The True Bread from Heaven

As we studied yesterday, in response to their groaning and complaining about being hungry, God offered provisions for the Children of Israel. Manna and quail were given to the people for forty years until they reached the Promised Land.  Psalm 78:23 and following says, “God commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven; and he rained down upon them manna to eat, and gave them the bread of heaven. Man ate the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance…” This was nothing less than supernatural bread provided by God and sent from heaven. What could be greater than that? Read on…

Read John 6:32-35, 41-43, 48-51

Over the last few days, we have encountered passages related to Jesus as the New Moses who would bring a New Exodus. Two days ago we saw that Jesus institutes a New Passover. Today we will also see that Jesus feeds His followers with New Manna – the, “True bread which has come down from heaven.” This is demonstrated nowhere more clearly than the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel.

John 6 is packed with overtones from the Exodus. Consider for a moment these amazing typological connections. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus feeds a huge crowd by multiplying five loaves and two fish. There in the grassy wilderness, thousands were fed, and amazingly, there were twelve baskets full left over. Feeding the people miraculous bread certainly recalls the Exodus. Twelve baskets are reminiscent of the twelve tribes. It is no surprise that the people wondered if Jesus was the “prophet”. What Prophet might feed people with miraculous bread? Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18 may reveal the answer. In this passage, we discover that God promised to raise up a prophet like Moses…only greater (Hebrews 3:3)!

After Jesus’ feeds the crowd, what happens next? Jesus walks on the water of the sea. In the first Exodus, Moses walked through the water. But, Jesus, the new and greater Moses didn’t walk through the water. Jesus walks on top of the water. Jesus is, indeed, greater than Moses!

Realizing that Jesus has crossed to Capernaum, the people get into boats and follow him there. Jesus discerns that they have come for more of the miraculous bread. So, He instructs them not to work for food that spoils, but rather to seek food that endures to eternal life. Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Imagine the gall of this. Less than twenty four hours before thousands had been fed miraculously with five loaves and two fish. Yet, they still ask Jesus to show them a sign. Just beneath the surface of their statement lies their true intent. They believe Jesus is the New Moses. The New Moses would give them “daily bread,” like Moses fed the Israelites manna. That’s why they say to Jesus, “Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” The New Moses was about to teach them about a greater manna. The first manna only sustained the physical lives of those who ate it. The New Manna would be for spiritual sustenance! In John 6:48 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

It was Passover when Jesus fed the five thousand and taught them about the new and greater manna. One year later, again at Passover, the disciples gathered in the upper room and there, Jesus echoes what he taught the crowd in John 6. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body, given for you” (Luke 22:19).  That night, they received the bread that comes down from heaven…only this time it was not from the angels, but from Jesus, Himself. The manna in the wilderness was a type or prefiguring of the true bread that Jesus came to offer. There is a Scriptural principle that applies here. No type is greater than its fulfillment. We have already established that the manna of the Exodus was supernatural bread. What kind of bread was Jesus offering the Disciples, and to us? If the Biblical axiom is true, then the bread we share at His Table is greater than the manna in the wilderness.

What makes the New Manna greater than the old? Clearly, God provided the miraculous bread from heaven during the first Exodus.  Now, Jesus offers us the New Manna and He says, I am the true bread come down from heaven.” Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” While the first manna was from God and was bread from heaven, the New manna is from Jesus who IS the True Bread from heaven! By associating the New Manna with Himself, it surpasses the previous provision.

So, from the Passover we learn that we need an unblemished sacrificial lamb. Of all the human beings who have ever lived, only one could fulfill the requirement. His name is Jesus – the Son of man, the Son of God. From the manna, the supernatural bread sent down from heaven, we learn that Jesus offers us even greater bread! You see, manna met physical needs. The bread that Jesus offers us applies to spiritual hunger.  We can rest assured, when we gather at the Lord’s Table; it is no ordinary meal He sets before us!

Let’s conclude with one more observation. The first manna had the flavor of honey. It was, therefore, a foretaste of the Promised Land, “…a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). It stands to reason that when Jesus gives us the True Bread from Heaven and says, “This is my body…” that we, too, are receiving a foretaste of the Promised Land. But, this is not Canaan. This Promised Land is HEAVEN. You see, in the New Jerusalem, Jesus is the Temple! Revelation 21:22 states, “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” At the Table of the Lord, we have a taste of heaven!

The New Moses leads a New Exodus to the Greater Promised Land. Along the way, we have upgraded supplies. Paul wrote, “Christ, our Passover has been sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast…” Jesus is not only our Passover Lamb; He is also the “True Bread from Heaven.” The old hymn says it well. “Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more!” What blessed gifts have been given to us! Unlike the Israelites and the crowd at Capernaum, may we never grumble or complain about these precious provisions for the journey – they are a foretaste of glory divine!