THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

THE HIDDEN MANNA

In Revelation 2:17 Jesus promised those who overcome that he will give them ‘some of the hidden manna’. This immediately raises two questions – what is this ‘manna’? and, why does Jesus describe it as ‘hidden’?

The Bible first mentions ‘manna’ in Exodus 16, when God began to miraculously supply food for the Israelites in the desert after their redemption from Egypt. This supply continued for their forty years wandering in the wilderness. This manna, although miraculous, was not ‘hidden’; it was visible, tangible, physical, sustaining.

In John 6, in the context of Jesus’ challenge that they should believe in him, the Jews referred to the ‘manna’ with which God fed the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years.  They turned the challenge back on Jesus and demanded what similarly miraculous sign he could give them [verses 25-31].

In response Jesus referred to himself as:

‘the true bread from heaven’ [verse 32]
‘the bread of God … who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world’ [verse 33]
‘the bread of life’ who supplies permanent sustenance [verse 35,48]
‘the bread that comes down from heaven which a man may eat and not die’ [verse 50, plus 58]
‘the living bread that came down from heaven’ [verse 51].

Of this living bread of God, which is the incarnate Jesus – God in human flesh – Jesus said:

‘This bread is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world’ [verse 51], and ‘…your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever’ [verse 58].

The ‘hidden manna’ is the incarnate Jesus Christ. He is ‘manna’ because of the spiritual life and sustenance he gives to those who believe in him. In John 6:25-59 believing in him has a number of synonyms:

Verse 27 – working for the food that endures to eternal life.
Verse 28 – doing the work of God, that is, believing in the one he sent.
Verse 35,37,44,45 – coming to Jesus.
Verse 40 – looking to the Son and believing in him.
Verse 50,51 – eating the bread that comes down from heaven.
Verse 53,54,56 – eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking his blood.
Verse 57 – feeding on Jesus.
Verse 58 – feeding on ‘this bread’.

This is the ‘hidden manna’ – God hidden in human flesh, God dying a human death in order to give us life. God – hidden and incognito, providing for those who believe all that is necessary to fully meet their spiritual needs and permanently sustain them spiritually in this life and beyond. Whoever knows this God, whoever comes to this God by coming to Jesus is never spiritually hungry ever again, and never spiritually thirsty ever again [John 6:35]. Whoever eats this ‘bread’ will never die [John 6:50]. Whoever eats this bread lives for ever [John 6:51,58]. Whoever eats this ‘bread’ has eternal life [John 6:27,33,40,47,51,54].

To the overcomers, to those who truly believe in him, Jesus gives this grand assurance: he will give them the hidden manna. Because they believe in him he will continue to sustain them spiritually. His sacrificial, substitutionary death – his flesh, his blood - will continue to give them life, forever. They remain in him, and he remains in them [John 6:56]. Nothing in the whole universe can sever them from him [Romans 8:31-39].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015