no way of reciprocating. It was an act of God’s extraordinary generosity.

The meal not only satisfied everyone, but an abundance was left over: twelve baskets of broken pieces (9:17).  God in Jesus, had provided more food than was needed. The leftovers pointed to the trustworthiness of Jesus’ earlier charge to the twelve not to take food or money on their mission.

It is a significant lesson for us. Can we trust Jesus as the Lord who is committed to provide for our needs for as long as we need them? Don’t be anxious about what your life, what you will eat or your body, what you will put on, Jesus went on to say (Luke 12:22f); Your Father knows that you need them.

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© John G. Mason – www.anglicanconnection.com

Note: Material for today’s ‘Word’ is adapted from my commentary, Luke: An Unexpected God (Aquila: 2019, 2nd Edition).

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Getty Music Worship Conference: ‘Sing…!’ – August 19-21, 2019, Nashville, TN

Theme: ‘The Life of Christ’ – www.gettymusicworshipconference.com

John Mason speaking – Breakout Group: Monday, August 19, 3:00-4:00pm.

Topic: ‘Thomas Cranmer and Christ-Centered Worship. 

A Spiritual Re-Awakening…? Day 29 Lenten Readings & Reflections through John’s Gospel

A Spiritual Re-Awakening…? Day 29 Lenten Readings & Reflections through John’s Gospel

Day 29 (Monday, April 8, 2019)


John 15:1-11

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”


The prevailing ethos of today, that the individual is the most important person in the world, inspires a self-interest and self-love that too often neglects the worth and needs of others, especially of those deemed unlovely.

How against the grain is Jesus’ teaching in John 15. He speaks of himself as the true vine and those who follow him as the branches that are to produce the fruit of love. In the past, God had planted Israel as a vine (Psalm 80:8-11), but it had produced the bad fruit of injustice and distress (Isaiah 5:7).

God in Christ was about to prune and make clean a new people through Jesus’ death (John 10:18). Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet symbolized this cleansing – a promise authenticated by Jesus’ word, showing it was true.

So Jesus teaches us that when we truly abide in him and he through his Spirit in us, we will bear the fruit of self-forgetfulness: serving and doing good works for one another, including the unlovely. Paradoxically, when we love and serve one another in this way we will discover satisfying, unexpected joy. This will glorify God.

Furthermore, others will see it and be drawn to it; for deep down everyone is looking for satisfying relationships. How often do we ignore opportunities to serve and create unnecessary tension in small matters, whether at church, at work or in our household. Jesus teaches us, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”


Lord God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: mercifully accept our prayers, and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do nothing good without you, grant us the help of your grace, so that in keeping your commands we may please you both in will and deed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, Trinity 1)

Daily Reading Plan

Read again John 15:1-11. Take some time to meditate on what it means for you to abide in Christ and be adopted as one of God’s children.

A Spiritual Re-Awakening…? Day 29 Lenten Readings & Reflections through John’s Gospel

A Spiritual Re-Awakening…? Sunday 4 – Lenten Readings & Reflections through John’s Gospel

SUNDAY 4 (March 31, 2019)

Psalm 95: A call to true worship

1 O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would hear his voice! 8 Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who err in heart, and they do not regard my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my anger that they should not enter my rest.


Our world is not getting any better. Indeed our Western world seems to be increasingly wrecking itself on the rocks of unadulterated selfishness.  Where do we turn for hope?

The Book of Psalms reminds us that in the midst of the day-to-day realities of life, our only hope is to turn to the Lord God for his help and to his Word for his wisdom.

Psalm 2, the second of the two foundational psalms (Psalm 1 is the first) jumps straight in with a question: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain against God and his king?’

And, in setting the scene for the whole Book, it continues with words that speak of the futility of humankind: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2-3).

Why is it that men and women, created beings, plot against their creator? And in anticipation of the events that led to Jesus’ death, why is it that kings and rulers – Herod and Pilate – conspire together to bring down God’s elect king? And why is it that men and women speak of God’s instruction as bonds to be broken and cords to be cast off? Hosea 11:4 speaks of God’s cords of kindness, and Jesus invites us to come to him for his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30).   

With this beginning, Psalm 2 introduces a theme that bubbles through the psalms – namely the plotting of men and women against their creator. At the same time we are introduced to two other characters we find in the Psalms, God and his anointed King.

We then read God’s response: He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:4-6).

And in verses 7-9, God’s king now speaks: I will tell of the decree: The Lord (that is, God) said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” At Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, God the Father proclaimed him his Son in words drawn from this verse – and also from Isaiah 42:1. When Jesus commissioned the apostles, he emphasized the nations and the ends of the earth, taking up this promise concerning God’s King.

In the final verses the Psalm-writer comes back with words of warning for the nations, the kings and rulers: Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled (2:10-12a).

Derek Kidner (Psalms 1-72: Tyndale) comments, ‘God’s patience is not placidity, any more than His fierce anger is loss of control, His laughter cruelty or His pity sentimentality. When His moment comes for judgement, in any given case, it will be by definition beyond appeasing or postponing’.

And, in words that draw us back to Psalm 1, the psalm-writer concludes: Blessed are all who take refuge in him – that is, the Son. As Kidner sums up, ‘There is no refuge from Him: only in Him’.

© John G. Mason – www.anglicanconnection.com