The Hunger Games: Peeta and the Bread of Life
Peeta Mellark’s family had enough to eat. They were bakers and always had fresh bread to eat. They were the lucky ones though. People around them were starving to death. Times were tough in District 12 where they lived. So tough that Katniss Everdeen had been looking in trashcans, desperate to find anything to eat—with no luck.
Katniss had no hope left. She collapsed, resigned to give up. Her mother and little sister were at home, starving to death as well, waiting on Katniss to come home with something to eat, something to keep them alive. But Katniss had nothing—she had nothing to trade and no money to buy, and even the trash cans were empty…offering her nothing. She was so poor and dirty she wasn’t even able to walk into the bakery for a look.
Peeta saw her and had compassion on her. His mother had just scolded her for looking in the trashcans, so he knew how she would feel about giving Katniss something from the bakery. She wouldn’t even let Katniss look for something in the trash, she surely wouldn’t let her have something fresh.
The next thing Katniss knew, Peeta’s mom was yelling at him to feed something to the pigs. The fat pigs ate better than she did. Only, Peeta didn’t feed it to the pigs. Peeta, with a swollen, disfigured face that had obviously just been beat, slyly brought her two loaves of bread.
Katniss realized that Peeta had “accidentally” dropped two loaves of bread into the fire so they were partly scorched. His mother was furious and gave him a nasty black eye, but she also deemed the loaves unworthy of sale and demanded he give them to the pigs. It was all in his plan to help save Katniss, to bring her bread she needed to survive. He laid his own well-being aside for her sake.
This was a turning point for Katniss. She had, till then, been in such despair that she was on the point of giving up. She simply wanted to die. She had no hope. She had the burden of providing for her little sister and her mother, and she had no idea how to go about it. Life was overwhelming, and she was all alone.
At least she felt all alone, until Peeta and the bread. Someone saw her. Someone was willing to help her, even at great personal risk and pain. It was a blessing in two ways; it renewed her strength both physically and mentally/emotionally.
The following day, with a renewed outlook on life, a little glimmer of hope, Katniss noticed a dandelion. That doesn’t seem like such a big deal to most of us, but it was significant for her. Her father had taught her that you could live on Dandelions – they are edible. This is a huge realization for a family who is starving, when dandelions grow naturally and abundantly. Katniss knew they were going to be OK. Her father had taught her how to find food for herself in the wild. She could gather edible plants and hunt rabbits, etc. They would survive.
The dandelion may have been what sparked the long-term solution, but it was that gift of the two loaves of bread that turned the tide. In fact, for Katniss, the two seemed inextricably linked. She said, “To this day, I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope, and the dandelion that reminded me that I was not doomed.”
There is so much in this story for us as believers, so many applications, but the one I want to focus on is how Peeta resembled Christ. Peeta saw the signs of starvation and hopelessness in Katniss. He had compassion on her. He knew that if he didn’t do something, she (and her family) would die. So, he sacrificed himself to give life-saving bread to Katniss. He knew what it was going to cost him—he knew his mother wouldn’t approve. But he willingly took that beating from his mother, from someone he loved, so that he could offer food, salvation and hope to Katniss.
How very like Jesus. Jesus was in the comfort of his home in Heaven, but he looked down on earth and saw that people were without hope. They were starving…WE were starving. We were starving for love, for hope, for forgiveness for our sins. We had a spiritual poverty every bit as real as Katniss’ physical poverty.
Did you know that Jesus called Himself the bread of life? In John 6:33- 35, He says, “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world … I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Since Jesus is the bread of life, and was in heaven, you could almost say that Jesus, like Peeta, was living in the bakery. He saw people starving for the bread that He had and wanted to bring it to us. However, there was a problem. We, just like Katniss, had no way to purchase the bread. We had nothing to offer. (I’m speaking in the past tense here, but the same is true now. We still have nothing to offer. That hasn’t changed.)
Our sins made us every bit as dirty on the inside as Katniss was on the outside. We not only had nothing to purchase bread with, but we also so filthy, we weren’t even allowed to enter into the bakery. Jesus had to leave the bakery and come down to earth. He had to come to where we were, because we couldn’t get to where He was.
Peeta paid for that bread that he gave to Katniss with his own flesh. He paid for it when he took that beating.
Christ paid for the bread that He gave to us with his own flesh too. Only it cost Him His very life. He says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51—emphasis mine). Jesus knew what it was going to cost him to give life-saving bread to you and me. He gave it willingly. He paid the price for that bread with his life. There was no other way. Our sins had to paid for. The bread had to be bought with a price…though He gives it to us for free.
Did you notice what Katniss did with the bread? She gave it to others. She accepted the bread from Peeta, then shared it with her mother and her sister. They were both saved as well.
That’s how it is Jesus gives Himself, the Bread of Life to you and to me. He gives Himself to us that we may share Him with others. When we do, others are saved as well. Remember the woman at the well? When she found Jesus, she immediately went and told the town about Jesus—she shared her bread. John 4: 39 says, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”
Katniss said, “I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope, and the dandelion that reminded me that I was not doomed.” This is the beauty of Jesus; it’s what He offers. If you are willing to take what He offers, you are not doomed. He brings hope. He is perfectly able to meet all your needs—those immediate, those long-term, the physical, the spiritual, the mental and emotional. Jesus meets your needs, and the Bible promises that when you come to Him, you will be satisfied.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live. (Isaiah 55:1-3)
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you ever felt all alone? Have you ever had the pressure of feeling like others are depending on you…and you can’t bear the load? Has someone ever come alongside and offered you help, like Peeta did to Katniss?
- Those loaves were a turning point for Katniss—she found a way to survive on her own after that. Have you ever had a time where a simple gift helped turned the tide in your life?
- Does the scene where Peeta accepts a beating so that He can offer bread to Katniss make you think any differently about what Christ went through to bring you the Bread of Life?
- That bread was free to Katniss, but do you think she appreciated it more when she realized what it cost Peeta? Do you take Jesus’ bread for granted, or do you realize what it cost Him?
- Have you accepted the Bread that Christ offers?
- Katniss shared her life saving bread with her loved ones. Do you share the Bread of Life, Jesus, with those you love, knowing it could save their life as well?
Click here to read other Hunger Games inspired Devotions.
 Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. p 32.