More Than Food

The next time you sit down to eat a meal, stop, and think about the theological significance of what you are doing.  Have you ever applied the full weight of our biblical worldview to the practice of eating?  Ken Myers, the host of the Mars Hill Audio Journal, draws attention to the fact that the consumption of food is packed with theological significance.  Think about it, God could have made us like the plants of the field—we would simply stand out in the sun for a period of time and photosynthetically collect the energy we need.  Instead, God made us so that we must consume food.  Moreover, God could have made our appetite for food much like that of an animal—simply consume whatever is at hand regardless of the taste.  Instead, when we eat we often employ all of the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.  God gave us the ability to enjoy the created order through our ability to eat food.  This, however, is not the only theological aspect of food.

Think about the centrality of eating to the warp and woof of redemptive history.  It was eating forbidden fruit (Gen. 3.1ff) that was the occasion for man’s fall into sin.  When the pre-incarnate Christ visited Abraham to confirm God’s promise that he would have a son the visit was occasioned by a meal (Gen. 18.1ff).  On the eve of the Israelite deliverance from bondage in Egypt God had His people celebrate their redemption with a meal, the Passover (Exo. 12.1ff).  The centrality of eating continues in the New Testament.  Christ often shared a meal with people during His ministry (Matt. 11.19).  While He was teaching He performed two great miracles and fed two large crowds of people (Matt. 14.21; 15.38).  Just as the exodus was the pinnacle of Old Testament redemptive history so too was Christ’s death on the cross the zenith of redemptive history in the New Testament.  Likewise, just as the exodus was celebrated with the Passover meal, so too is Christ’s death remembered with a meal, the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26.26).  After Christ was raised from the dead He made numerous appearances to His disciples; on one occasion Christ cooked breakfast for them (John 21.12ff).  Why is eating so central to redemptive history?  The answer most likely comes from the last book of the Bible.

In Revelation, the culminating event of redemptive history for the people of God is the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19.9).  It is at this great meal where Christ will gather with His people and once again drink of the fruit of the vine in celebration of His victory and our redemption (Matt. 26.29).  All of these facts should give us pause the next time we sit down to eat a meal.

Unfortunately, many of us take a rather utilitarian approach to the consumption of food.  We eat to stop our stomachs from rumbling.  Moreover, families eat in isolation, on the run, or in front of the television.  When we do these things we miss out on a significant connection with redemptive history.  When we sit down to eat a meal, we should remember that the meal is, first, a reminder of God’s grace and provision.  Thousands starve in the world.  Second, we experience the creation of God in a way that we seldom get to: using all five senses in appreciation of the way in which God has made us.  Third, we should remember that each time we sit down we should do so in eager anticipation of our final redemption when we sit down at the great wedding supper of the Lamb where we will partake of the fruit of the vine with our Savior.  All of these things are wrapped up in food.  So, the next time the thought of gobbling down a burger as you drive to your next appointment crosses your mind, resist the temptation.  Sit down with your family, sit down with the people of God, pray in thanksgiving for God’s abundant provision, relish every morsel of food with every God-given sense, and meditate and look forward to that day when we will break bread with our Lord and celebrate His victory over sin and death!