Bread Of Life: Looking For Hope?

By Dr. James Orr,
Pyerian Baptist Church

I have always enjoyed traveling and seeing new places in the world. I have traveled for both work and pleasure. I have planned my itinerary and been dragged along at the whim of others. My tally of visits at this time is thirty-eight of the fifty states and thirty different countries on four different continents.
I have been exposed to cultures ancient and new, languages that still bewilder me, and surprising conversations with strangers on a vast array of subjects but the one constant I have found is that people everywhere need hope; a handle on the future. Nothing could be more truthful in the world we live in today. I would like to share just four of the many reasons that Jesus is the hope of mankind, both for those with an existing relationship with Him and for those whom I hope will come to know Him as I do one day.
First, He can calm life’s fears. As the covid-19 virus sweeps over the world like a tidal wave I am reminded that He is the master of nature. In Matthew 8:26 we read,…” “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” I made several trips to Sri Lanka, a small island nation devastated by the Indonesian tsunami. A wave literally rolled over the southern end of the country and within minutes over 30,000 people were dead. It was a horrific situation. After my initial emergency visit I went back a year later to aid in reconstruction. A man that had lost everything, including his bakery business, had received aid from a man who lost his son just weeks before. Jesus brought hope to both of these men. There is a bakery in a little town in Sri Lanka called the Bread of Life Bakery and each day it gives away thirty loaves of bread free to the poor. Jesus is in control.
Secondly, Jesus helps us face the impossible challenges of life. It may seem like the simplest tasks are impossible right now as things change around us, but Jesus remains the answer. Nothing could be harder that walking on water but Jesus made it happen for Peter. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
Now some of you will say that Peter grew fearful and sank into the storm. You are correct but that didn’t happen until he took his eyes off of Jesus. Up until then Peter’s walk was no different than a stroll in a park on a sunny day. We can allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by even a simple task like walking or we can keep our eyes on Jesus and tackle even the seemingly impossible task set before us. Jesus empowers us.
Thirdly, Jesus helps us set life’s priorities. Three of my grandchildren are living with my wife and I right now. Having them out of school and trying to find outlets for their energy is a challenge in itself. (see above, lol) However, I get to hug them each morning and sit down and help with science homework and maybe bake some banana nut bread or skin a newly caught catfish. You get the idea. I relish this time with them and I relish the time I get to tell them about Jesus. There were two sisters named Mary and Martha who at one time wanted to serve Jesus. Martha was traditional and only saw the world in front of her, Mary saw something different. She saw Jesus and the hope of the future that lay in Him. And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” There is nothing wrong with handling the realities of today, but we all know that many of these things are going to be there again tomorrow.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. Get up, brush your teeth, shave, shower, go to work, eat a sandwich, come home, sit in the recliner, eat dinner in front of the TV, go to bed, set reset and start it all again. In this mind-set life becomes a chore, a drudge. When we add Jesus, life becomes a joy. Each day is a step closer to eternity; each step is an opportunity to enjoy the gift of life. Jesus gives us direction, He helps set our priorities.
Lastly, Jesus changes life’s purpose. I’m a big fellow and I like to eat. Most of us do. As I said in the beginning of this article I have traveled a lot. That also means that I have tried a lot of different food. Roasted guinea pig, raw turtle eggs, bread baked with fish heads in it and some things that I still am not sure what they were. I have also had some fine foods; roasted lamb, beautiful salads, wonderful seafood, the list goes on. So it is no surprise that one of my favorite stories about Jesus is the feeding of the five thousand. I can’t imagine anything on this earth that would be better than bread and fish blessed by Jesus, but that’s not my favorite part of the story. My favorite part is when Jesus, God on Earth, surprises his disciples.
When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
Here is God in the flesh and he tells the disciples, “You feed them.” I believe that Jesus was setting the DNA, the template for His Church right there. Instead of running away, or shifting the burden, or excluding the world, I believe that he was giving us purpose. Work is not a curse. Adam and Eve were giving the job of tending the garden before they fell away from God. We are “created for good works.” Our good work aids, benefits, encourages those around us. But before you go off on a humanistic view of “pass it on,” remember the 5,000 were fed by the resources of Jesus. Jesus calmed the disciples’ fears by his presence, Jesus empowered the disciples to solve a crisis, Jesus reset their priorities on others rather than themselves, and Jesus gave them a purpose of service to others.
Yes, my friends, Jesus is our hope. Jesus is the today and the future of mankind. I am praying for our nation, state, and community; and I am praying for each of you.
Pastor James Orr, Pyerian Baptist Church