Food. We have a love-hate relationship with it here in first-world America. Oh, how we love it, but oh, how we talk about how bad it can be. We put so many labels on food that the labels have labels but that “garbage” still sells out. Restaurants are always busy because we love to eat, but don’t have the time to cook. And if your family is like mine, we often make decisions around how it will affect meal time. Holidays and celebrations often center around food. Yes, as the saying goes, do you live to eat or eat to live? And I think for many of us it is hard to tell the difference.
But in some ways we were designed like this. God designed us so that we could require nourishment and he gave us tasted buds to enjoy it (but of course our sin nature ruins everything). And let’s be honest, food is a recurring topic in the Bible. From the very beginning, Adam and Eve were told what they couldn’t eat. The Israelites were provided with manna from the sky. Daniel showed the power of God through his choice in diet. Jesus’s first miracle was to turn water to wine. He chose to feed the 5000 because he knew the importance of meeting that physical need. And then he even refers to himself as the bread of life and the living water. And these are just the instances I can think of off the top of my head. I know there are countless more where food plays a role in scripture.
The God-breathed scriptures are appealing to our human nature through this reoccurring theme of food. God designed us and He knew it was something that we would understand, something that we could relate to.
So as I was preparing for last weeks blog, I came across a verse I felt like I was seeing for the first time. I was reading all scriptures that had to do with abiding, which as you can imagine I have done many times before. But this verse definitely caught me:
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
Well, let’s be honest. My first thought was eeeeewwwww. But I have been in church all my life. I have taken communion many times. I was familiar with this terminology. I knew the scripture was not meant to be taken literally and I knew this referenced Jesus’s crucifixion. It still, however, got me thinking. One, because it seemed to provide another instruction in the daily abiding category, and two because as I said before – even with my background knowledge – it was just a strange thought. I made note of the scripture and finished the current blog I was working on.
As God would have it, I didn’t not have anything in my idea bank for this week’s blog, so I went back to this scripture. I felt like there was something more to find from this scripture and quite frankly, I wanted to research more of this “eat my flesh” thinking.
Coincidently (or God designed), just last week I was pondering on my energy level – or lack thereof – and how each day I seemed to have just enough energy to carry me to the next day. I rarely had any energy left over. It reminded me of the Israelites and how God gave them just enough manna for the day and they were never to keep anything extra. I understand He did that so they would depend on Him daily and recognize that God was their provider. So, I thought, is that what you need me to recognize, God?
And then as I researched John 6: 52-59, one of the first places I ended up was the scripture about God providing the manna. I started to make some connections.
In Matthew 4:4, we are told that man cannot live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. So maybe we are forgetting about finding nourishment in the most essential place? Yes, we require food to live but that may not be where we find the most nourishment.
So let me ask you this? Is your Jesus diet providing the nourishment that you need? Are your feeding on the flesh and drinking the blood? Or are you skipping over them for the quick satisfying “foods” of the world? Let me say, if you Jesus diet is not balanced, if you are not putting enough Jesus into you, then you will not be nourished. You will not be healthy.
So what should your Jesus diet look like? What does it look like to feed on the flesh, drink the blood, and life on the word.
Our Daily Bread
Well, in Matthew 6:11, as part of the Lord’s Prayer, it says “Give us this day our daily bread.” I know most of us assume and it seemed implied that we are asking God to meet our daily needs, like food and other necessities. But let’s not overlook the fact that Jesus does call himself the bread of life. If we change that verse just a tad and now it reads, “Give us this day our daily bread of life,” it takes on a new meaning and quite honestly packs a bigger punch. I don’t know about you, but I need the bread of life daily – I mean my coffee can only take me so far.
So let’s go back to the Israelites in the desert. God literally sent them their daily bread. We cannot miss the symbolism here. God wanted the Israelites to have that daily, continuous reminder that he was the provider, that he would take care of them, that he was always near And let’s be honest, their history proves that is what they needed. But we are no different. I may not need bread to fall from the sky, but I could use a verse or two to fall from the sky and knock me in the head at just the right moment. That sure would help my stubborn nature from time to time.
