John 6. It was around the time of Passover, in a place on Galilee Sea’s far side where grew “much grass.”  The flock was large (over 5,000), so intent on following the Shepherd that almost none had brought food.

And Jesus posed a question, to one of His disciples:

Where shall we get bread for them?

No idle remark, this, nor bread’s mention simply literal…

After collecting a tiny amount of barley bread, He made them lie down in green pasture — as in Psalm 23. (The Greek word in John 6:10 usually translated “sit” actually means recline. In the prevailing Roman culture people reclined to dine.)

They broke the bread, and it multiplied as they gave it to the people, there on Galilee’s hillside. The people partook and were satisfied, and abundance was left over.

Then after this miraculous feeding, He told them the most vital bread they needed:

“The bread come down from heaven.”


I am the bread of life.”

Sometime later, while His smaller flock “reclined at table,” He took bread again and broke it, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Take, and eat.”

The broken Word become the food to satisfy with Eternal life.

But why did He make His sheep lie down?

Sheep need to ruminate.  The sheep that doesn’t, remains in want. Without the ruminating, its body makes no use of what’s taken in. It just accumulates there, useless, and that sheep, though full of food, is dying slow death from malnutrition.  For sheep, like cows and goats, have more than one “stomach.”  The first receives food as a storage tank—a personal food bank, from which deposits must be withdrawn for use.

And sheep need to lie down to ruminate. After racing or grazing, it’s time to stop, recline, withdraw nourishment from the inner pantry, and chew.  Chew it up, swallow it back down, where, processed, it can send out nourishment to strengthen and give fuel for action.

So He bids us (and sometimes makes us) “lie down,” stop and rest, that we’ll not just take in spiritual nourishment, but also gain the good of it

…and not start dying from the inside out.

I need to find time — correction: make time — to get still and ruminate on the bread of life. 

Taking time in the coming days before we observe the Good Shepherd’s laying down of His life for the sheep. Making time. It’s essential.

[Edited page from the archives.]

Ruminating today on these reasons, in all He is, to worship Him:

79 – He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

80 – He laid down His life for his flock, his “sheep” (John 10:11)

81 – He supplies their need so they will not be “in want” (John 6:5-13; Psalm 23:1)

82 – He can multiply bread mightily (John 6:8-13)

83 – He walked on water (and it wasn’t ice!) (John 6:19)

84 – He gives food that doesn’t perish, but endures to everlasting life (John 6:27)

85 – He is the true bread from heaven (John 6:32-35)

86 – He restores souls (Ps 23:3)

87 – He leads His own in the paths of righteousness (Ps 23:3)

88 – He is present with His own even through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Ps 23:4)

89 – His rod and His staff comfort His “sheep”

90 – He prepares a table even in the wilderness for His own, even in their enemies’ presence (Ps 23:5)

91 – He makes their “cup” overflow (Ps 23:5)

92 – He causes goodness and mercy to follow His own all the days of their life (Ps 23:6)

93 – He enables His own to dwell in His house forever (Ps 23:6)


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7 thoughts on “Reclining “at Table” for Shepherd Bread

  1. Thank you. Thank you for using your gifts to serve the Lord with this blog. It is such a blessing! This reminder is like water to my soul. Austin was gone for 10 days and I have needed to ruminate, which I finally had the chance today. But it’s so easy to feel guilty about needing rest. How crazy is that!? So thank you.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful post! I never realized the sheep could be full and yet malnourished. And I love the list of verses you shared. You’ve given me much to meditate on throughout my day. Blessings!

  3. Oh, Laura, your comment gives me such joy! And here’s why: Our posts watered each other’s souls at the same time, and in a similar way! “Soothing ointment,” I think I said about yours. This is the essence of Christian fellowship and body life –His Spirit working through the various members to refresh and build up each other, and the whole body. What a blessing! May you have a special day in His presence! So glad you visited and commented!

  4. Dear Sylvia,

    What you and Laura communicated to each other is just what I feel today. When I went to my e-mail inbox and saw “The Syvr Pen” first on the list of receipts I cried out with in my spirit, “Yes.” because I knew you would have a word for me to start my day. You will never know how timely this was even if I tell you, which I am going to do.

    Yesterday I was going to print off a copy of Ann Voskamp’s printable about the Easter meal and then I read through it and it said about how the people reclined to dine. I did not make the print-out based on that alone. I thought, “My sons will never dine reclining so I might as well ditch this whole thing.” Can you believe this? THEN

    I come here this morning and read this whole post on the importance of reclining and why that particular step in the process is important. Well, I’m going right back over to A Holy Experience and getting my printables in order today.

    I am so very glad I know you. We really must meet someday. You will never know how much you bless me every single day. Today was just one of many. And I’m with Renee, too. I love the verses at the end so I can extend my study and ruminating.

    Much love,

  5. And thank you, Renee! Again I see reciprocal blessing! So glad if this gave you something to meditate on today, as I meditate on your words about prayer. God bless!

  6. Hi Dawn,
    Thanks, friend. 🙂
    I’ve got to admit, though, I’m still pretty unlikely to recline at table, and maybe even have a seder like I’ve often considered — let alone try to get anyone else to recline when they eat. (Around here we get messy enough! heh-heh) Especially after reading the reminder of important truth from Galatians in Laura’s post (see comment above for link to Beholding Glory)! The value in literal reclining, methinks, lies in its metaphoric reminder that we need to rest in Him, and to allow Him to work in us instead of striving in the flesh, and to give ourselves time and opportunity to digest and absorb the Bread of Life that He feeds us through His word. If any of those concepts come through in the action-picture of reclining, it would be most valuable! Blessings!

  7. I’ve been struggling with waiting, and was led, via the Faith Filled Friday Blog Hop, to read your post. Lately, I am certain my days are filled but not with the right things, and I don’t want to die of malnourishment, like a sheep. What a vivid lesson. Thank you.
    Peace and good to you.

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