Before there was Panera Bread, Dunkin’ Donuts, and your grocery store bakery, there was the “neighborhood” bakery. There was one in every little town and every big city neighborhood, full of everything that a baker can bake, including the aroma. Many would put their latest creations in the window hoping that if the aroma didn’t draw you in, the devils food cake in the window would do the trick. Sure there was grocery store bread, cookies and other assorted goodies but none of them came close to the delights available at the neighborhood bakery. Silly as it may sound, whenever my mother would buy bakery bread my brother and I were disappointed, since every kid’s favorite was the soft, almost mushy variety, which can still be found on the grocery store shelf, Wonder Bread.
Not that many years ago it would have been unheard of, outside of a Jewish or Hispanic market, to look for unleavened bread at your local supermarket, but today pita and tortillas (sometimes called “wraps”) and matzo, in some form, are nearly a staple for many. Who would have thought that whether or not bread is made with yeast could become a topic discussed in the church and historically, an oft-times heated one at that? What I’m talking about, of course, is the celebration, practice or sacrament the Christian church repeats regularly, having been instituted by Christ on the night He was betrayed by Judas. Jesus’ disciples shared Christ’s last meal with Him and the consecration and sharing of the bread and wine became a means of remembering what Jesus’ did on the cross so many years ago.
The bread at this “last supper” would surely have been unleavened since the Jewish holiday around which Jesus and his followers had gathered was the festival of unleavened bread, during the week of Passover. Unleavened bread was to be a reminder to the Jew of when their ancestors made their quick “Exodus” from Egypt and left with the morning bread dough still in the pans, not yet having been leavened with yeast. Believe it or not, centuries later, the church would debate whether or not bread made with yeast was appropriate for the Communion celebration. Some people will argue over anything, but the subject of leavening comes up and does have import for us when Jesus uses it to illustrate His point in Matthew 16:5-12. It’s also another illustration of how thick headed the disciples could be at times and serves as a comfort to us, as we try to figure out what God is trying to teach us; when we are confused and lack understanding.
I would like to suggest you read this passage from Matthew and then we will explore the topic of leavening and it’s implications for us today.
Tool #396 Not all bread is the same, that’s why Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”