I certainly didn’t realize how easy
I had it. My experience of meals during
most of my life required no thought on my part – no effort. When I was growing up I just knew that mom
would make dinner. It didn’t matter what
else was going on.. When it was dinner
time, I knew that a meal would just appear on the table. It would be there – you could count on it.
And it would be good
… very good. My mom is a great cook and we had so many tasty meals.
I went to Concordia College in Ann Arbor, MI I lived in a dorm all four years
and ate at the cafeteria. Once again, I
never had to worry about what I was going to eat, and on the whole the food was
good. When I went to Concordia Seminary
in St. Louis as a single student I was required to live on campus in a dorm. I lived in that existence of a monastic frat
house and ate at the cafeteria. Yet
again, I never had to worry about what I was going to eat, and during my time
there the food was quite good.
did change when I married Amy. But it
was a good change. Amy is a good cook
and I helped out where I could. I became
the household grill master and discovered the joys of grilling. It was just the two of us, and if schedules
made things difficult it was easy to improvise and make do.
then we added four children. There are
now six mouths to feed – and while I am trying to eat less, the four of them keep
eating more and more. The schedule is
also busier than it ever was before with sports, school and church
activities. Keeping enough food in the
house, having ideas for meals and then actually carrying out those plans in the
time constraints of our schedule is a challenge. I didn’t realize how easy I had it all those
the Old Testament lesson today the people of Israel ask what they are going to
eat. They grumble against Moses and
Aaron and complain that they had it so much easier when they were back in
Egypt. They say, “Would
that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by
the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this
wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Now when they complain they are
ignoring two key pieces of information.
First, they were slaves in Egypt. They were used by the Egyptians as
forced labor. They suffered and the book
of Exodus tells us that “Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.” And
this leads to the second thing they are ignoring: God has just rescued them in
a dramatic and amazing way. He had sent
ten plagues on the Egyptians, while sparing Israel. In the Passover he had
forced the Egyptians to release them and then he had delivered the people of
Israel by bringing them through the Red Sea.
Yahweh had just given them water to drink in a miracle as he made bad
water into that which was sweet and drinkable.
Yet here they are, grumbling against
Moses and Aaron. And in our text Moses calls the people to account when he
reminds them that he and Aaron are only Yahweh’s servants as he says, “Yahweh
has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him--what are we? Your
grumbling is not against us but against Yahweh.”
It shouldn’t be all that hard to
understand how this text applies to you.
We do the same thing as Israel – in fact we cut out the middleman and
just grumble directly against God. We look at our circumstances and decide that
they just aren’t good enough. We want
more. We want better. We ignore the many blessings that God’s has
given to us. Being thankful for the ways that God provides
us with daily bread is beneath us. We expect so much more than just those
things needed to sustain our body and life.
After all, look at what my neighbor has! Look at the trips my friends on
Facebook are taking! Why isn’t my life like that?
knew Israel’s need. He also heard
Israel’s grumbling. And in our text Moses
says, “At evening you
shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and
in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your
grumbling against the LORD.” Yahweh said
that in the morning they would see the glory of the Lord. And right then the glory – the perceptible
presence of God – showed up in the cloud that accompanied Israel as God said
through Moses, “At twilight you shall eat
meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know
that I am the LORD your God.’”
In our text we learn that in the
evening God provided quail that came upon the camp. And then each morning he provided something
they had never seen before. They called
it manna, which in Hebrew means “What is it?”
In answer to the question Moses told them that it was the bread Yahweh
had given them to eat. It was what the
Psalms would later describe as the bread from heaven.
We need to stop and ponder this
manna – this bread from heaven. God says
that in it his glory is revealed. It is
after all, a miracle as God provides for his people. Yet when the people first see it, they don’t
even know what it is. And later, they
complain about it and say that all they have to eat is this worthless
manna. God’s glory is revealed in a
miracle, and yet the nature of this miracle is such that it can be overlooked
and even spurned.
This is how God works. And this is how God worked in his greatest
miracle – the incarnate Son of God. In
the first chapter of his Gospel John tells us about Jesus, “And
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as
of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John tells us that in the One conceived by
the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, God was revealing his saving
Jesus showed this in the feeding of
the five thousand recounted in today’s Gospel lesson. He took five loaves of bread and two fish and
used it to feed a huge crowd. He
provided food in such abundance that there were twelve baskets full left over.
The next day the crowd sought out
Jesus. He said to them, “Truly, truly, I
say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate
your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the
food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For
on him God the Father has set his seal.”
In spite of
the fact that Jesus had just fed them in a miracle, they asked what sign Jesus
would do so that they could believe him.
After all, Moses had given the Israelites manna in the wilderness. But our Lord replied: “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.” And
when they asked for this bread, Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never
Christ, true God and true man is the true bread from heaven. He is the bread who gives life to the
world. Jesus went on to say, “This is
the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.”
–the Son of God – became flesh in order to offer himself on the cross. He came in the flesh to die for your sins –
to die for all of the times you ignore what God provides to you and grumble
about what you don’t have. He came in
the flesh to die so that in his resurrection on the third day he could defeat
sin’s evil progeny – death itself. By
his death he has given you forgiveness and life. He has given you eternal life with God – a
life that will include a resurrected and transformed flesh when Christ returns
on the Last Day.
to the people, “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. Whoever eats my flesh and
drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” We learn that the answer by many of Jesus’
disciples was to respond: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” And after
this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. They left Jesus. The saving glory of God was
being revealed in Christ, and yet they found it easy to overlook and reject
It is the same today. In Jesus Christ the saving glory continues to
be revealed. He is the bread that has
come down from heaven – the bread which gives life to the world. He continues to be someone that many find
easy to overlook. They find him easy to reject because he speaks hard sayings
about who we are as sinners and that no one can come to the Father except
But in Jesus we do see God’s saving
glory. In his crucified flesh we find
forgiveness for the times we grumble against God. In his risen flesh we find
eternal life that will include our whole life – body and soul. In his love for us we find the love with
which we now love one another.
In order to give all of this to us,
Jesus Christ has instituted the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus who said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my
blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day,” uses bread
and wine to give us his true body and blood.
We come to his altar because here we receive the bread of heaven. Here the saving glory of God is revealed to
Like the manna in our text; like
Jesus himself it is possible to overlook and reject this gift. But all who believe in Jesus and his word
find here the gift of forgiveness and life. We find the guarantee of our own
resurrection. We find the love that enables us to love others. So let us now
come to the Sacrament for here we see the glory of God.