My incongruent logic—
Why would Jesus want us to eat unleavened bread (his body) and
drink fruit of the vine (his blood) in an effort to remember him?
ceremony in which he places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Similarly on July 4th many municipalities celebrate Independence Day with fireworks reminding us of the “rockets red glare and the bombs bursting in air.” Sometimes we need more than a moment of silence to make something more real and meaningful.
Furthermore, when it comes to other forms of worship none are completely independent of physical activity. Singing involves making a noise with our vocal cords that requires movement of air and constriction or relaxation of various muscles in the chest, larynx, pharynx, and face. There is physicality to prayer as well; sometimes more than others depending on the positions we assume (standing with arms up/down, kneeling, prostrate). I am reminded of the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Perhaps that was the most physical prayer ever, where Jesus knelt and being under so much stress he began to sweat like blood (Luke 22:41-44). Obviously, God never intended our worship or our obedience to be a solely mental/spiritual activity. We are not just spiritual beings. We are commanded to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and body.” (Mark 12:30) Paul encourages us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices” (Rom 12:1) showing that we must worship and obey with our whole being.
But food has even deeper meaning. The bread and wine do not merely serve as a physical catalyst by which we can relive the experience of that last Passover with the Lord. Food is more basic and when we realize that the Lord’s Supper is a real meal we can come to a deeper understanding of the Lord’s Table.
|Dynamics of food and life
Consider how sin perverts our sense of taste for God’s food. The devil can only deceive us into thinking God is selfish, as if he is withholding good food from his table. Unfortunately Eve bought into this line of reasoning (Gen 3:1-7). We know better. The table of the Lord is a much different setting. Food is a blessing from God. Consider how the “land promise” is described fourteen times in the Torah; “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 3:8, Deut 6:3). This bounty describes the Lord’s generosity at his table. This is nowhere more obvious than when we consume the food that is God in the Lord’s Supper.
But we are not the only ones who are hungry. There is an interesting story in 2 Kings 1 involving ailing Ahaziah. He seeks to inquire of a god of Ekron. The name of that god is revealing; Beelzebub means “lord of flies.” It is no coincidence that a derivative of this name comes to describe the prince of demons in the time of Jesus; Baalzebub (Matt 10:25, 12:24-27) means “lord of dung.” Like you, I have swatted many a fly away from my food and witnessed how flies and dung are related. Like flies, Satan is hungry and seeks to feed off of the good things that God has made hoping that he can deceive you and I into giving it up. If we let him, he will turn it into dung.
Perhaps Peter describes it best. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). The devil is hungry. He can’t provide food for himself, so what will he dine on?
C.S. Lewis illustrates this poignantly in his short sequel “Screwtape Proposes a Toast.” In this story, Screwtape is a “very experienced devil” that, as the guest of honor, proposes a toast at the “graduation” of the “Tempters Training College of young devils.” At the feast, Screwtape bemoans the fact that the meal is rather tasteless. They are feasting on the souls of people who have fallen victim to the devil’s trap but only barely. Screwtape longs for the tastiest of sinners who are full of villany and terrible evils.
Perhaps Satan’s hunger is portrayed most clearly in Dan 6. Daniel is an antetype of Christ in that Daniel was cast into the lion’s den (the antetype of the grave and hell) only to be raised out of the pit as an antetype of the resurrection. He was preserved from the lions because he was innocent before God. After Daniel was “resurrected” the people who setup Daniel were thrown into the lions den and there we get a picture of the devil’s ravenous appetite.
At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
If we are not hungry for God, then maybe we have been deceived into craving bad food. Ultimately, if we do not feed on the Lord, we might as well feed on dung, because the “lord of flies” will feed on us
(1 Pet 5:8).
Eating and drinking at the Lord’s table reveals the generosity of God. He is a giving God; a loving God. He is our creator and provider. The Lord fulfills all of our righteous hunger. He has spread a rich banquet table before us both physical and spiritual.
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!”