30 So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." 34 They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always." 35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst."
Meditation: Do you hunger for the bread of life?
The Jews had always regarded the manna in the wilderness as the bread
of God (Psalm 78:24, Exodus 16:15). There was a strong
Rabbinic belief that when the Messiah came he would give manna
from heaven. This was the supreme work of Moses. Now the Jewish
leaders were demanding that Jesus produce manna from heaven as
proof to his claim to be the Messiah. Jesus responds by telling
them that it was not Moses who gave the manna, but God. And the
manna given to Moses and the people was not the real bread from
heaven, but only a symbol of the bread to come.
Jesus then makes the claim which only God can make: I am the bread of life. The bread which Jesus offers is none else than the very life of God. This is the true bread which can truly satisfy the hunger in our hearts. The manna from heaven prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper which Jesus gave to his disciples on the eve of his sacrifice. The manna in the wilderness sustained the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It could not produce eternal life for the Israelites.
The bread which Jesus offers his disciples sustains us not only on our journey to the heavenly paradise, it gives us the abundant supernatural life of God which sustains us both now and for all eternity. When we receive from the Lord's table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood and partakers of his divine life. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. Do you hunger for God and for the food which produces everlasting life?
Psalm 31:3-8, 19-21
3 Yes, you are my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead me and guide me,
4 take me out of the net which is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
6 You hate those who pay regard to vain idols; but I trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad for your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction, you have taken heed of my adversities,
8 and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
19 O how abundant is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you, and wrought for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the sons of men!
20 In the covert of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you hold them safe under your shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as in a besieged city.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Trusting in the Lord, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"If you put your trust in money, you are paying futile regard to
vain things; if you put your trust in high office or some exalted
rank in human government, you are paying futile regard to vain
things... When you put your trust in all these, either you expire
and leave them all behind, or they will crumble while you are
still alive, and what you trusted will have let you down...
For my part, I do not put my trust in empty things as they do or
pay futile regard to them; I have put my trust in the Lord." (excerpt from Exposition on the Psalms 31,12)