Food: Appetite and Salvation History

Food is a huge part of our daily lives.  We don’t just eat food.  We watch people make it on T.V.  We take pictures of it.  We visit niche restaurants to discover new forms of it.  Food affects every part of human existence: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.  So, it should be no surprise that food plays a huge part in salvation history.

Have you ever thought about just how often food is mentioned in the Bible?  The Bible is a spiritual book, and yet it contains all kinds of laws laying out what things the Israelites could and couldn’t eat.  There are instructions about how to barbecue rams, bulls, and pigeons.  There are stories about feasts, miraculous multiplying of fish and loaves, beachside breakfasts, and wedding receptions.

Original Sin: They Ate the Food.

Even in the Garden of Eden, God was concerned with food.  The only clear prohibition God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden was a command about what to eat: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).  God could have prohibited swimming in the Tigris River. He could have outlawed the word “juicy.” He could have forbidden playing softball on Saturdays. However, he chose food as the test of mankind’s obedience.

God is a God who excels at connecting tangible and spiritual realities. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was an outward expression of the distortion of their inner appetites. They craved something other than God’s word. In the same way that a rotund child eyes up a moist cinnamon bun, the soul of mankind now has an appetite that craves sin. Man no longer has a healthy longing for what is supremely good. The things our souls now desire do not lead to life but death.

The Lord’s Supper: Eat This Food.

Food was central in man’s fall away from God. Not surprisingly, it was central in man’s reconciliation with God. In his last moments with the disciples before his death, Jesus shared a meal with them. The Lord took up the grain of the field and the fruit of the vine and said, “Take, eat…drink, all of you.”

eatMan’s appetites needed to be redeemed. In John 6, Jesus rebuked the crowds: “Do not labor for the food that perishes but for the food that leads to eternal life which the son of man will give to you.” At the Lord’s Table, the command of Jesus was spoken to our appetites: “Take, eat; this is my body…Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:26,27-28). No longer shall men crave worldly things–things that lead to death. At the death of Christ, our appetites are once more redirected to the only source of Life: the embodied Word of God.

In the Garden, food drove a wedge between God and man and between man and woman. Fittingly, the food of the Lord’s Table brings reconciliation through forgiveness of sins between God and man, and it also reconciles people with one another. Over a shared meal, many diverse members once again become one through Jesus Christ. Sharing one loaf of bread and sharing one cup of wine, we are unified as our appetites are drawn to the Savior.

The Wedding Feast: We Will Eat with Him.

Paul tells us that the Lord’s Supper isn’t the be-all end-all: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). The Lord’s Supper was never meant to satisfy the deepest hunger of our souls. It is a foretaste. The bread and wine keep our appetites focused on Jesus Christ; they feed the burning desire of our hearts for the return of our Savior.

The morsel of bread and sip of wine we share together in the absence of our Lord reminds us that one day we will feast in his presence: “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…’Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’” (Revelation 19:7,9). When the heavens and the earth are made new, what will mankind do with God? Sit down to eat. Man’s appetite will be once and for all fixed upon the Tree of Life, the Lord himself. He will satiate the hunger that he alone can feed by the power of his sustaining Word.

Man was given an appetite that can only be eternally satisfied. When Adam chose disobedience, he was doomed to wander the world seeking to fill the bottomless pit in his stomach. Nothing in all the universe can satisfy this hunger–only Jesus. When he returns, we will be satisfied forever with his eternal, sustaining, soul-satisfying presence. For he said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

(photo credit)

For more on appetites, check out “Obesity: Appetite for Destruction“.