Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” ‘Sir,’ they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:32-35 NIV)
Most of us are familiar with the story that when God’s people miraculously escaped slavery in Egypt they spent 40 years wandering in the Sinai during which God provided sustenance by providing ‘manna’ bread, and streams of flowing water in the desert. But are we familiar with the deeper truth that these historical events also have metaphorical meanings and lessons for us today? At several points, Paul and Jesus, in referring to the exodus experience, state explicitly that these events were meant to act as lessons for God’s people for future generations.
The lessons are both negative and positive. In I Corinthians 10:6ff, Paul refers to the post-exodus events as warnings from Israel’s history and states, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” But in our passage above from the gospel of John, Jesus reveals the positive lesson. Just as God provided physical sustenance for His people in the Sinai so long ago, Jesus and God the Father will provide spiritual bread and water for all our needs today.
The ultimate example of God’s promise to continue to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of his followers is given in Christ’s assurance toward the end of his ministry, “Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matt. 28:20). Brennan Manning in his book, Abba’s Child comments, “We should expect that Christ will be actively present in our lives. If our faith is alive… we will be alert to moments, events and occasions when the power of resurrection is brought to bear on our lives. Self-absorbed and inattentive, we fail to notice the subtle ways in which Jesus is snagging our attention.”
As the fall launch is upon us, as we come out of the slower rhythms of summer, this is a message that I commend to you. There is a risk that the activity of returning kids to school schedules, the demands of business activity, the relentless pull of social media may cause us to become self-absorbed or inattentive. There is a risk that a return to busier schedules may cause us to miss the still small voice of God nudging us to make time for kingdom priorities of worship, giving back, spiritual transformation, and stewardship of time and resources that God is calling us to. These priorities are usually at odds with what the world is calling us to.
There is another powerful metaphor in the Exodus story. The manna that God provided to his people could not be stored up for later use. If more than a day’s supply was stored away for later use, it rotted. The spiritual message is clear. We must re-establish our reliance upon God’s provision daily! We must not think that a meaningful spiritual retreat or a good worship experience on a weekend will eliminate the need for continuing to seek God’s provision daily. Provision from God is not something to be stored up and drawn upon later.
I encourage you to make time in your schedule, during your monthly Forum meetings, to recognize, talk about and pray over those moments, events and occasions where the power of the resurrection is brought to bear on your life.
- What causes self-absorption and inattentiveness to spiritual priorities in your life?
- How will you pick up your spiritual ‘manna’ from God each day?
John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
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