John 6:31 MEANING

John 6:31
(31) Our fathers did eat manna.--He claims to be the Messiah; but the Messiah was to be greater than Moses, and the sign He has shown is less. The Messiah was to cause manna again to fall from heaven, as their Rabbis taught. They had eaten food which, if miraculously multiplied, was still the food of earth--the common bread and common relish--and this on the grassy sward not far removed from the habitations of men. Their fathers had eaten the manna which came direct from God, and was gathered from the granite rocks of the desert; and the Psalmist had told, and Hebrew children loved to chant, that "bread from heaven was that which He gave them to eat."

Verse 31. - Our fathers, they continued, ate the manna in the wilderness; even as it has been written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. If Moses did this, the Christ should do more, seeing he makes this exhaustive claim upon our faith. The manna (see Exodus 16; Numbers 11.) appeared like the hoar frost out of heaven. It was gifted with numerous qualities - perishable if not immediately used, respecting in mysterious way the sabbath sanctity, attending the Israelites through their forty years" wandering, terminating when no longer wanted, utterly unlike, in quantity and quality, to what is the Oriental manna of commerce (Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' art. "Manna"). The psalmists spoke of it (Psalm 78:24; Psalm 105:40) as virtually coming down out of heaven, as "corn of heaven," as "angels' food." The Targum of Jonathan, Deuteronomy 34:6, says, "God caused bread to descend from heaven upon the sons of Israel," and a rabbinical commentary on Ecclesiastes, quoted by Lightfoot and Wettestein: "Redemptor prior descendere fecit pro iis manna; sic et Redemptor posterior descendere faciet manna." Consequently, they make the challenge, not as though Jesus had done no sign, but as though he had not done enough to put himself on an equality with Moses.

6:28-35 Constant exercise of faith in Christ, is the most important and difficult part of the obedience required from us, as sinners seeking salvation. When by his grace we are enabled to live a life of faith in the Son of God, holy tempers follow, and acceptable services may be done. God, even his Father, who gave their fathers that food from heaven to support their natural lives, now gave them the true Bread for the salvation of their souls. Coming to Jesus, and believing on him, signify the same. Christ shows that he is the true Bread; he is to the soul what bread is to the body, nourishes and supports the spiritual life. He is the Bread of God. Bread which the Father gives, which he has made to be the food of our souls. Bread nourishes only by the powers of a living body; but Christ is himself living Bread, and nourishes by his own power. The doctrine of Christ crucified is now as strengthening and comforting to a believer as ever it was. He is the Bread which came down from heaven. It denotes the Divinity of Christ's person and his authority; also, the Divine origin of all the good which flows to us through him. May we with understanding and earnestness say, Lord, evermore give us this Bread.Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness,.... Which was a sort of food prepared by angels in the air, and rained down from thence about the tents of the Israelites; it was a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground; it was like a coriander seed, and the colour of it was the colour of bdellium: it was so called, either from "to prepare", because it was prepared, and got ready for the Israelites; or from the first words that were spoken upon sight of it, , "what is it?" for they knew not what it was: and this the Jewish fathers fed upon all the while they were in the wilderness, till they came to Canaan's land, and they only; it was food peculiar to them: "our fathers did eat"; and so the Jews (f) observe on those words in Exodus 16:35,

""and the children of Israel did eat manna forty years"; the children of Israel, , "not another". And the children of Israel saw, and said, what is it? and not the rest of the mixed multitude.''

Now these Jews object this miracle to Christ, and intimate, that he indeed had fed five thousand of them with barley loaves, and fishes, for one meal; but their fathers, in the times of Moses, to the number of six hundred thousand, and more, were fed, and that with manna, very sweet and delightful food, and for the space of forty years; even all the white they were in the wilderness: and therefore, unless he wrought as great a miracle, or a greater than this, and that of the like kind, they should not think fit to relinquish Moses, and follow him; and in proof of what they said, they produce Scripture,

as it is written in Psalm 78:24, or rather in Exodus 16:15; and perhaps both places may be respected:

he gave them bread from heaven to eat; they leave out the word Lord, being willing it should be understood of Moses, to whom they ascribed it, as appears from the following words of Christ, who denies that Moses gave it; and add the phrase "from heaven", to set forth the excellent nature of it, which is taken from Exodus 16:4, where the manna, as here, is called "bread from heaven".

(f) Zohar in Exod. fol. 75. 2.

Courtesy of Open Bible