A PIECE OF BREAD
(Translation of a Sermon preached in Afrikaans by Pastor CSJ Claassen in 1978 entitled: 'n Stukkie Brood.)

Bible Reading:
John 6: 31-35 Later Jesus added John 6: 47-51


The story that I am going to share with you is a true one written by Maruis Barnard which was published in February 1975 in the Reader's Digest.
It is the true Story of Saul a 16 year old Coloured Boy who had known only sickness and poverty all his life. Who on facing death had but one simple request.

Much has been written about the successes of Dr Marius Barnard and Dr Chris Barnard especially after Dr Chris Barnard had succeeded in performing the first Human Heart Transplant. Little has been heard of their failures. This is the story of one of their failures.

It was 7 o'clock on a Wednesday night when Dr Marius Barnard met Saul, his last patient to be examined while on his rounds in the Cape Town Groote Schuur Hospital.
Saul a small frighten figure was propped up in bed against four pillows, he due to undergo open heart surgery, the next morning.

Although 16 years old Saul weighed only 30 kilograms.
He was short of breath, his body and liver were swollen and his heartbeat was abnormally fast and irregular. The loud murmur at the apex of his enlarged heart confirmed the diagnois of cardiac disease in its late stages.

Saul was one of 8 children in a desperately poor family. The family lived in a pondokkie one of the thousands of wood and iron shacks on the wind blown Cape Flats.
All his life he had known only sickness. As a toddler he had contracted rheumatic fever - the cause of his diseased heart and shrivelled body. Schooling had been limited and he had been unable to play games with the other children. His clothes were hand me downs,

Toys were something that existed in another world. Ice-cream had never touched his lips. At night he shared his bed with his brothers and sisters. Mealtimes all too often found his Mother with nothing to offer the children but Bread. Can you imagine how lonely he was as he lay between those crisp white sheets in such unfamilar surroundings.

The next morning Saul was on the operating table anaesthetized and ready for the 5 hour Operation to replace his diseased mitral valve.
Later the task was done and successfully.
Saul was returned to the intensive care unit in a satisfactory condition.

No special problems were expected.
BUT
Later that night, Saul's blood pressure dropped and his blood circulation deteriorated.
After a further examination it became clear that the only hope of saving his life was to replace the other two diseased valves afterall.

Dr Marius Barnard went to Saul to explain that he would have to undergo another operation. Saul looked different now. He had a tube in his mouth which helped him to breath - but prevented him from talking. Splints to keep in place the plastic tubes supplying all the fluid nutrients and antibiotics to his veins and monitoring all his vital functions but which also restricted the movements of his arms.

Dr Maruis Barnard after examining Saul smiled at him and leaned over and asked him quietly: Wil jy iets se Saul ? (Do you want to say something ?)
The Boy nodded.
A nurse brough a piece of paper and pencil and in a scratchily almost illegible writing Saul scrawled his simply request: Stukkie Brood - A piece of Bread !

In the midst of all his discomfort and fear and the realization that he had to undergo another operation. Saul wanted the reassurance of the one comfort he knew. Just a Stukkie Brood - A piece of Bread !

It is not possible Saul, Dr Maruis Barnard whispered. You cannot eat before an operation. Afterwards Saul there will be plently of bread. Saul's condition was critical. For his first operation he had been anaesthetized in the anteroom. Now there was no time ! His eyes widen as they took in the strange sights that were confronting him. White sterile tiles, big overhead lights, weierd shiney machinery, masked strangers in green surgical gowns.

The team went to work quickly and soon it was up to Saul's own heart to take over its own vital functions. The heart was sewn up - a final check was made for any significant bleeding and the time came for the bypass machine to be disconnected. Switch off the pumps, the command came. Immediately Saul's heart rate slowed and the blood pressure dropped.
Switch on the artifical pump again the command came. Drugs were administered to improve the heartbeat. The pump was stopped a second time - Once again his heartbeat weakened and his blood pressure dropped ominously. The pump was restarted everything possible was tried to improved the heart action. For another half hour the pump went off and on, off and on. But each time Saul's heart failed to pick up its own life beat. Saul's heart had stopped !

