Bread From Heaven
-By Lee Jones
For those of us who grew up going to Sunday School, we know the story of the manna like the back our hands. The Children of Israel were hungry in the wilderness and so God gave them bread from heaven. They ate it, but if they collected too much, it would get nasty. Generally, the main takeaway you have as a kid is that miracles are cool and you shouldn’t be wasteful.
But thanks to God for the gift of the whole counsel of the Bible, we know the truth of
Exodus 16 goes much deeper, and it points directly to Jesus.
Here are the highlights of the chapter:
Verse 6 and 7 say the Israelites would see the “…glory of the LORD in the morning.” (Sounds a little like the morning of Jesus’ resurrection to me)
Verses 16-26 show God giving certain commandments about how to gather the bread properly: one omer per person. No more, except on the day before Sabbath, and no less.
Verse 18 tells us no one had any lack if they gathered the omer per person, and any leftovers rotted by the next day. That’s an echo of the petition for daily bread from the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus draws a true parallel between the manna in the wilderness and himself. Jesus is the better manna. A bold claim for sure, but an important one for us to understand.
All this was given during yet another period of grumbling in the wilderness.
Now we turn to Jesus, speaking in John 6: 25-51. The Jews grumble against Jesus in the passage (much like their Israelite ancestors), after his previous walking-on-water miracle and feeding the five thousand earlier in the chapter.
Despite all of that, Jesus draws a true parallel between the manna in the wilderness and himself. Jesus is the better manna. A bold claim for sure, but an important one for us to understand.
Manna sustained life for the wandering Israelites, but Christ gives life abundantly where there is death in sin (Ephesians 2:1-10).
People still got hungry later after eating manna, but Christ is entirely sufficient to satisfy spiritual hunger
Manna couldn’t keep people from dying, but Christ gives eternal life to those who feast on him (Verse 49, 50).
One more connection: people didn’t know what the manna was and they didn’t know who Jesus was. In Verse 42 they obscure the truth of Jesus’ teachings with his earthly family. They had no idea who and what he was. To them, he was every bit as mysterious as that bread that appeared on the ground overnight, but less than divine. May that never be said of us.
Instead, my prayer is that we do as Jesus said, to remember him, the breaking of his body and the pouring out of his blood, in the ordinance of communion. Let’s never forget that, in Jesus, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). The Bread from Heaven was broken and given to us, freely.
What a glorious thing.
Glory to God alone.