Exodus 16:1-36, Matthew 4:1-4, John 6:22-40, 57-58
My wife and I joke that I can remember every meal I’ve ever eaten. While not strictly true, there are a few meals we describe as our “most memorable meals.” They’re not always the most lavish. They’re not even the best tasting. Sometimes it’s the company. Usually it’s the timing.
The week of 9/11 was dark. There was a heavy cloud of anxiety hanging high everywhere. Every news report and conversation turned on the terror of those attacks. It was suffocating.
But a meal helped.
The Friday following that Tuesday we went out for pizza with our neighbors, Bryan and Erika. We sat outside by the cobblestone road in Old St. Charles and laughed a little. I remember being thankful to God for His faithfulness when afraid.
For my money, the most memorable meal in the Old Testament is in Exodus 16. The Israelites are grumbling to Moses and Aaron, “You brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger” (v. 3). Though they have been miraculously freed by God, they are so hungry they wish they were slaves back in Egypt. God has consistently revealed His faithfulness to them but they are still afraid of dying of hunger.
What does God do? He sends food. Specifically, He sends bread, which probably tasted like duck confit to the hungry wanderers. Can you imagine what it was like to eat this provision—that basically came out of nowhere—after being so hungry? What did it taste like? What does God’s faithfulness taste like when you’re hungry?
It was certainly a “most memorable meal.” We are told they ate this bread until they went into the Promised Land. Some of the manna was even kept in the Ark as a memorial of God’s faithfulness.
Every Israelite knew about this “meal.” So when Jesus starts providing food out of what seems like nothing, the Israelites get excited and remember the memorable meal of manna. But Jesus knows they are only after food. He tells them, “I am the bread of life… No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will be thirsty again” (John 6:35).
Jesus is saying, I am the true and better manna. You see, the manna pointed to God’s faithfulness to His people by keeping them alive until they crossed over Jordan and went into the Promised Land. Jesus is the Bread of Life, saving us from our greatest problem—our sin— which separates us from eternal life.
If we are honest, we forget God’s faithfulness. The world grows dark. Fear and anxiety about our homes and the world at large cause us to doubt. What are we to do when this happens? Feed on the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
The manna was a meal pointing to Jesus, the Bread of Life. He is the meal that will satisfy forever. Not because He will fill our stomachs and extend our lives or take away all our problems, but because He has given His life to satisfy our great need for a Savior.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond