Sunday, August 12, 2018

John 6.51-58: Bread...Again

Have you ever noticed how many times scripture talks about bread? Art&Faith Matters has talked about it here and here and here and here. And just for good measure, there is manna here. There is lots of bread in scripture, and in John 6:51-58 a connecting line is drawn between bread and manna:  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate...
Master of the Gathering of the Manna. Gathering of the Manna from the Ashburnam Pentateuch
The picture above is exactly what it describes (and the designation/naming of the artist is drawn from this work). What is interesting, I think, is the manner in which people are gathering the manna. Some are picking up the wafer-shaped manna from the ground. Men, women, and children are all engaged in the task. Babies are held in their mother's arms, and people embrace as the miracle occurs. This is clearly a celebration. As it should be. For the coming decades the people will be fed daily with manna and quail.

But there are others who are not waiting for the manna to fall. They have baskets raised in order to collect the manna as soon as possible. Compositionally, it works. The figure at the top center is positioned directly beneath the hole in the sky from which the manna falls. A dark funnel-shaped shadow leads directly to the opening of the vessel being held aloft. The dark shadow also highlights the light-colored manna as it falls. Others in the crowd echo his practice and position.

Jesus identified himself as the living bread that came down from heaven. How do we receive that bread? Do we wait for the bread to fall to the ground before we pick it up? Do we think, "Bread (or manna)...again"? Or do we reach above our heads in order to snag that bread out of mid-air so that we can have it at the earliest possible moment? There's a difference.

For thoughts on Solomon's request for wisdom, click here.
For one tradition's use of bread, see Food&Faith Matters here.

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