Bethlehem means House of Bread in Hebrew. What a fitting place for the Bread of Life to be born! Jesus from His very birth associated Himself with bread as He lay in a manger filled with grains for the animals to eat.
In John 6, He called Himself the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. Moses had given the people manna, but they died. The Father was giving to us the true bread from heaven–Jesus’ very flesh and blood. Christ said that my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats of it will never die.
John 6:66 tells of the people leaving Him because they could not handle His teaching. Jesus asked His disciples if they wanted to go too. Their response sounded a little conflicted. Where else could they go? Only He had the words of eternal life.
Jesus did not elaborate further until they got to the Last Supper. Where He lifted up the bread and said “This is my body,” and lifted up the cup of wine and said, “This is my blood”. Finally, it was clear! We were to eat His body and drink His blood through bread and wine changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus then let His body be put through the same process wheat goes through. At that time, wheat was first harvested then brought to the threshing floor. There it was beaten with flails to break the wheat from the chaff. A flail was a wooden stick with a number of other wooden sticks attached to the end. It looks visually very similar to the cat-o-nine-tails which was used to scourge Jesus.
Then everything was lifted high in the air on a windy hilltop where the chaff would blow away and the heavier wheat would fall to the ground. Much like Jesus was lifted up from the earth on the cross. The one man cursed God until he died, and the good thief came to repentance. The spiritual wheat and chaff were separated there.
The wheat was then ground into flour by millstones. They would have big wooden beams that would extend outward and oxen would be attached to the beam. They would walk in a circle while they ground the wheat. The Philistines attached Samson to the wooden beam which he carried on his shoulders as he trudged. Visually that was very similar to Jesus carrying His cross up the hill.
Jesus Himself said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus died and was buried just like that grain of wheat.
From His birth, through His teaching, through His Passion, Death and Burial, Jesus associated Himself with Bread. At Christmas, see Him there lying in a grain-filled manger at a place called the House of Bread.
#Eucharist #Bethlehem #trcot #tcot #House of Bread