I love food. I mean, what’s not to love? There’s the taste, the satisfaction, the variety, the smell (most of the time), and of course, the delight of something sweet and the sensation of something salty. (Blend the two, and I can hardly resist.) Then there’s breakfast food: eggs, bacon, pancakes, coffee. You know it must be a good thing if restaurants serve it all day long.
But I don’t think there is anything more delectable than freshly baked bread, do you? Pull a warm roll apart with your fingers, pop in a bite, and it will practically melt in your mouth. Appropriately, people often refer to the aroma of fresh-baked bread as “heavenly.” Jesus calls Himself the bread of life in John 6:35, after all. Truly, there is something heavenly about bread.
In John 6, after Jesus fed the five thousand with only a boy’s small lunch, the crowd begged to see him do it again. They wanted more bread, and I can’t say I blame them. I have a feeling it tasted delicious. Not to mention, the Jews knew the story of their ancestors living on manna in the wilderness, so if Jesus could provide bread in the same way, then they’d have reason to believe His crazy claims.
But Jesus doesn’t give in to their baiting. He takes the opportunity to point them to something better, and in doing so, He makes a connection between the manna God gave Israel and Himself. Jesus said to the crowd in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
How do you eat Christ’s flesh? Honestly, it sounds gross unless you understand that Christ is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Therefore, those who believe the words of Christ, in essence, eat His flesh.
“Come, buy, and eat!” says the Lord in Isaiah 55:1, even you who have no money. Come and have your fill.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isa. 55:2, ESV).
The Bible isn’t just a book. It’s nourishment for the starving soul.
The Manna Foreshadowed Something Better Than Bread
The Psalmist testifies in Psalm 119, “If your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92). Then he goes on, “How sweet your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey in my mouth” (Psalm 119:103). Coincidently, do you know what else tasted like honey? Manna. Exodus 16:31 tells us it “tasted like wafers made with honey.”
I love that God didn’t give Israel bland food but gave them something sweet to eat. Likewise, Christ’s words are not bland. They are the sweetest, most delectable feast, especially for the anxious, lost, or hurting soul. There is nothing better for us to consume than the living, breathing Word of God. It is a gift from the Lord intended for nourishment, enrichment, joy, and satisfaction while we wait for the return of Christ.
The truth is that we need Christ’s Words (and His presence) like we need food. Just as the Israelites consumed the bread of heaven daily, so should we daily consume the bread of life through a steady consumption of Scripture. Do you see the picture? Eat God’s provision, and you will live and be satisfied. Reject it, walk past it, or ignore it, and you will go hungry.
But the correlations don’t stop there.
The manna was miraculous. God supernaturally provided the manna; God also supernaturally provided the Scriptures. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The people gathered the manna daily. The Israelites weren’t allowed to collect a week’s supply of manna in one fell swoop. They were to gather what they needed each morning. Likewise, we can’t gather a week’s supply of God’s Word on Sunday. We need a daily intake. One “meal” every seven days is a recipe for malnutrition. Perhaps this is another reason the Lord told us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
The manna was near. The manna was right outside the Israelites’ tents each morning. When they walked out their doors, they had a choice to either gather it or trample it. We have the same choice with God’s Word. It’s consistently right outside our “tents,” sitting on coffee tables and available at the swipe of a finger. We can take the time to consume it, or we can walk right past it, ignore God’s provision, and starve our souls.
There was enough manna for everyone. This one blows my mind. Exodus 16:16 states that each person collected an “omer” of manna. An omer measured about six pints. If we use a conservative estimate of two million Israelites wandering through the desert, that means approximately twelve million pints of manna, or nine million pounds, fell from heaven daily. And get this: they never ran out. Just as there was always enough manna for everyone, so does God’s Word never run dry.
The manna was gathered first thing in the morning. I love that gathering the manna was a morning chore. There is nothing wrong with evening devotions, but there is something about starting the day with Scripture that sets my path straight. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33).
The manna revealed God’s glory. Moses told the Israelites concerning the manna, “In the morning you will see the LORD’s glory” (Ex. 16:7). And so, the glory of God came forth in the Wilderness of Sin with the sweet provision of manna. And to this day, the glory of God continues to shine through the sweet provision of God’s Word in a vast oasis of sin.
The manna was preserved. God commanded Moses and Aaron to preserve two quarts of manna in a jar for future generations. What a beautiful picture the preservation of manna provides. Just as Scripture has stood the test of time, reminding each new generation of God’s grace, so was the manna a continuous reminder of God’s grace to each new generation of Israelites.
Do you see how gracious God is? Not only has He provided the nourishment we need for life (and godliness) through the richness of His Word, but He’s also modeled for us how to use it through the provision of manna. Gather it, consume it, enjoy it, live by it, and then do it again the next day!
My friend, just as we will suffer from malnutrition if we do not eat nutritious food, so can our souls suffer from malnutrition if we do not consume the Word of God. Trying to live your life without a regular infusion of Jesus is like trying to live your life without food. It’s a terrible idea and something we should never do on purpose. Yet that’s what we do—we starve ourselves—when we don’t spend time meditating on Scripture.
Beloved of God, there is a feast awaiting you in the delightful words of Scripture. It isn’t bland—it’s sweeter than honey, and it’s life-giving. Nourish your soul with the true bread of heaven—the words of Christ written down for our consumption—and experience the soul-quenching satisfaction only God can give.
Come, buy, and eat what costs you nothing, but cost Christ everything. The table is set with the finest cuisine. The question is, will you eat?