But don’t you see, just like with my energy level that I mentioned earlier, Jesus intentionally gives us just what we need to take us only so far. He wants us to feed on him DAILY. He gives us only enough for that day. I mean the scripture says his compassion is new every morning. We are not designed to fill up at church on Sunday and survive the rest of the week. When that is our diet, then that is what we are doing by the end of the week, just barely surviving, famished because all week we have fasted the wrong things and we have eaten things that do not nourish us, things that make us spiritually sick and unsettled.
Like eating three donuts for breakfast. They tasted so good at first, but the more they settle on your stomach, the heavier you feel and even then you are hungry again in a hour, looking for something else. Doesn’t Jesus even talk about that. Think about the woman at the well. She was feeding on many worldly ideas, looking to relationships to keep her satisfied, but if her past was any indication, that was not working. He told her, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst again.” She could do many things to try to satisfy her hunger, but only Jesus could eternally satisfy her.
While we do find eternal satisfaction through belief in Jesus, He still wants us to be like the Israelites who had to depend on His provision daily. He wants us to recognize that it is His provision getting us through, not just with actual food, but with spiritual food as well. He wants us to trust him. He wants us to demonstrate our faith in Him. He wants us to realize that only true love, joy, peace and a host of other things come from Him. And to have those things continually, then we have to feed on Him daily.
Feed On My Flesh
But let’s go back to that verse that caught my attention from the beginning. Jesus said, “whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood.” That is an entirely different picture than “give us our daily bread.” I mean I think about warm, gooey bread right out of the oven and the butter just melts right off of the edges. Yes, I think that and feeling up on that daily doesn’t sound bad at all. And while that is part of our Jesus diet, He also says eat my flesh and drink my blood. While I am a serious meat eater, this just don’t carry the same connotation as the bread. And I don’t think Jesus wants it to.
When He talks about His flesh and blood in this sense, He is referring to His broken body and His shed blood. He is referring to the cross. The cross is what enables us to really feed on Him daily through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Without the cross, our holy diet would look entirely different. And that is why Jesus wants our diet to include the cross. He wants everything we take in to be seasoned with the cross. He wants every situation we encounter to be seen through the filter of the cross. If someone one wrongs us, how does that compare to the cross? If we love someone, how is that intensified by the cross? If we are serving, how is that further demonstrated by the cross? Yes, a diet of the bread of life carries with it joy and peace and love, but love can be hard and so can a diet of the flesh of Jesus. He endured great heartache for us, and He is our model. Sometimes a diet of the flesh includes helpings of pain, humility, service, rejection and loss. But again, Jesus wants us to season these things with the cross. The cross gave all these things purpose. The cross gave us hope in the midst of our trouble. When we have a diet that includes feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood, we won’t always have an easy time, but we know we will always be satisfied in all He has to provide.
With A Little Fruit on the Side
When we learn to feed on Jesus daily, whether it be carb loading or protein packed, when we have a healthy, hungry, balanced daily diet of Jesus, then we begin to abide in Him. That is when He becomes a part of who we really are, demonstrated in our changing thought process and our actions. We are able to feel satisfied in the more challenging moments because we fed on hope earlier, because we seasoned our situation with the cross. And what happens when this abiding takes place? The scripture tells us that we will bear fruit. We will bear some tasty qualities that will in turn lead others to a Jesus diet.
We can bear fruit in many ways, like through our loving actions and uplifting attitude. If we are bearing fruit for Jesus, we will look different and others will come wanting to know what we are filling up on. I mean think about it. The fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – are certainly all by products of a Jesus diet. And these are also characteristics that we typically do not find in the world. When we display this fruit, others will want to know what we are eating. They will want to know how we can maintain peace in times of trouble or kindness in times of anger. As they search for those answers, we will be able to share our diet with them. We will be able to share Jesus with them.
But first, we must get our own diet straight. First, we must be eating right. Do we eat our daily bread? Are we seasoning everything with the cross? And in turn are we sharing our fruit? Even though some of the references may seem a little creepy at first, Jesus knew we would be able to relate to food references. He knew this would be something we understand, so while our knowledge of Him grows, our diet should improve as well.