The manna of life

[Note: this is a lightly-edited version of my contribution my church’s Lenten devotions (see previous post), which I’m posting here as it has appeared on the church website today.]
 

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

The natural instinct of human beings is always to turn religion into Law; into rules for what we are to do or not do. From this follows the equally natural instinct to turn Jesus into a new Moses, giving a new Law to a new people of God, just as Moses gave the Law to the Israelites in the Old Testament.

This was the mistake that Jesus was addressing in this famous statement. He is speaking to members of the 5,000 who had been miraculously fed the day before, but who seemed curiously unimpressed by what they had experienced. After all, feeding 5,000 wasn’t much compared with Moses’ achievement in giving the Israelites “bread from heaven” (manna) to eat in the wilderness, was it? (vv.30,31)

Jesus retorts that his listeners have misunderstood both Moses and Himself. It wasn’t Moses who had fed the Israelites in the wilderness; it was God who had given them “bread from heaven”. And Jesus wasn’t a new Moses, sent to introduce a new Law for God’s people. Rather, he was the new manna, sent by God to give life to the world.

So what does it mean to “come to Jesus”, the bread of life, today? Jesus gives a number of clues to this elsewhere in this chapter: recognising that he has “the words of eternal life” (v.68), eating His flesh and drinking his blood in the Lord’s Supper (v.54), believing in Him as the one sent by God (v.29).

Word, sacrament, faith: the daily life of the Church and of us as Christians. Here is no new Law, given by a new Moses. Rather, here is new Manna, as we come to Jesus and receive, as a gift, the Life that he came to give to the world.

Lord Jesus, may we come to you not as the new Lawgiver, but as the new Manna, the Bread of Life, whose Word satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst. Amen.

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4 Responses to The manna of life

  1. Steve says:

    Well put John!

    It is all about what He has done for us. What He still does for us. And what He will yet do for us.

    Word and sacrament. He continues to pursue us relentlessly.

    Keeo up the good work John!

  2. Steve says:

    That was…keep…up the good work, John!

  3. Grub says:

    Thanks John…

    I’m having a hard time right now…I’m trying to come out from the deeply rooted, outward-holiness, legalism of my early upbringing. This post helped me today…Thanks

  4. Thanks for visiting my place and for your kind comment.

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