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All Manna of Things!
Brenda Cottarel, Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

I’m sure you have noticed the link between this morning’s Old Testament reading, Psalm 78, the Gospel (John 6: 24 – 35) and although we haven’t sung them yet, the next two hymns. The link is Bread.
It’s like a heavenly bakery.

The O. T. reading from Exodus 16 tells us of Moses asking God for help with the grumbling Israelites complaining of hunger and thirst in the wilderness and how they would have been better off staying in Egypt being slaves because at least they would have been fed. God sends down Manna, a sort of bread, from heaven each morning, everybody eats well and all have enough for the day, they are told they must not keep it or store it, more will be provided the next day.

In Psalm 78 we hear of this event in a more poetic way “He rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven”. This Psalm is credited to Moses although I believe that hasn’t been proved.

In the Gospel of St John, the crowds are still following Jesus and ask Him for a sign, Jesus rebukes them, telling them they have only followed Him because He had fed them. Last week’s Gospel told us of that story, Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes and there was twelve baskets left over. Jesus goes on to tell the crowd it was not Moses who had commanded the manna from heaven, as they suggested but God, His father who had sent the bread down from heaven, the bread that gives life to the world. When the people ask for some of that bread Jesus tells them, “ I am the Bread of Life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry”, He didn’t mean He had suddenly become a slice of bread, but by believing in Him we could all be satisfied and fulfilled spiritually. Jesus challenges them and us, not to work for the food that perishes but to work only for food that endures eternal life, the bread of heaven.

Was that Jesus’ mission on earth? Or was it to be a good teacher, well He was certainly that. Was it to be a miracle worker? Yes He was that too. Was it to set us an example of how we should live? Yes He did that also.

I believe part of His mission on earth was to satisfy, satiate our deepest spiritual needs, in other words when He tells us “I am the bread of life” He is telling us that “I alone can fully satisfy you if you believe in me” and through Him we will come to the Father.

Interestingly, while I was compiling this sermon, I discovered that Bethlehem, His birthplace, translates from modern Arabic as house of bread. (That’s another one for the heavenly bakery)
So, Jesus will satisfy our deepest needs, I don’t know what each of you would think they are. I came up with five ideas.

    1. We need to belong.
We all, I believe, have a need to belong. Jesus came on earth so we could belong to the family of God, He died to enable us to become brothers and sisters in Christ and call God, our Father in heaven.

    2. We need to be relieved of our fears.
Just after the resurrection, we are told, in John 20, the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors hiding because they were afraid of what may happen to them, hadn’t they seen Jesus crucified? Jesus just walks straight into that room and says calmly “peace be with you”, another time He relieved their fears by calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus relieves our fears if we listen.

    3. We need Jesus to entertain our doubts.
We all have doubts and Jesus listens, that is He entertains them, He doesn’t just dismiss them. Famously, when Thomas doubted that the Lord had risen, he told the other disciples that he would only believe when he saw for himself the on Jesus’ hands and side. Was Jesus angry with him? No, He offers the proof Thomas is looking for by showing His hands to Thomas and tells him to put his finger into the wounds and to put his hand into His side where the sword had pierced Him then tells Thomas to stop doubting and believe in Him. Jesus listens to our doubts and deals with them if we have faith and believe in Him.

    4. We need to be reassured, to have our questions answered.
We need to be heard, to have our questions answered, to satisfy our curiosity, to give us wisdom. The Pharisees asked Jesus questions on many occasions for instance they asked Him whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. This was a no win situation for Jesus, if He said yes He would lose public support, if He said no, the Pharisees would report Him to the authorities, the Romans who took a dim view of such things and punish Him. As usual, Jesus’ answer is wise and intelligent He asks for a denarius, a coin, studies it then says “give unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is Gods” Jesus is never afraid to answer a question, albeit with another question.

    5. We need friendship.
We all need a dear friend in our lives and if you will ask Him and cultivate that friendship, He will become your dear friend, a very dear and important friend to you.

In conclusion, Jesus satisfies these needs:

    1. Belonging
    2. Relief from our fears.
    3. Entertains our doubts.
    4. Answers our questions. (and is)
    5. Dear friend to us.

You can see what these letters spell out … BREAD.


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