(12.) On Christ as the Hidden Manna

(12.) On Christ as the Hidden Manna

(12.) On Christ as the Hidden Manna.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.” (Rev. 2:17, NKJV).

Living Bread. Soon after Jesus’ astounding feeding of the 5,000 and His walking on the turbulent Sea, He was surrounded in the synagogue by a few of the people who had been fed so miraculously earlier. Jesus saw this as a teachable moment for His audience, especially after someone in His audience said to Him, We’ll believe you if you can show us another miracle, another sign. After all, (this person continued), Moses fed our ancestors with manna in the wilderness all those years (Exodus 16). If you’re the long-awaited Prophet to replace Him, what sign can you do for us? Jesus couldn’t wait to dignify this awkward question with a self-revelation that is profound and puzzling. Jesus decided to mix the spiritual and the physical in an interesting way. He told them, Are you looking for bread from heaven? Are you seeking a sign like manna in the desert? Didn’t you just get fed out in the middle of nowhere? Well, think of this, then. I AM the Bread of Life. Think about that manna with Moses. I am like that, only I AM the living bread that came down from heaven to give His life to feed the world. Come to me and you will never be spiritually hungry again. Come to me, take me into your innermost being, into your deepest self, and you will live forever. The living Bread I give you is myself, my own body, which I will offer as a sacrifice so that all may live. My body is real food for the soul, and my blood is real drink. Unless you eat my body and take me into yourself, and drink my blood while you’re at it, you will not have eternal life. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. I am the Bread, the living Manna, that comes from heaven to feed you unto eternal life. Think of me as spiritual manna for your souls. (read John 6:26-58).

I AM. Jesus began this rather mysterious teaching about bread and flesh and blood with what must have looked like an outlandish claim. He said I AM, a hint of the personal Name of Yahweh given to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3). I AM is an abbreviated version of the Great I AM, I AM WHAT I AM, I AM HE WHO EXISTS. Jesus here claimed to be divine, to be co-equal to the God of Israel. This is a bombshell of self-revelation, that He is at one with Yahweh, a Son of the Father in heaven. Jesus smoothly transitions from His I AM claim to that of being the Bread of Life. And He goes from there to asking the people to eat His flesh and drink His blood. It’s no wonder that many in His audience at the synagogue were perplexed, or put off by His words, to the point of walking away from Jesus by the time His teaching was over.

Manna. Jesus talked about bread in the context of manna. He even compared Himself a little to that food provided in the desert. He came down from heaven, just like manna. He is to be eaten, just like manna. And He like manna was a gift from the hand of God. Manna was eaten in order to be sustained physically. Jesus is Bread that is eaten to be sustained spiritually. Manna is a bread of mystery that appeared every morning, the word manna meaning “What is it?” Jesus is another bread of mystery to many who misunderstood and rejected Him. Wilderness manna was openly revealed for all to see every day. Likewise, Jesus was walking and teaching and healing for all to see, out in the open. All who wanted manna had free and easy access. All who sought Jesus could easily find Him. All who ate manna had their hunger satisfied. All who partake of Jesus have their spiritual hunger satisfied, forever. Jesus gives the soul true nourishment, and only those with faith can truly receive it. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps. 34:8).

Hidden Manna. When Jesus talked about offering hidden manna in Rev. 2:17, He was no doubt offering Himself as the Bread from heaven, His own body and blood. Unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we don’t have His life in us. In John 6, Jesus seemed to be foreshadowing His Last Supper. He is referring to the Eucharist in both John 6 and Rev. 2:17. The manna comes down from heaven in the sacramental Communion in which Jesus is, in a sense, hiding. Christ is spiritually hidden in the physical bread and wine. His Holy Spirit is intimately interconnected within the bread and wine. The elements are fused with the Spirit. The Hidden Manna is offered to believers as the living Bread to be spiritually consumed and digested in the innermost being. The mystical Presence, the Real Presence, within the Hidden Manna. The Eucharist is spiritual food available to all who believe in the Living Bread. To receive the power of God and the life of Christ, His flesh and blood must be accepted as spiritual nourishment hidden in the physical elements. Jesus Christ, the Hidden Manna, for the life of the world.