We all are familiar with the story of the exodus.
After their time of slavery in the Egypt, Moses gets the pharaoh to let the Jewish people go free (after a little of persuading in the form of Blood, Frogs, Bugs, Wild Animals, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locust, Darkness, and Death). And off they go.
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
Now you have to figure after bringing down those ten plagues God was a little bit tired and needed a rest, but the Israelites would hear nothing of that. Come on God, what have you done for me lately?
The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
So, what did God do for them?
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day…. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.”
Let me say one thing, have you ever notices that when you have food while hiking, or while on a campout, it always tastes better than is should? We used to eat freezed dried food while backpacking and we loved it, but if we ever tried to eat the left over packets when we got back home, they were disgusting. I have to believe that this bread that rained down from heaven was sort of like this. Maybe not but good chance that it was not Mountain Harvest sour dough.
That is probably a bit off topic. The fact is that the people were starving, and God provided all the bread that they needed. Not only did he provide but he directed them to go out each day and to gather enough for the day.
Just imagine, here you are led into the desert without enough food and God decides to rain down the bread that is necessary for you to survive.
This story, in exodus 16:1-19 is the first biblical reference to the “Bread of Life”. And there are three important elements to this story: 1. God’s people are in need, 2. God provides what they need and 3. All that they have to do is receive. There are two other elements, that are sort of a given, first that God loves them so much that he wants for them to live and two without this love, this bread, they will die.
Today’s gospel is another biblical reference to this life giving bread. “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.
Jesus did this a lot in his teachings, he would take something that his audiences was very familiar with and would turn it around. Every single person that was sitting there listening to him knew the story from Exodus16. The story was sitting on the scrolls in their temple. They all knew that everyone from the time of the Exodus was dead but what was this bread that we could eat and not die? The Samaritan woman at the well knew the stories about Jacob digging the well and she knew that it had been providing water to her people for generations but what was this water that Jesus was offering that would mean that you would never thirst again?
The answer was simple and not so simple; “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
Just like the manna from heaven, with this new living bread God knew that His people are in need, that we are in need. God loves us so much that He wants to provide us with exactly what we need. And all that we have to do is gather up what we need for the day, or the week, or to overcome difficulties, or to gain strength to help one another.
It just falls from heaven, is transformed on the altar and sits here in the tabernacle waiting for us to gather him in.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.
Jesus said to the crowds:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
May 5, 2022
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