How appropriate and timely it was to have the scriptures suggested for today being about bread and the bread of heaven on a Communion Sunday.
In the passage from Exodus it talks about the Israelites complaining to Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. They were hungry and they were tired of being hungry. They couldn’t understand why they were brought out into the wilderness just to starve.
Did you ever go on a long road trip with your parents and siblings when you were growing up? It can be a great adventure with the opportunity to see new things, play games with your siblings as you are travelling along. But, it can also be very boring and soon you are tired of being in the car and you start complaining to your parents. I am hungry; I am tired of sitting here, how much longer is it? Mom; my sister is touching me, she is leaning over into my part of the car and the whining continues.
The summer I turned 12, my parents decided to take a trip to Massachusetts and Vermont to see their families. My dad’s mother was visiting us and she was to make the trek back to Massachusetts with my mom. Dad was to fly out later as he couldn’t get away from work for another week or so. So my mom packed us six kids, ages 11 to 2, in the car, and with all of our suitcases, food for the trip etc. in the trunk. Now Grandma didn’t drive so Mom drove across country on Hwy 2 with all of us in tow. I don’t remember any specific times when we were complaining in her ear but I am sure there must have been some because the only way we didn’t fight was to have the 2 boys in front with mom and grandma and the 4 girls in back. Of course back then there weren’t seatbelt or car seat laws. The girls in the back got along the best by me having the seat (I am the oldest, after all), two sisters on the floor and the last sister on the back window ledge. I am sure there were times when we had no patience, we wanted to be there right now, and when was dinner. I don’t know how Mom did it. So I compare the six kids to the Israelites, Mom was Moses, and Grandma was Aaron. Each night mom found a motel with a kitchenette and she cooked us dinner, let us run off some of that pent up energy, put us to bed, and probably collapsed herself. We complained as did the Israelites and our needs were met. We had dinner and a bed to sleep in; they received the much needed food with the quail in the evening and the manna in the morning. It was provided to them by God, who heard their complaining and took care of their needs. I am sure their journey was completed and they arrived at the land that was being provided to them by God.
We completed our journey as well, arriving safely at Grandma’s home in Millbury, Massachusetts. Dad arrived a few days later. The Israelites did reach their new home as well. After time visiting relatives in both states, we headed back across Canada to home with Dad driving this time. I think we had the same seating arrangements as we did before. We returned home, with the car intact, and maybe Mom and Dad just a little unsettled.
We know that it is hard to have the patience to know that our needs will be taken care of when the trip has been long and we get hungry and tired. It is the same in life. There are times when we have waited for an answer to a problem we are dealing with. We want to know what we should do and we want to know it right now. However, things don’t always happen quickly. The Israelites became impatient and wanted to know how they were going to survive in the wilderness. They took their frustrations out on Moses and Aaron. However God was there with them the whole time, they were just too busy being angry and hungry to remember that. It was at this time that God appeared to them and promised them food to eat. God had never left them.
As we move to the scripture from John 6 that I read, it is a continuation of the passage from last week. At the end of the scripture last week, Jesus walked on the sea to the boat where the disciples were in the storm. After entering the boat, they were able to make the rest of the journey to Capernaum. The next day the people who had been with Jesus and the disciples the day before went looking for Jesus. Soon they realized that Jesus had gone across the sea to Capernaum. There were boats on the beach so the people gathered into the boats and made the trip to Capernaum. When they found Jesus, they asked Him when He made the trip to Capernaum. Jesus answered them saying; “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Jesus knew that the people still didn’t quite understand what Jesus had been telling them and showing them when he fed them bread and fish by using 2 fish and 5 loaves. To them it was about being able to feed them just as their ancestors were fed in the wilderness. Jesus told the people that by feeding them the fish and loaves; God was telling them that this was His work and that they were to believe in Jesus whom God sent to the people to give them eternal life. Jesus says to the people; “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
It would be much easier at times for us to remember that Jesus and God are for real if something dropped out of heaven and landed at our feet. Seeing is believing after all. I have no doubt that if it was needed something could drop from heaven and land at our feet so we could say, okay now I get it. But it comes back to being able to have that faith where we know in our hearts that Jesus is there for us. That God gave us his only son so that we can have eternal life. That is our bread from heaven. If we believe and if we have the faith we will have eternal life, that bread from heaven.
The last verse from the book of John says that Jesus said to the people there; “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” We need to remember that verse, use it to bolster our faith in God and Jesus. We need to remember how wonderful it is that we can never be hungry or thirsty as long as we have the faith we need to remember that Jesus is our bread of life. When we share communion this morning, that last verse should be in the forefront of our minds. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”