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Fact About Christ from page 11: Christ is the manna
I am the bread that came down from heaven– John 6:41
What is it? This is what the children of Israel first said about manna, the bread from heaven that God provided daily during the Israelites’ forty year sojourn in the wilderness after they left the land of Egypt. The children of Israel had a miracle every morning. For forty years, they not only saw, but even ate a miracle in the form of daily manna. When this story is referenced in Jesus’s presence, He called Himself the “true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). What more can we learn about Christ from this story? Let’s come to Exodus 16.
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.– Exodus 16:1-4
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’”– Exodus 16:13-23
Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.– Exodus 16:31
You would think that the children of Israel are grateful for their freedom from the oppression of the Egyptians, or that they would be able to trust the Lord who brought them out of Egypt with miracles and other displays of mighty power. Instead, we see that the children of Israel are just complainers! Already they are romanticizing their time in Egypt, where they sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full. In response to their ungratefulness, to their complaints and grumblings, God’s solution is at once a great mercy and also a great test. He says, “I am about to rain bread from heaven… that I may test them.”
The promised bread comes with the dew and is nothing like they have ever seen before, leading to their question, “What is it?” whence the name manna comes from. It is fine, flake-like, like frost, like coriander seed, white, and it tastes like wafers made with honey. It comes morning by morning, left after the dew but melting with the sun. They could bake it or boil it.
The gathering of the manna is another interesting phenomenon. Moses commands them to gather, each man, as much as he needs to eat, an omer apiece according to the number of people in their tents. When they go out, some gather a lot and some a little. Yet, when measured, they find that there is no excess for those who gathered much and no lack for those who gathered little! How does this work? Is it that each individual feels as if they gathered much or little, and yet they actually gathered the right amount? Or perhaps it is a corporate thing, that some would gather much, and some would gather little, but regardless, when all the manna is brought together, each one in the camp has their portion. Regardless, not only is the existence of the manna a wonder, the gathering of the manna is also a miracle in and of itself.
What does the New Testament say about it?
So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”– John 6:41
John records an extended dialogue between Jesus and the crowds shortly after he feeds 5,000 men with five loaves of bread and two fish. In this dialogue, Jesus makes a few statements, including “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35) and the one above, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Just as their ancestors once did―despite witnessing a great miracle, the Jews are just grumbling. In response to their complaints, God unveils His solution, already foretold through type: Jesus Christ, the true bread that came down out of heaven.
So what does this picture say about Christ?
Christ is living bread for us to eat daily. When it comes to mankind and our endless complaints, God answers with a simple question: “Have you tasted Jesus?” Taste as a sensation can be hard to explain in words. If you haven’t ever tasted something, you might look and say, What is it? Even if you have tasted it, you might find it hard to explain. It’s a miracle. The manna was fine, flake-like, like frost, like coriander seed, white, tasted like wafers made with honey. Christ as food is perfect, edible, freezes sin, pure, fruitful and growing, sweet and nourishing. The psalmist doesn’t even try to describe it and just says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Oh, do we see this? Have we experienced this? We can eat Jesus! Whenever we have a complaint, there is living bread to satisfy us.
What does this mean for me as a Christian?
Our experience of this could be thought of both in an individual aspect and a corporate aspect. When it comes to eating Christ, we need to eat every day. This is the test the Lord gave the Israelites. We can’t gather a lot and save it. Yesterday’s manna breeds worms and stinks. If we see this picture, we can see the value of setting aside morning times for the Lord. If you only gather a little bit, He won’t hold that against you. But every day, we should gather a portion of Christ to eat. No matter how long you’ve known the Lord, no matter how faithfully you’ve followed Him, or how much knowledge of the Bible you have, you still need to eat every day. The Israelites could boil or bake manna. We should learn many different ways to enjoy Jesus as the bread from heaven.
Have any inspirations or questions about the content of the article? Or do you just want to say hello and introduce yourself? We’d love to hear from all our readers! Leave a comment or send an email to email@example.com with the title of this post in the subject line. If you are burning to engage with us, but don’t know what to say, here are some questions that could be a help:
- Many of our complaints actually stem from a spiritual “hanger.” Have you ever experienced a problem you thought was so big simply go away once you received some spiritual food?
- What are some different ways you have used to enjoy Jesus as the bread from heaven?
- The psalmist says “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Sometimes we overthink the gospel, convincing ourselves that we are not qualified to answer all the questions a friend may have. Can you invite someone to simply “taste and see” this week?