The Bread of Jealousy – You Have a Purpose

 

Barley vs. wheat

While the Jews of Jesus time were capable of making breads of various grains, the two most common grains used were barley and wheat. Barley had a grainier texture and tasted a little bland while the wheat bread was softer and sweeter to the taste. In most cases, people preferred the flavor of the wheat, and would naturally gravitate to its choice over any of the other types, including and especially barley. So, when preparing the grocery list for the family, one might notice the wheat stores were highest in demand all year, so much so that it tended to run out before the next harvest.
 
Here’s where barley comes in to save the day. The barley harvest was generally three weeks earlier than the wheat harvest, and that caused folks to flock the markets looking for the less desirable barley loaves to “make due” until the wheat harvest came in. The barley loaves were meant to keep the belly full, more than pleasing the pallet. The rest of the year, folks would resort to the barley loaves when they were pinching pennies or feeding larger families with children. So, the barley got the nickname “Bread of Jealousy”, always wishing to be loved as much as the wheat.
 

The miracle from His hand

In John 6: 1 – 15 we find the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand. Did you ever notice that when He borrowed the little boy’s lunch it was consisting of 5 small barley loaves? Like I said earlier, sometimes parents would buy the barley to save money and fill the hollow legs of children, while probably – secretly – keeping a stash of wheat for themselves (kind of like your secret supply of chocolate).
In this case there is an entire crowd of Jesus’ children gathering, and remembering the Passover is quickly approaching, He feels the need to feed them. I find it interesting that in all the times Israel complained about God’s provisions for them in the desert, there is no complaint the bread they’re getting is plain barley and not the sweet wheat.
You know the story. He blesses the meal of barley bread and fish and then feeds the entire crowd… to the point the disciples gathered up 12 baskets of leftovers from the barley loaves. And, before you think the leftovers were from finicky eaters who turned their noses up, the Apostle John notes (John 6:12) the crowd was “filled” full… they all ate to being full.

Here’s one thing I find fascinating from this story. God is a master at using, what we would call, the lesser product for His amazing purposes through His wisdom and power.

 
Perhaps you feel like the lesser product, and you can relate to the “Bread of Jealousy” wishing to be loved as much as what you perceive to be the “preferred bread”. Usually, that’s because we simply can’t grasp the beauty of our own unique purpose. If there was no Barley Bread getting families through until the wheat harvest came in, then they would go hungry and Jesus would have had to find another food to make His miracle.
 
Remember, it wasn’t the wheat that received the miracle from His hand…it was the barley. So a note to all of us barley people… let’s let our Father in Heaven remind us that He has real and important purposes for us in mind.
 
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