They Recognized Him in the Breaking of the Bread

Luke 24: 13 - 49

Bread, usually made of whole grain wheat or barley flour, was eaten three times a day in Jesus' time.

So Jesus tells us many times that he is our daily bread, a part of every meal.

And he is our bread in the sacrament of Holy Communion, which we receive by his commandment.

Because we believe that Jesus instituted Holy Communion at a Passover supper, many Christians believe that the bread of communion should be unleavened.

But in the imagery of John, Jesus was crucified at the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered, so the bread he shared with his disciples was ordinary, leavened (risen with yeast) bread.

Modern Jews use matzoh for their Passover bread. In most countries it is baked by professional bakers under the supervision of rabbis in order to assure its purity. (You can find it in most supermarkets at the time of the Passover.)

But in Jesus' day, most Passover bread was baked at home. This recipe, from A Blessing of Bread, by Maggie Glezer, is thousands of years old, but it is still baked in modern-day Iran and Iraq. Many families have new back-yard clay ovens made each year to bake their Passover bread.

Iraqi Whole-Wheat Matzot

About 5 cups coarsely ground whole wheat flour

About 1-1/2 cups water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a very fine mesh strainer, sift the flour into a large bowl. Reserve the bran for another purpose.

Pour the water into the sifted flour and mix until a rough dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until it is smooth, adding flour or water to make a firm dough that can be easily stretched, but is not at all sticky and which does not stick to the work surface. Divide the dough into sixteen small balls.

Roll out and bake two to four matzot at a time, depending upon the size of your baking sheets. Using no flour, roll out each ball into the thinnest possible circle, about 9 inches across.

Place each matzah on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until it curls up at the edges and is browned and dry. Transfer to a rack to cool. Store in a large tin or an air-tight plastic bag.

Austrians make a bread leavened with eggs to eat on Holy Thursday, and some Scandinavian flat breads are leavened only with shortening.

The daily bread in Jesus' time was probably pita bread, made of whole wheat or barley flour. The bread of the Jews' flight from Egypt was leavened - they baked it before it had time to rise because they were in a great hurry.

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