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perfect-italian-pizza-picjumbo-com.jpgTHE WORKS!”  Or “MEAT LOVER’S SPECIAL”.  These were usually the pizzas I had been drawn to in the past.  Thick sauces, lots of melting cheese, yeasty crusts and tons of good stuff piled on top.  I was the girl who ate the pizzas usually reserved for the guys.  No sissy pizzas for me!

Then one day I was lunching with a friend at a wood fired pizza grill and told her I would split whatever pizza she wanted to try.  That’s when I was first introduced to the Margherita Pizza.  I’ve been hooked ever since.  

It sounded too simple to be good.  Just fresh tomatoes, sweet basil and mozzarella cheese.  But something about that combination on a great crust is absolutely delectable!  I’ve been enjoying that particular pizza for years now but only recently discovered its origin.

Apparently in 1889 Queen Margherita of Savoy was taking a tour of Italy and noticed the peasants eating a flat bread with colorful toppings.  Out of curiosity she had her guards bring her some and found this “pizza bread” quite appealing.  So a famous pizza maker, Raffaele Esposito, created a pizza topping in honor of the Queen.  He garnished it with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese in order to represent the Italian flag and named it the Margherita Pizza.  Imagine having a food named after you which people would still be eating over a hundred years later!

It sounded too simple to be good.

Always one to enjoy interesting and out of the ordinary questions, I was once at a party where we were all asked to name the food which we felt best represented us.  For some reason, “lasagna” came to my mind.  The rich sauce could represent my rich and varied life experiences.  The multi layers might reflect the different parts of my personality (A pastor’s wife once told me I was the wildest and yet most spiritual person she knew).  And yes, sometimes I can be a little bit spicy!

When I think of my husband I picture a big, thick steak.  Perhaps a T bone because he has these huge football player shoulders.  He’s solid and hearty yet tender.  There are no nuances or hidden flavors.  What you see is what you get.  Simple and substantial.  That’s him.

Cora Vaughn, the substitute grandmother I blogged about in a post last year, brings to mind a loaf of homemade bread.  Warm.  Soft.  Comforting.  Nourishing to both body and soul.  Interesting thought to equate people and food.

Jesus was referred to as both bread and wine.  That symbolism goes all the way back to the Old Testament.  God told Moses to have the table for the bread of the Presence built for the tabernacle and stacked with twelve loaves as a way to remind Israel of His gracious provision for all their needs. (Ex 25, Lev. 24)  Then later when JESUS appeared on the scene HE declared, “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry. . .”  (John 6:35).

In both Matthew 4 and Luke 4 Jesus says that man cannot live on bread alone (physical sustenance) but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (spiritual sustenance).  In the Lord’s Prayer He teaches us to ask him for our “daily bread” (strength and guidance for that particular day).  

According to God’s plan, He sent His Son to live for a time on this earth.  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

Three years after His public ministry began, certain ones broke that flesh, that vessel full of grace and truth.  Whips tore at divinity which had become flesh which had become our bread of life.  My favorite way to partake of communion is when a piece of bread is torn from a loaf because it seems so reminiscent of the tearing of the flesh that suffered in my stead.  

Whips tore at divinity which had become flesh which had become our bread of life.  

Several accounts are given in the New Testament of that last meal with his disciples where Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it saying, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you. . .” (I Cor. 11:24, Luke 22:19, Matt 26:26).  Each time I lay the wafer or the bread on my tongue I am humbled once again that He became broken so that I might be whole.

When Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me” I want it to mean more than taking bread that has been broken into my body.  I want to honor the breaking of that flesh by living in a way that is whole and free and strong and sustained because of the Bread of Life that is in me.

And then the wine.  Matt. 26:28, “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Of all the religions in the world, one distinguishing factor separates Christianity – the sacrificial blood of our Savior.  There is so much power in the blood of Jesus!  Symbolized all throughout the Old Testament with animal sacrifices, these acts were prophetic progression to the Cross and to the blood that saves, cleanses, sanctifies and secures our eternal destination.  I drink that cup with deepest gratitude.

I want to honor the breaking of that flesh by living in a way that is whole and free and strong and sustained because of the Bread of Life that is in me.

The prophet Isaiah told in clearest detail the events of Jesus’ crucifixion.  “But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds (stripes) we are healed.” (Is 53)  There is healing in the blood of Jesus for us as believers.  And there are times when I drink that cup just to remember that fact.

Years ago when we were living in Alaska, my mom called sounding defeated and desperate, asking me to pray for her.  She was scheduled to speak at a three day women’s event and was extremely ill.  She had prepared for weeks and in her current condition would not possibly be strong enough to travel out of state and minister.  I prayed with her but then the Holy Spirit impressed me to ask her to take communion.  

“Mom, do you have crackers and grape juice?” I asked.  “Yes,” she replied weakly.  “Then I want you to promise me when we hang up you’ll prepare and partake of the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus shed His blood for your healing and I feel if you do this He will honor your faith and restore health to your body.”  She agreed to do as I had asked and called the very next day to tell me she felt 100% better.  

Because of the POWER OF THE BLOOD she was able to share the BREAD OF LIFE!  Several hundred women had gathered, some with serious issues and deep needs which only Jesus Himself could meet.  Three different women at that conference shared with my mother wounds from childhood molestation which they had never before shared with anyone.  That flesh which was torn on the cross, that blood which spilled that day became the bread and wine which brought health and wholeness to three hurting daughters of God when they needed it.  

If  you eat a margharita pizza you may or may not think of the Italian flag it represents.  But the next time you partake of the body and the blood of our Lord I hope you remember all of the gifts and the goodness that are available to us because of this meal.  He IS the bread and the wine.