(antiphon: v. 35); 1 Corinthians 10:2-4; John 6:31-35
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Newly freed from slavery, on the move for about month, and running out of food the Israelites complain. (Exod. 16:1-3) So the Lord rained down meat for supper and bread for breakfast. (Exod. 16:8, 11-14) Sweet bread that tasted like honey. (Exod. 16:31) Miraculous bread that appeared when the dew burned off in the light of day, when the Lord appeared in the cloud (Exod. 16:10), when the sun burst upon the white stuff covering ground like snow. (Exod. 16:13-14) It must have radiated just like fresh snow when the sun bursts through the clouds, increasing the glory of Lord as the stuff on the ground shone with heavenly light. And they said, “What is it?”—“Manna?” in their language. And never ones to understate the obvious, or maybe they were folks with a deep sense of humour, they called it that throughout the 40 years that they ate it. Manna—What is it? And the answer to that question is important: “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.” (Exod. 16:15) Bread from heaven, bread of life, given by the Lord, the second person of the Trinity, who is the living bread from heaven. That bread that when eaten gives eternal life. (John 6:47-51)
And so Jesus, the bread of heaven (John 6:51) was there feeding the Israelites, miraculously, with bread from heaven. (Exod. 16:4, 15) He who is the living bread that drives away death fed them with bread that kept death at bay in the wilderness. He gave it to them as a test of their faith. (Exod. 16:4) He gave it with instructions, His word of how to use it: gather only enough each day. Don’t keep extra for the next day. Each day enough will be supplied for you. Except on the 7th day—the day of rest. There won’t be any that day. So gather extra on the 6th day so that you can rest on the 7th day and give attention to the Lord and His word. For on the 6th day the bread won’t rot that evening. (Exod. 16:4-5, 16, 19, 23) It won’t decay. It won’t see corruption—just as Christ’s body rested in the grave at evening on the 6th day, and didn’t see corruption all the 7th day (Acts 2:27, 31-32), but was raised unto eternal life through the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4) on the 8th day.
Through the glory of the Lord they were granted on the 6th day—the day that man was created (Gen. 1:23, 26, 31), the day that Jesus would die for the sin of mankind—a bread that did not decay. A bread that would feed them and grant them rest on the 7th day. Which would see them through to a new week on the 8th day. But unlike this bread, the true bread of heaven—Jesus—feeds your soul, giving it rest not just for the present day, but even driving away death itself. Eternal death. Granting resurrection unto life eternal. For just as Jesus rose on the 8th day and a new day dawned for all creation—so we gather on the 8th day, in the new dawn, to eat that bread that drives away death and grants eternal life.
For this feast is a great blessing. It is the Lord Himself. It is what we must cling to until we eat the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom. (Rev. 19:6-9) But while we are here below we have this bread from heaven to eat providing for our spiritual rest and refreshment.
And the Lord provided for their needs just as He does for ours. When they complained against Him again and doubted that He was there with them to provide for them He provided water from a rock. They say you can’t get blood from a stone, but He caused a geyser of water to gush forth from a stone. Living water. Moving water. Enlivening water. Water that satisfied their parched lips and dehydrated bodies. But that’s not all. St. Paul says that “the Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4) What does the apostle Paul mean? That the Rock was “like” Christ? That the Rock was an “image” of Christ. No. He means what he says. The Rock was Christ. Exodus says the Lord stood on the rock as Moses struck it. (Exod. 17:6) How do you get water from a stone? Was Christ in the rock? Now you and I might be like, “What? How can God be in a rock? God is God. He is spirit. He is not physical. Not in that way.” What a good Greek philosophical way of thinking we moderns have! Well, the good Biblical Hebrew way of thinking says, “He’s God. If He says it, it’s so. If He says He is in the rock, He’s in the rock. If he says He’s in the bread and wine, He’s in the bread and wine. I mean, if He created heaven and earth by a word, can’t He do what He says?” So, He was the Rock. Water of life came from Him. Just as when you believe in Him, He takes up residence in you and streams of living water flow from inside you. (John 7:38) For the Holy Spirit flows inside you. (John 7:39) How did the Jesus and His Holy Spirit get in you? By the Lord’s own promise in Holy Baptism. By the washing of water and the Spirit (John 3:5-6). By the washing of water with the Word (Eph. 5:26), which is Sword of the Spirit. (Eph. 6:17) By the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5-6) By the gift of Holy Spirit through baptism (Acts 2:38-39) in the Triune name of God. (Matt. 28:18-20) This is what the Lord has said. It is most certainly true.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON