Faith & Insight: Bread and water diet for spiritual fitness

Brian Underwood

Brian Underwood

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If you’re up to here with all the precipitation we’ve had this year, and your waistline is out to there due to the amount of time spent inside this winter, look no further for the diet that is sure to get you back in spiritual fighting shape.

From the bestselling author of all time comes an exercise-diet that is not only guaranteed to get you on track for healthy living, but to also know the path to eternal life – the bread and water diet. It may not be what we want, but it’s definitely what we need.

Despite the great blessing all snow and rain this winter was meant for our region, the weather has created the potential for us to become sedentary, perhaps even in our worship life. So, what better way to jump start our faith walk than by feasting on the bread of life, who also offers us living water, as told through two important stories from God’s word.

After ministering to great crowds around Galilee and beyond early in his ministry, Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount before his disciples. Included in this teaching was his introduction of the Lord’s prayer and the fourth petition where Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) But what does this really mean?

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, Jesus told his disciples, “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world,” (32) ... “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” (35)

Accordingly, we can know, with authority, that God hears our prayers and invites us to pray to him for those things we need. In this way, we can be comforted and joyful in our father’s sovereignty, knowing that above all his grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

However, even after his own baptism in the water of the Jordan River and his subsequent journey into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil, Jesus teaches that it is not enough to have our daily needs/bread delivered. In fact, it was after evil one’s first temptation, where he coaxed Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread, that Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

Here, Jesus quotes Moses' explanation of why Israel had let them hunger in the wilderness, reminding us that life does not depend on food alone. In this way, he sublimely speaks to when we also thirst and how it is quenched through the living water he provides to grant us spiritual nourishment. This is poignantly told through the story of the woman at the well.

In this story, John 4:4-14, Jesus engages a Samaritan woman in conversation, which was notable in that Jews did not typically speak with Samaritans. Through this long conversation, she gleans Jesus' identity as the Messiah and his love for all, regardless of their social standing.

The intentional irony of the setting and Jesus’ teaching was the juxtaposition of the well before them and Jesus’ lesson on the water of life. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Touched in that moment by Jesus’ words, the Samaritan excitedly left her water jar to share the good news of Jesus. In this way, she becomes a witness for Jesus, proclaiming the living water through Jesus Christ, and in the process becomes a fisher of men.

And so, while we petition our Lord for his daily provision, may it be that we graciously receive our daily bread so that we can share the good news of the living water of Jesus Christ so that others may hear the good news of the Gospel.

This is the essence of Jesus' great commission, which calls us to baptize all nations in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit, which is advanced by those seeking to proclaim him, using these significant spiritual staples in their lives.

So, friends, let's shed some of that winter weight that hinders by eating and drinking of the redeeming bread and water that gives eternal life. I’ll take a slice of sourdough, with a glass of ice water and lemon.

Brian Underwood is head of mission outreach & development at Sierra Lutheran High School.


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