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A 5 Minute Theology of Breakfast

Katy Morgan | October 15th 2019

What does breakfast have to do with the Bible? Judging by Instagram, the two go together rather a lot. I love seeing my friend’s Saturday morning photos of pancakes, pencil and her Bible’s open pages. Reading God’s word prepares us spiritually for the day, just as breakfast prepares us physically.

But that’s not all. There are ways in which the most important meal of the day can itself point us to God. Time to munch on some Bible breakfasts.

Breakfast #1: Frosted Flakes

In Exodus 16, we find the Israelites wandering hungry in the desert. They complain that they are going to starve to death. So God provides them with breakfast. Each morning a mysterious layer of edible flakes appears like frost on the ground. Everyone gathers exactly the amount they need for the day. By the following morning the leftovers are mouldy—but fresh manna has appeared. The same thing happens the next day, and the next, and every day the Israelites spend in the desert.

Deuteronomy 8 v 3 offers a commentary on this wilderness breakfast.

[God] humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Manna is a reminder that the people depend on God. They were hungry until he provided, and they need new provision every day—provision not only of food, but of God himself.

It’s the same for us. We are totally dependent on God. He sustains us so that we wake in the morning, and makes the sun rise to greet us. He makes the crops grow and provides us with the money to buy food. So, breakfast comes from God. Both waking up hungry and satisfying our hunger can remind us that we need him, and that he gives us what we need—not just food but, as anyone who reads their Bible in the morning knows, the very words of life.

Miraculous gifts of food continue to be a sign of God’s goodness as the Bible storyline goes on. But eventually disaster strikes. God’s people are taken into exile. Punishment for their serial disobedience has come.

Throughout the first chapter of Joel, famine is the metaphor that describes the devastation. All God’s good provision seems to have come to an end. 

And yet Joel promises that this period of hunger will not last for ever. 

Breakfast #2: First Feast

As a child I was indignant to discover that a wedding breakfast tends to happen halfway through the afternoon rather than first thing in the morning. Not really breakfast, is it? But it has this name because it is the very first meal you share as a married couple—just as a regular breakfast is the first meal you eat in the morning. A wedding breakfast signals a new beginning.

That’s the kind of breakfast God promises in Joel 2 v 23-24.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

Promises like this one also appear in Isaiah 25 and 55. One day, God will provide eternally, abundantly, for his people, and they will never be hungry again. This feast is also a sign of a new beginning, when God will pour out his Spirit on all people (Joel 2 v 28), make a new covenant with them (Isaiah 55 v 3), and put an end to death and disgrace (Isaiah 25 v 7-8). This feast is going to be the first meal of a new world.

The feast described in these chapters is not just a metaphor. Jesus was the one who would fulfil these big promises, and one way he showed it was through food. He made wine out of water and fed thousands with a few loaves. He ate with outcasts and sinners. He said that he was the bridegroom and that his friends were feasting in celebration. If you’d read the prophets, all this might have seemed rather familiar.

Then Jesus died on a cross. So what had become of the promises?

Breakfast #3: Fish with Friends

John 21 answers that question with a breakfast.

Early in the morning, the disciples are out fishing, without—so far—any success. A figure on the shore shouts to them to throw the nets out on the other side of the boat, and when they do so they make a huge catch.

“It is the Lord!” one of the disciples says (v 7). And he’s right. Jesus is back from the dead and, once again, he is providing food. They come into shore and find that he’s already grilling fish on a fire. “Come and have breakfast,” he says (v 12).

The risen Christ brings abundant food and then eats with his disciples. It’s the foretaste of the feast God promised. It’s a sign that Jesus really was who he said he was. He had defeated death, he had brought about a new covenant, and he would soon send his Holy Spirit. Jesus’ death and resurrection mean that all his followers will one day feast with him in paradise—just as Joel promised.

In the meantime, Jesus sat by the lake and enjoyed some fish with his friends. He didn’t just provide food: he provided himself. God was with them, not only in his words but in his very person. 

Breakfast #4: Breaking Bread

After breakfast, Jesus told Peter, “Feed my lambs.” Now it was Peter who was to be the provider. With the Spirit’s help, he would start the task of bringing God’s life-giving word to all those who would listen. Sure enough, in Peter’s first sermon, he quoted from the prophet Joel to explain that the Saviour had come. People came to faith and made a new beginning. It’s no surprise that “they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2 v 46).

So, here’s my recipe for the perfect breakfast. Feel hungry and remember how much you need God. Enjoy your food and thank God for his astonishing generosity. Open your Bible, feast on God’s words, and pray for help in sharing them. And, finally, look forward to the day when you’ll eat, together with all believers, at the wedding breakfast of our wonderful Saviour.

Katy Morgan

Katy Morgan is an Editor at The Good Book Company. She is a member of King's Church Chessington in Surrey, UK, where she lives. She holds a master's degree in classical Greek literature, and previously worked in a ministry role as part of a school chaplaincy.

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