I can just see the people coming out of their tents at first light, walking into the open areas of the camp, and starring at the ground in consternation. They see this white, flaky substance; like NOTHING they have ever see before. They pick it up to examine it, and moved it through their fingers. Placing it tentatively to their mouths they tasted; it was like wafers baked with honey. It melted quickly in their mouths like something light and sweet. Turning to one another they began to ask, “What is it?” And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which Yahweh has given you to eat.”
Day in and day out they gathered this “what is it?” for their sustenance; they ground it up, cooked it in pots and made cakes out of it. Day in and day out the same food over and over again. The monotony of it was back breaking. They began to grumble, “Day after day we go out and get this “what is it?”, and there is nothing else to eat!! We are so SICK of this ‘what is it?’” Can you hear the disgust and frustration in the question?
“What is it?”
(Based on Ex 16:9-35; Nu 11:4-10; Du 8:3,16)
1. The context of John 6 speaking of the wilderness journey of the Israelites and the manna that God provided for them during it.
2. The Hebrew word for manna literally means “What is it?”
So in John 6, when Jesus tells the people that he is the bread of life (Jn 6:35) he is actually saying, “I am the ‘what is it?’ of life; I am the answer to the question.” That question thousands of years ago was asked by people who did not appreciate the provision that God had provided and it became a source of complaint!
What a picture of God’s provision for our propitiation, our salvation! People now a days really ask the same question when they contemplate God’s provisional sacrifice, “What is it?” God came to earth in flesh, lived and died for the sins of the world. That’s What It Is! or should I say WHO it is! May we never grumble over God’s gracious provision! Amen.