Exodus 16:13–36, John 6:29–41

Who’s On First? was a comedy routine honed and made famous by the comedy team of Abbot and Costello. It is a masterful—and frustrating—play on words.

Mana ≈ What is it?

How would you like your food—for 40 years, no less—to be named, “what is it?” Imagine teaching a child the language, and how confused the poor child would be when they asked, “what is it?” And the answer was, “exactly” or “yes”.

“What is it?” was a daily food for 40 years. It behaved differently than normal food. 6 days a week it appeared, and on 1 of those days you gathered twice more than you did on the other five days, and it lasted for 2 days, even though that which was gathered on other days rotted. “What is it?” is both a great question and a great answer.

“What is it” was the nourishment of God. It was a daily reminder that they were daily dependent upon God. There was no question that without God’s provision, the Israelites would have been in deep trouble. One would think that after 40 years, especially the children who were raised with it, would have an ingrained understanding and habit that God is the provider. It is reasonable to assume that these same people would not have been self-reliant, independent, or quick to turn away from God. One could make those assumptions. One would be wrong.

“What is it” wasn’t just a question regarding the food, it was also a philosophical question. “What is it” defined the patterns of the Israelites. In so doing, it placed the Israelites in the context of God. “What is it” defined what it means to eat from the table of God.

“What is it” also is fitting when it comes to the Bread of Heaven—Jesus. There have been many theological arguments over what exactly is Communion. When we “eat of the body” and “drink of the blood”, is it literal, spiritual, symbolic, mere ritual, a mystery…what is it?

1) Does “what is it” drive you a little crazy? Do you need to have an answer?

2) Why is it important to allow “what is it” with our walk with God?

3) When we think of “manna”, we don’t think of “what is it”. What other little things are we missing when we read the Scriptures?