Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spiritual Consumption: Fasting and Feeding

John 4:34 relates a startling teaching that comes from the private life and heart of Jesus. The disciples full of worry and consideration take a trip into the Samaritan town of Sychar in order to purchase food for Jesus, but when they return, He refuses the food they offer saying, "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work." His statement reveals that Jesus was sustained and nourished by the will of God, the context reveals that He was so uplifted and so strengthened by this task and its accomplishment that His physical body could do without food.

An earlier event reveals the same truth. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness during a 40 day fast, Satan tempts Him in His hunger by telling Him to turn stones into bread, Jesus answers, "It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" Matthew 4:4. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 which reminds Israel of the manna in the desert when God provided food by the command of His word. Similarly, Jesus lived by the command of God's word and was fed by it. The intersecting relationship between the word and will of God is developed in the Bible as is its ability to nourish the soul and the spirit to the point that the physical body can be neglected.

Job 23:12 inspires us to treasure God's word more than food. In application, to be more faithful in reading it than we are to eat lunch, to be more hungry for it than we are for our physical meals.

Psalm 119:103 reveals the sweetness and the pleasure of consuming God's word in a metaphor that parallels our own delight and pleasure in sweets and our cravings for certain foods.

Jesus than makes a further connection in John 6:48-59, revealing a more dire relationship and a more frightening truth. He says something that frightens and confuses all of His followers except the twelve. All are turned away by the shocking nature of the truth he reveals:

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living breadthat came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
 52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." 59Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Jesus was the word of God made flesh. He was the will of God in full revelation. He was the treasure of God's heart and the delight of His mouth and His soul. The same word that Jesus quotes in Deuteronomy 8:3 is illuminated by Jesus's reference to manna in John 6. The crowd only wants bread. They follow Jesus because he multiplied the loaves and they received food to eat. They are in awe of the physical bread, the manna, that God produced. Then Jesus reveals Himself as the bread they must consume. He is the word and the will that must be eaten. His flesh and His blood become the subject of our spiritual consumption, and we need nothing else, for even from the word of His mouth the food we eat is provided.

These passages are so rich. Their are depths and mysteries to them I dare not touch in a single blog post, but I am inspired to consume the word of God. These passages relate to relationship, communion, Bible study, prayer, blessing, provision and so much more. I am inflamed to partake of Jesus Christ, to abide in him through consuming His flesh and His blood, His word and His will. Does His word so fascinate us that we can skip a meal or fast for even longer sustained by the Word?

The Bible brings us into communication with God as we are fed by His word and respond to what He says. Prayer brings a more direct level of relationship as we enter into the secret place of petition and adoration, seeking for an intimacy where we feel God's heartbeat and the response of His love for us. This relationship strengthens and sustains. It's more desperately needed and more desirable than our daily meals. Even as Jesus fasted, we can fast on physical food even as we feed on a greater portion of the the Bread of Life. With prayer on our lips and the Bible on our plate our physical bodies gain strength in the absence of physical food but in the presence of the living Word, who is Christ, our portion.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, I found that this feed me well this morning. God Bless you!