He was brought to a Modern Hospital - the best in Africa - where he was tended by people who had trained long and intensively in their field. He was operated on with expensive complex equipement and valves worth thousands of rands had been placed in his heart.
In short we had given him the very best in knowledge and technique that our sophisticated Medical World had to offer. Yet we failed to fulfil his one simple comforting need:
A Stukkie Brood - A piece of Bread !

At this stage I want to remind you:
The Clock of Life is wound but once and no man has the power To tell just when the hands will Stop at late or early hour To lose one's wealth is sad indeed. To lose one's health is more. To lose one's soul is such a loss that no man can restore. The present only is own's own. So labour with a will and boast not of Tommorrows dawn. The Clock may then be Still.

All that little Saul wanted in that day was a Stukkie Brood - A piece of Bread for comfort !
And this world could not give it to him. Want are you putting your trust in to comfort you in that day. Remember:

Hebrews 9:27
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. (NIV)

Do you remember that old Gospel Tract:
It is not found in Wealth
The famous American millionaire Jay Gould had wealth in abundance and yet his almost last words were: I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth.

Not in Fame
Sir Walter Scott probably attained a fame excelled by none. Though he spent his life writing fiction, when he came to die, he wanted fact and said: Bring me the Book ... there is only one Book ... The Bible !

Not in Honour
Revered by more millions than any Human-being before was good Queen Victoria - Yet when questioned about Heaven she said:
By the grace of God and the all availing Blood of Christ, I'll meet you there !

Not in Position
One of the greatest of men who rose to a position was Lord Beaconfield yet he wrote: Youth is a mistake. Manhood a struggle. Old age a regret.

Not in Pleasure
The Author of the Hours of Idleness Lord Byron who revelled in pleasure all his days wrote on his last Birthday: My days are in the yellow leaf, the flowers and the fruit of life are gone. The worm, the canker and the grief are mine alone.

Not in Power
The name of Napoloen the Great stands prominent for power. Musing a lonely prisoner on St Helena he summarized thus: Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I founded Empires on force ! Jesus Christ alone founded His Empire on Love and today there are millions who would die for Him.

Not in Health
One of the greatest Physicians of modern times Sir Andrew Clark left his testimony to the true remedy thus: There is only one remedy for all the Spiritual diseases and that remedy is to be found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Not in Unbelief
Poor Thomas Payne cried out during his last moments:
O Lord help me. God help me Jesus Christ help me !

Voltaire said:
I am lost, I am lost. I wish I had never been born ! Colonel Charters said: I would glady give 30 000 Pounds to have it proved to my satisfaction that there is no such place as Hell.

Friend, what about you ?
On what are you placing your hope for the future: Wealth - Health - Power.

The day will surely dawn when all the best things of this world will be of no avail.
Will you call out in vain for:
A Stukkie Brood - A Piece of Bread like little Saul !

There is a Scripture that I would like to quote - but out of context:
Joshua 9:12
This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. (NIV)

Will this perhaps be true of the provision that you have made when you meet your Creator ?
Jesus said:
John 14: 6
Jesus answered: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)

Jesus is Our Bread of Life !
John 6: 47-51
47. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
48. I am the bread of life.
49. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.
50. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.
51. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (NIV)

Jesus is the only "Bread of Life" that will be able to satisfy in that day ! Don't wait until it is too late to call out for the only Bread that will satisfy you in your Day of need.
Turn to the Bread of Life - Jesus - today and make Him the Lord of your life ?
If you wish to enter the Kingdom of God you need to follow Him remember: He is the Truth the Life and the Way and no-one comes to the Father but though HIM !

AMEN

Pastor CSJ Claassen
Goldfields Revival Centre
PO Box 99
WELKOM
9460 SOUTH AFRICA

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