Did he not say that? What he did say was “I am the bread of life”. Why wouldn’t he say ice cream?
Jesus said I am the bread of life and bread is eaten in lots of countries and lots of cultures. The French have croissants and baguettes; the Italians have pannini, focaccia, and ciabatta; the Middle East have pita bread. There is an amazing wealth and colour of breads, and bread is something we eat pretty much every day. Whether it’s toast at breakfast time, or sandwiches at lunchtime, or boiled egg for tea, with bread cut up really thin for soldiers to dip, we have bread every day – but not ice cream. And when there was a snow storm recently I went to go and get my groceries and do you know what there was nothing left of in the grocery store? Everyone had come and got ice cream! No – everyone had come and got bread. There was no bread on the shelves, and there was no flour on the shelves to make bread – there was still milk, but no bread. That’s what everybody wanted and everybody needed, because bread is a staple, and it feeds our physical hunger. God said that he would be the bread that would feed our spiritual hunger.
Sometimes I’m hungry for God in a “I’m famished – just feed me now!” kind of way. And sometimes I’m hungry for God in a “just a slice of cake with a cup of tea” kind of way – you know, just a bit peckish. And how I get fed is by reading the bible, praying, reading Christian books, coming to church – these are all God’s ways of feeding us. All of you have made the decision this morning to come and be fed by God, and I want Jesus to be your bread of life, your every day bread – not the ice cream of life, saved just for special occasions.
We wanted to also get everyone thinking about how food engages all the senses – especially the sense of smell. And so we set up a “smell test” with various foods in covered cups, the idea being that everyone got to have a sniff, and they then had to guess what was in there (we used orange, onion, banana, coffee, vanilla, and ginger). They didn’t do too badly, on the whole, but none of the smells were as strong or compelling as that of freshly baked bread.
The smell of bread cooking wafts throughout the entire house and always gets our mouths watering, and us longing for a thick slice, covered with butter – just the thing to ease our hunger and cravings. And, in the same way, following the teachings and example of Jesus eases our hunger and craving for God.