“He rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.” ~Psalm 78:24
“What is it?” my children occasionally ask as dinner is set before them. Last night, Andrea had made goulash. The name alone can spark disgust in a child. The sight is not much better. Every element of goulash is something the boys generally like to eat, if served separately. Beef, corn, pasta, etc. But, stick them all together and you have a recipe for you know what.
This Sunday we continue a series of readings from John 6 as Jesus references the manna from heaven in the days of Moses and Israel’s desert sojourn. Manna, you may recall, literally means “What is this?” When you are traversing the empty terrain of wilderness, you eat what is set before you, whatever it may be. God’s goulash is all you need when God’s goulash is all you have.
Jesus has compassion on the shepherdless crowds. He feeds the hungry thousands. He doesn’t lose much sleep over the well-fed or the concerns of fattened shepherds. He knows his ministry will continue to provoke skeptics to say, “What is this?” Meanwhile, the newly fed sheep will whisper, “Who is this?” and come to trust the voice of the good shepherd. Jesus might appear like an unappetizing goulash to a sated sinner, but to those who are being saved, the Bread of Life contains everything we need.