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What is Manna? Bread from heaven, Bread for life John 6:30 - 33

Updated on January 30, 2014

Exodus 16:11 - 15, 31

"And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"

"So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, as fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it"? For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat."

"The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, whate, and its tast was like wafers with honey."

Questions for thought

  • How have you seen God provide for you?

  • Do you give others (people, circumstances, coincidence, ect) credit for what God has done?

  • Do you expect God to give you what you want, or trust him to give you what is best?

John 6: 30 - 33

"So they said to Him, "What then do you do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world."


  • first the people ask what work they have to do to earn God's approval, then they ask what work Jesus will do to earn their approval.
  • Jesus is referring to himself as the bread of God
  • Jesus gave life to the world when he died for our sins

Where did Manna come from?

Life in the wilderness was difficult. It had been two and a half months since the Israelites had left the slavery of Egypt behind them and their memories were beginning to fade. As their food supply dwindled and the unknown future lay ahead, the people began to worry. Hungry bellies reminisced about the rich and plentiful foods of their host country, dimming the pain of hard labor and glorifying what was left behind. Fear gripped the hearts and minds of the wanderers. They didn’t know how long it would take to get to the land God had promised. They didn’t know where it was and some weren’t even sure it was real. The desert, barren and lifeless stretched before them with very little to live on. How could they possibly survive once their stores ran out? The days had turned into weeks and the weeks were turning into months and there seemed to be no end in sight. Idle talk voicing concerns subtly turned to anger as tendrils of panic snaked through the masses. Something needed to be done. Pressure was building and blame needed to be cast. The people grumbled to Moses. “Would that we had died by the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

Their desperation was in vain for God had a solution. It was called Manna. “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day.” (Exodus 16:4) If they had only trusted in God to take care of them, they would have saved themselves so much headache and worry. God wanted them to remember his provision for them in the wilderness so he commanded that a measurement of the manna be kept as proof for future generations. “Then Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”(Exodus 16:32)

Jesus Offers True Bread from Heaven

This bread was kept in the Temple when Jesus lived on the earth. It was almost 1500 years later and everyone still knew that Moses had fed the Israelites with manna from heaven when they wandered in the wilderness. As people compared Jesus to Moses, looking for the prophet who would be just like Moses, they wondered if Jesus would live up to their expectations. He had already shown his power when he fed them with the loaves and fish the previous day, now they were looking for something even greater. Perhaps they wanted some manna for themselves. When Jesus asked them to believe in him, they practically dare him to prove his worthiness by meeting their demands. “So they said to him, “What then do you do for a sign, so that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” And just so he is clear on what they want, they continue, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’”

But Jesus knew their theology was wrong. It was not Moses who gave them the bread from heaven, and it was not Moses who had sent him. It was his Father. The people were looking for the wrong thing. They were looking for a prophet from Moses who could feed them as Moses did. But the manna from the wilderness could only feed their bodies for a day. Jesus was the true bread from heaven; he could feed their souls for eternity and give life to the world.

What do you want from God? Are the things you ask for temporary, or do you want something that is eternal? Does he have to do what you want in order to prove himself to you? Or is what he has already done for you enough to make you believe?


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