Opening thoughts: Was a great day today, I had some really good times meeting with people that love Jesus. This evening I met with a man from our church who just lost his wife of 13 years to cancer. It was sudden and totally unexpected. He is now left to survive with 3 little kids, 5 yrs, 4 yrs, and 1 yrs old. As I spoke with him, I could not help but catch a glimpse of the pain he must feel. Tears welled up in my eyes as I pondered for a moment the thought of losing my wife, and how would my little babies do losing their mommy? and what would I do as their daddy? How would I explain the loss to my 5 year old? How would I help them find the hope of the Gospel to not only save them, but also bring peace to their anguished souls?
His response was, “God is good, and if God is good in everything, I need to trust that I will see the good that He’s planned to come out of this for His glory. Losing someone you love is never good, but God is good”.
What a way to respond to such a tragic event, such loss. A response like that can only come from a heart that sees Christ as this amazing BREAD, a bread that we don’t deserve in the first place, yet He gives it to us. You see, even in the face of tragic loss and suffering, this bread can be all satisfying when we have the proper understanding of our original state, which is slavery to sin therefore being cut off from eternal life for all eternity. When we look through that lens, this BREAD always looks beautiful.
UPDATE: My friend is now married to a woman who loves Jesus, loves him and loves their kids.
The Escape Plan: The Israelites had been in slavery for 400 years, they were oppressed, beaten, and more. They had originally been lead there to be delivered from starvation during the famine, do you remember that story? Now, after 400 years of oppression they were ready for release from this slavery. or were they? Moses is sent to deliver them and through a major series of horrific events for the Egyptians, Pharaoh releases the people from his clutches.
Is This All We Have: I don’t have time to talk about the entire story and there are many more elements to their journey through the wilderness. So fast tracking this story a bit we find ourselves in the middle of the desert with over 600,000 people and one man leading them. God has thus far provided for them, but the conditions they find themselves in are grueling, so they complain.
Numbers 11:4-6 ESV …. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
I’m not sure about your experience was, but when I was growing up you could say we were on a tight budget. It was very tight, and many nights we ate cabbage as a main course. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but cabbage is not the most tasty dish for a 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year old. And on top of that, many of those nights we would have liver to go with it. To this day I shutter just thinking about liver and how my gag reflex kicked in the moment it touched my tongue. I remember my dad saying, “This is what the Lord provided for us, and we will be grateful”. I wasn’t grateful at all. I didn’t realize it then, but there was so much more in that statement then I realized.
In school I remember looking at the fancy juice boxes in some of the other kids luches and thinking “I wish I had a juice box like that, or fruit roll-ups”. Not only should I have been grateful for the provisions I had been given, but I also should have seen those meals as incredibly amazing, as life for my body that would otherwise perish without it.
In verse 6 when the Israelites say “there is nothing at all but this manna to look at”, literally what they were saying is “We are sick and tired of even looking at this food, the very sight of it is making us sick”. They could not stand the provisions that were given to them. They craved what other people had in their ‘lunch boxes’ and did not see there food as amazing, beautiful and life-giving. In light of there hardships they looked at that bread and said “Is this all”. It did not satisfy there appetite.
Appetite for the world: I find it very interesting that they started naming off in list form all the food that they had when they were fed by their oppressors. Not that there was anything wrong with that food, but to desire something else over what they had been given from God proves that they did not trust, cherish or desire God. He was not all they hoped for, trusted in and loved. In a similar tone we read in Numbers 21 the same people seriously grumbling about against God about the bread.
Numbers 21:5-6 ESV … And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
When I was a kid, I never said to my dad “I hate this food” that would have been committing suicide and I knew that. I understood the rules of life way to much to step out in front of that type of truck. But even though I didn’t say it, I thought it. I valued my life, but I did not value the sustaining source, which at the time was cabbage and liver.
The BREAD of LIFE: When I started reading my Bible tonight in the Gospel of Luke, I was lead over to John (in my cross study). While I was reading in John 6 my mouth fell open and I realized something very important! This situation has all happened before. Right now I’m begging you not to tune out, but to press in and read this next passage carefully with me. Let’s see how terrifyingly similar these stories are.
John 6:28-41 ESV … Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
Here we have the same nation, who was delivered from slavery so many years earlier and now we find them under great stress and oppression. They were suffering under an ungodly rule and were looking for the hope that the coming Savoir would deliver them. A world free from this oppression. There hope was that the Messiah would do this by destroying their enemies and setting all things right. This was their idea of how things should go. This was the way they interpreted the prophecies of the Messiah. But that wasn’t God’s plan.
This Isn’t the Kind of Bread We Like: In verse 31 they mention that their fathers ate the manna from heaven, suggesting that Jesus should prove through some type of work like that, that He was the Messiah (obviously they forgot how much their fathers complained about that food). Jesus then begins to explain how He is the bread and He did come from heaven. Then we see some of the most devastating words in the bible, “So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
This is not the type of bread they wanted. They wanted someone to lift them out of their situation, not tell them they needed to repent and trust alone in Him! After all it should be the Romans that repent right? Wrong. Jesus was once again offering this same nation freedom, but it was from a different type of slavery. A slavery that was brought on by their initial disobedience to God. And the freedom was through Christ’s shed blood and broken body, he was offering them Himself as BREAD. But when they looked at Jesus they grumbled because this isn’t what they were expecting for Bread. The result of rejecting the food type of bread is physical death, but the result of rejecting the Bread of Life is spiritual death
honestly have to say that when I read this text it makes me seriously examine my own life of fruit. When things get tough do I look at Jesus and say “He is good. This world will fail me, loved ones die, life happens and it doesn’t seam fair, but He is good and His bread is beautiful”. If you look at life and say to yourself, I can’t believe God is serving me this type of a life! I deserve better than what He’s been giving me. Then you cannot possibly see Him as your only hope, wrath remover, soul saver and life giver.
Conclusion: The only way that you will be able to look at Jesus in times of total loss and suffering and say “He is Good” is if you are able to see what you actually deserve. All of us deserve God’s just judgment, and His wrath as a result of our crimes against Him. If we can catch a glimpse of your wretched state, we will be on our knees begging for His life giving bread, and our appetite will only increase. If you want to know more about this hope in Christ, please send me a reply and I would love to talk about it with you.
Grace & Peace