The Difference Between Matzoh and Manna John 6:22-59

 One of the things I am most grateful to God for is my Jewish Heritage. While I am certainly a Christian, and the fact that my mother is not Jewish excludes me from saying I was born Jewish, Nevertheless, I have Jewish blood and real Jewish roots. That being said I have a real love for Jewish people and customs and when I think of Jesus, I color Him with the memories I have of my grandmother, great grandmother, aunts, uncles, and friends. Jesus becomes more real to me because I have these memories of those whom I love who were and are close to me. My grandmother introduced me to matzoh. She told me there were times in Israel’s history, on the move, when they did not have time to let bread rise. So instead, they made matzoh. Matzoh, if you don’t know, is a giant cracker. It’s flat, square, and scored. There are multitudinous ways to use it in recipes, and it forms the carbohydrate staple for anyone celebrating Passover. Matzoh is often used as the bread for communion as well. I have fond memories of my grandmother making Matzoh Brei for me when I was little. My kids love it plain, slathered with butter…good stuff! On the other hand, manna was the sticky stuff that came from the sky during the time of wandering in the Wilderness. It could be used to make things, but it didn’t keep; it spoiled over night. God gave it directly to the people for their sustenance as they wandered for those forty years. The people eventually got sick of it and grumbled that they had to eat it. This bread was nothing that they ever knew before, it had qualities they were not familiar with, nor particularly fond of, but it kept them alive. In John 6:22-59, Jesus makes some comparisons of these breads to Himself. The scene takes place with the people looking for Jesus in Capernaum. They went seeking more miracles because they had seen Him feed over five thousand people with a few loaves and a few fish. They were seeking matzoh, that good stuff that Jesus had given them. They also wanted the power to do it themselves. Think about it! If they could do the works of God, there would be no hungry or sick people. They could fix their own problems. They wouldn’t have to traipse all over after this elusive magician. They could do it themselves. Jesus knows this, and in famous Jesus style, lets them know. When they inquired of Him He said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, [i] you are seeking me, not because you saw [j] signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 [k] Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for [l] the food that endures to eternal life, which [m] the Son of Man will give to you. For on [n] him God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:26-27 (ESV) Not to be deterred, the people asked how they could do the works of God. Jesus’ response was classic: Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29 (ESV) Frustrated then, the people asked for another way of getting what they came for, they asked for a sign. They knew about manna, and were looking for signs that Jesus was like Moses who performed miracles and wonders and produced the things they needed. They looked to Moses, a human, and not to God Himself. What they were looking at right now was God in the flesh. Jesus was going to clue them in. He said: 32 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. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32-33 (ESV) Still looking for matzoh, and not getting the analogy, they just demanded! Sir, they said, give us this bread always. Then Jesus lowers the boom. 35 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. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 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. 40 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.” John 6:35-40 (ESV) People grumbled with aggravation. They were sure this man was a nut. Wasn’t he just a person who had parents? He couldn’t be from heaven, they knew His family. All they wanted was the means to make matzoh. He could just give them that without this entire alien from outer space talk. Jesus was not surprised. He had to teach them that their expectations were not what He was fulfilling. There was something else, something far more wonderful than matzoh or manna. It was God Himself. They didn’t get it. So Jesus explains again: Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:43-51 (ESV) Keeping the matzoh before their faces, as usual, the people failed to see the bigger picture. Instead of seeing that God was giving them, this incredible gift of life, which the bread represented, they only saw the sticky reality of manna. They still had the carnal agenda. They missed the point again. Now they were fighting amongst themselves accusing Jesus of promoting cannibalism. My mentor always told me never to lower the bridge but always raise the water. Jesus does this in his closing statement to these people. He skips over the cannibalism part and doesn’t even address it. He gives them an explanation that requires them to use the equipment God has given them for thinking, their brains! He says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58 (ESV) Jesus was not going to show them the difference between matzoh and manna. He was not going to indulge their obsession with material goods. Jesus was showing them that their relationship with Him was more important than either matzoh or manna, and if they were listening to Him instead of their grumbling stomachs, they would never hunger or thirst… So how’s your appetite? Ready for a little bread? See Ya Next Time You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following: Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference.


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