Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand

Quotations about Bread — fodder for sermons on John 6:1-21

Bread is so elemental! Issues about gluten aside, bread has long been regarded as the staff of life. Loaves of bread appear frequently in the Bible, from Jesus’ first temptation to his last supper. One of the best known of Jesus’ miracles is that he fed hungry crowds — 5,000 people or more — by multiplying loaves of bread. Over the years I’ve gathered quotations centering on bread, and share them with you below. I hope they are helpful fodder for those meditating on, or preaching about, the miracle of Jesus’ feeding the five thousand.

A note about context: The RCL Revised Common Lectionary for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost (July 25, 2021) is John 6:1-21. Parallel accounts are found in Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44 and Luke 9:10-17. In three of the gospels (all except Luke) this miracle is immediately followed by Jesus walking on water.

Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.  (Ursula K. Le Guin)

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. (Nelson Mandela)

Jesus ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts. (Mark 6:8)

It is not accidental that all phenomena of human life are dominated by the search for daily bread – the oldest link connecting all living things, man included, with the surrounding nature. (Ivan Pavlov)

Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? (Matthew 7:9)

The question of bread for myself is a material question, but the question of bread for my neighbor is a spiritual question. (Nikolai Bordyaev)

At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, and eat some of this bread, and dip your morsel in the sour wine.” So Ruth sat beside the reapers, and he heaped up for her some parched grain. She ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. (Ruth 2:14)

Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. (Woodrow Wilson)

All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength. Look, O Lord, and see how worthless I have become. (Lamentations 1:11)

Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread. (Thomas Jefferson)

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

Give me, Lord, my daily bread, I will get my own brandy. (Yiddish proverb)

But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! (Luke 15:17)

You shall find out how salt is the taste of another man’s bread, and how hard is the way up and down another man’s stairs. (Dante Alighieri)

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow. (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites and say to them: After you come into the land to which I am bringing you, whenever you eat of the bread of the land, you shall present a donation to the Lord. (Numbers 15:17-19)

I came into music just because I wanted the bread. It’s true. I looked around and this seemed like the only way I was going to get the kind of bread I wanted. (Mick Jagger)

The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  (Matthew 4:3)

Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. (Job 42:11)

Whose bread I eat: his song I sing. (German proverb)

Here is our bread; it was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey, on the day we set out to come to you, but now, see, it is dry and moldy. (Joshua 9:12)

I sing the song of the person whose bread I eat. (French proverb)

I am the bread of life. (John 6:48)

I thought about that the other day after I went to the grocery store and had to sign fifteen autographs before leaving. On one hand, it’s just so flattering. On the other hand, sometimes it would be nice to get the bread and leave, you know? (Clay Aiken)

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:34)

So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. (Genesis 21:14)

If the poor overweight jogger only knew how far he had to run to work off the calories in a crust of bread he might find it better in terms of pound per mile to go to a massage parlor. (Christiaan N. Barnard)

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart. (Psalm 104:14-15)

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? 

The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?  (1 Cor 10:16)

Nevertheless the meaning is not that the blessed bread which is divided, which is offered, and which the apostles received from the hand of Christ was not the body of Christ but becomes the body of Christ when the eating of it is begun. (Martin Chemnitz, 1522)

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

The American people are sheep. They’re comfortable, rich, working. It’s like the Romans, they’re happy with bread and their spectator sports. The Super Bowl means more to them than any right. (Jack Kevorkian)

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.” (Genesis 28:20-22)

The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry. (Simone Weil)

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:17)

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. (Mother Teresa)

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (Psalm 37:25)

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. (Mohandas Gandhi)

Grain is crushed for bread, but one does not thresh it forever; one drives the cart wheel and horses over it, but does not pulverize it. (Isaiah 28:28)

When you share your last crust of bread with a beggar, you mustn’t behave as if you were throwing a bone to a dog. You must give humbly, and thank him for allowing you to have a part in his hunger. (Giovanni Guareschi)

As the widow was going to bring the water, Elijah called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” (1 Kings 17: 11)

Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. (various attrib.)

My heart is stricken and withered like grass; I am too wasted to eat my bread. (Psalm 102:4)

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms  to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  (Viktor Frankl)

Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32)

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex? (Julia Child)

And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread for yourself. During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred ninety days, you shall eat it.  (Ezekiel 4:9)

There would have to be bread, some rich, whole-grain bread and zwieback, and perhaps on a long, narrow dish some pale Westphalian ham laced with strips of white fat like an evening sky with bands of clouds. There would be some tea ready to be drunk, yellowish golden tea in glasses with silver saucers, giving off a faint fragrance. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  (Isaiah 55:2)

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul. (the Koran)

The best advice one can give to the hungry is bread. (Italian proverb)

Stan: Dude, dolphins are intelligent and friendly. Cartman: Intelligent and friendly on rye bread with some mayonnaise. (South Park)

He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  (Deuteronomy 8:3)

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten.” (Exodus 13:3)

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. (Aesop)

And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.” (Exodus 16:8)

If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. (Muhammad Ali)

The ravens brought Elijah bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the wadi. (1 Kings 17:6)

Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt. (George Herbert)

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink. (Proverbs 25:21)

I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief, need friends.  (William Shakespeare, King Richard II)

The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?”  (Matthew 15:33)

I don’t preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Now is that political or social?” He said, “I feed you.” Because the good news to a hungry person is bread. (Bishop Desmond Tutu)

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)

There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. (M. F. K. Fisher)

After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”  (John 13:27)

Eating the bitter bread of banishment. (William Shakespeare, King Richard II)

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” (Luke 4:3)

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:35)

Once you’ve cut the bread, you cannot put it together again. (Latvian proverb)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Bread and salt never quarrel. (Russian proverb)

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. (John 21:9, 13)

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (1 Corinthians 11:17-18)

We did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:8)

Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back. (Ecclesiastes 11:1)

I cast my bread on the waters long ago. Now it’s time for you to send it back to me, toasted and buttered on both sides. (Jesse Jackson)

When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor’s gift. (Maya Angelou)

People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned. (James A. Baldwin)


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