Thursday, November 29, 2007

Irony and Manna

I have been defending the Real Presence of Christ's body and blood under the bread and wine in a discussion from some Reformed Christians. The discussion has turned to "The Bread of Life" passages from John 6. While you should go reread it for yourself, I will remind you that this is the part where Christ talks about being the Bread of Life and compares eating His flesh to the Israelites who ate manna from heaven.

I have been told that manna means "what is it?" in Hebrew. As a Soldier who has to eat an MRE more often than I'd like to think about, I can just imagine why the Israelites called it that.

During this discussion, I was struck by an incredible irony: God's people still call the bread from heaven "manna".

There is still a great deal of disdain (and sometimes simple confusion) surrounding the Lord's Supper. Paul writes and condemns the exact behavior at the altar that sent the fiery serpents to plague the people of Israel. Sickness and death follow the sin in both places [Nu 21:6, 1 Cor 11:29-30].

The more that I study these wonderful chapters from Numbers, John, and 1 Corinthians, the deeper the parallels become. There is the obvious typology between the Bronze Snake that was lifted up and Christ on the Cross... but it goes beyond that to expose our spiritual afflictions, the sustinence of Christ's Supper, the importance of proper examination, good discipline, and the need for steadfast obedience. This is very heavy stuff. It all boggles my limited, human mind.

Despite all of the debates about the Lord's Supper, Christians still gather around God's table and wonder about it. They still treat it with disrespect. The Real Presence debate consists of people looking at the life-giving food that God sent from heaven and asking, "Manna?" (What is it?)

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