Lectionary blog for Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 and John 6:24-35; text for Aug. 5, 2012, tenth Sunday after Pentecost
I always laugh whenever I read the manna text from Exodus.
The Israelites were in chains, building for Pharaoh, and just miserable as slaves in Egypt. They had cried out to God for help over and over and over again. God delivered them through his servant Moses and the parting of the Red Sea.
It should be awesome, right? I mean, the people had just witnessed God’s wonderful works. The people should have been perfectly willing to follow God anywhere, right?
No. The complaints start to roll in: It was better in Egypt from the water to the food. Are you kidding me?!?
Fast forward to Jesus and the disciples. Jesus just fed more than 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. It was a miracle — a miracle with leftovers! God is a God of abundance.
Jesus then teaches the disciples about what type of bread to seek out. And the disciples ask, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you?” Are you kidding me?!?
But isn’t this our way? How much have we received from God? How much have we been given? And still, we complain: I don’t have enough; it isn’t the newest or the best thing; I need bigger and better!
And what about the cross? How many times have we approached the cross and asked God, “What more are you going to do for us?”
The amazing thing is that God knows we are going to do this and meets us in our dissatisfaction and constant need for more. This is why God gave us his Son. We are always turned in on our own needs and wants, we are selfish, and we are a complaining people and God still loves us anyway!
In our Baptism, we were claimed as children of God even in all our sin. In Holy Communion, we are fed and nourished with manna from heaven even when we want more. At the cross, we see the love of God in the outstretched arms of Christ Jesus.
In all these places, we bring our complaining selves, and we are reminded of the length that God will go to bring us to him, even if we can’t always acknowledge it. Thanks be to God that we receive abundant life, grace and forgiveness — even in times when we can’t see the extravagant abundance God provides for us.
- When have you thought that God’s grace was not enough? How did God open your eyes to see abundance rather than scarcity?
- Where do you see abundance in God’s creation? How do you give thanks and offer praise to God for these gifts?
- How might you point to God’s abundant life and grace with your life? In your congregation?
Justin Johnson is the pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Geneseo, N.Y.