“Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
The Jewish people begin to grumble because Jesus had said, “I am the bread that comes from heaven.”
Jesus now points out that God gave their forefathers manna from heaven, but those people all died. If anyone eats from the bread that Jesus gives, they will live for ever.
The bread is His flesh. To have eternal life we must eat His flesh and drink His blood.
To a Jew, the idea of cannibalism in any form was abhorrent. This was the worst form of pagan sacrifice. When Jesus starts teaching that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life, this was deeply offensive.
Of course, Jesus is speaking in symbols here, not literally. He is referring to the bread and wine of Communion. He is saying that we must celebrate His death and take that into our being. If we receive His death in this way, we will receive His life for eternity.
He is also making a distinction between the Old Covenant represented here by manna, and the New Covenant in which God Himself is our sustenance.
The Old Covenant was limited in its effectiveness, but the New Covenant in Christ’s blood is unlimited in its effect.
The ancestors ate the manna, and while it was good for daily food, they still died. Those who eat the Body of Christ, who feast on him, are raised to eternal life.
This promise is not just for a limited group of people in a particular place and time, but for all people from all nations for all time.
How great is our God!
Thank you Father for the gift of eternity. Thank you for the privilege of living under a better covenant, a covenant in which Christ is the bread of heaven. Amen.