Toddler Theology: Bread of Life
Bread of Life
This post is the first published record of one of my new favorite pastimes: teaching our daughter about Jesus. As our little lady gets older, wordier, and curiouser, I often find myself trying to explain massive truths in simple terms. In the process, I have been delighted to have refreshed understandings of things much too easily fogged up by the grown-up stuffiness of my mind. I believe the Lord’s call for us to instruct our children in truth benefits the parents at least as much as the children! I hope you will also be refreshed to follow along.
At one point during our recent holiday travels, Ennelin’s little voice piped up from the backseat of the car to ask a question which had clearly been on her mind since the communion service at church on Christmas Eve.
“Mama, why do we eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood?”
I caught my breath a bit with this question, the topic so difficult and seemingly gruesome, it had turned away scores of followers in Jesus’ day (John 6). Ennelin’s sweet little voice seemed grossed out to even ask it. I sent up a prayer that the Lord would strengthen me to live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9, that the impromptu teaching we are called to as parents would hit its mark.
“Well, Ennelin, what do we know about God?”
“He loves us. Jesus died for us so we can live with Him instead of die.”
I searched my mind and it rested on a meditation I had been coming back to over and over throughout Advent and Christmas – that the first place Jesus was ever laid as an infant was a manger. Maybe its the English major in me, but my heart has been smote again and again to dwell on that truth: that the Father so intends for us to consume His Son and live, that He tells us with every part of His story. It is no mistake that Jesus was born into a feeding trough. I took a deep breath and prayed that the Lord would help me show her this truth in a way she could understand.
“So, God wants us to live forever with Him. What do we need to stay alive? We need food and water! …Can you remember a time you felt really icky because you were hungry or thirsty? Well, if you didn’t have food and water for too long, your body would lose all its energy and you would feel really tired. You could even die. So food and water are really important to help us live and grow strong, aren’t they?”
“Yeah!” I love how confidently she answers when she KNOWS.
“Do you remember about how Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden and disobeyed God?”
“Well, on that day God cursed the ground because of Adam and said that he would have to work really hard to get his food from the ground. But no matter how hard he worked, the food that grows on this Earth would never give him life forever. Because of sin, we would still die.”
Total quiet. Listening.
“So because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus into the world to save us from death and give us real life. And when Jesus died on the cross, He gave us a new food- a different food than we can grow from the ground. In the Bible, Jesus calls himself “the Bread of Life.” So taking communion is part of how we take Jesus into ourselves and feed on Him. Reading, learning and thinking about His Word, praying, and worshipping Him are more ways we can feed on Him. The same way eating food and drinking water makes our bodies strong to live in this world for a little while, eating and drinking of Jesus makes us strong to live for eternity.”
“Ooooh!!” Came the peal of delighted discovery. “I love to do those things!”
I couldn’t help beaming at her truthfulness. Lately, she has been asking to pray at many meals in addition to her own private prayer time (when she thinks I can’t hear), and I often find her singing worship songs of her own making during playtimes. She has been to three funerals in her short 3 (almost 4) years, so praising Jesus as our deliverer from death and disease is most sincerely in her heart!
This conversation edified and encouraged Derek and me at least as much as Ennelin. Remembering, in simple terms, the importance of consuming the Word and practicing it is vital to our health as Christians. The Lord wants us to be blessed, like the man described in Psalm 1, who meditates on the Word day and night and whose “leaf does not wither”. He teaches us to pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). More than just our physical provision, He teaches us to pray daily for our portion in Him. He stands before us, as He did with them, and says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:55-58) Let us renew our appetites for Him! Let our hunger and thirst be known to us, that we may evermore “Taste and see that the Lord is GOOD!” (Psalm 34:8)