I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:57-59)
Read: Psalm 75-78
Relate: It’s raining outside. As I write this I can hear the patter of rain against the windows. Sometimes I can. In between the songs playing very loud from my itunes list I hear it. There’s no real mystery to the rain. I know where it came from. I know where it will go when it gets soaked into the ground or works its way through the drainage. I walk past that river almost every day (hence The River Walk). That river will merge with the Susquehanna (hence Two Rivers). The Susquehanna will meander a few hundred more miles through New York, Pennsylvania, and into Maryland where it will dump the rain currently falling by my window into the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to the glories of evaporation and condensation that water will circle back around and some day the rain will be falling outside my window once again. No mystery here. I know what it is, where it came from, and where its going.
When God fed the Israelites in the desert it wasn’t much like the rain. They didn’t know where it came from. They didn’t know where it went. (Does bread just evaporate in the heat of the sun?) They couldn’t nail down its taste or properties. (It tastes kind of, sorta like coriander and honey.) Beyond that why does it keep overnight on the weekends but not on the weekdays. Even the very name, manna, means “What is it?”
React: I’m the kind of guy who likes to know things. A lot of the books I chose to read were picked because I don’t know much about that subject or it is an intriguing angle to a familiar topic that I would love to explore. A recent example would be a history of religion with a focus on silence. It wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. I always seem to come at Diarmaid Macculloch with high expectations only to be met by higher disappointment. You would think I’d learn.
Anyways, for me it is an exercise in humility to not try to figure out so many of the why’s and the how’s that are part and parcel of the mystery of Christ. Even when we do know the what’s (and we know far fewer of those than we like to think we do) the why’s and the how’s seem to be so elusive. Why did God chose to save a sinner like me? Why did redemption require a cross? Why Galilee? Why the twelve men he chose? And then there is that classic paradox of the Trinity? If you think you truly understand that, you aren’t thinking deeply enough on the subject. How do the events of two thousand years ago justify me today? There is also the more mundane stuff like, how did a resurrected Jesus with a solid physical body pop in and out of rooms? I know the multidimensional aspects of quantum physics has an answer for this. I could spit it back to you but I don’t really get it. Of course we are left with some where’s as well. When He ascended, where did Jesus disappear to? I know, I know… heaven. Where’s that? Combining a how and a where… how exactly does omnipresence work?
These are just the tips of the iceberg. I could keep throwing questions like these out all day long. The thing is, the Israelites in the desert didn’t have to have manna all figured out for it to be life and sustenance for them. They just had to eat it. I’m sure there were guys who would stay up all night to try and figure out exactly how it appeared. And what made the morning dew on the Sabbath different that it didn’t carry manna in with it? There was nothing wrong with searching out answers, but their sustenance didn’t come from their knowledge. It came when, by faith, they collected and then ate the manna every day. In the same way, our salvation doesn’t come from an intellectual understanding of who Jesus is. It doesn’t come from having the right doctrine and dogma. No. It comes from “eating” Him. By faith we take it in and make it become a part of who we are. Have we, have I, been just learning about Jesus or are we truly ingesting Him?
God, I want all of You. Even when I don’t get it, even when I search out the answers and come up blank, I want it all. Even through the span of eternity I might not ever fully know the whats, hows, and the whys. But that’s OK because I know the Who, and I know that You are good.