SPIRITUAL EUCHARIST

SPIRITUAL EUCHARIST

When we think of feeding, we automatically relate to the stomach and material food, even when the topic is connected with God. Our material focus on food limits our understanding of what Jesus really meant when He spoke of food, even in the context of His Word. What does the Word have to do with feeding? There’s nothing material about the Word, and it can’t do anything for our stomachs.

According to God, man possesses a soul, an attribute more precious and important by far than a stomach, or, in fact, anything material about our body. The salvation of God, that enormous thing that Jesus died on the cross for, applies to the soul rather than to the body. In the spiritual realm, the material part of man is of little or no importance next to the soul. The Word of God, then, insofar as it leads to salvation, and, following that, an ongoing relationship with God, is an input, a nourishment, of the soul. It is spiritual food, without which the soul would wither and die. In that sense, the Word is the most important food that we can obtain. Despite the demanding nature of our stomachs, material food is of far less consequence to our well-being than the Word of God.

Jesus Himself made a direct association of His Word with food. Further, John notes in His Prologue (verses 1-18 of John 1) that Jesus is the Word of God, the very embodiment of it.

In John 6:30-35, for example, Jesus equates Himself with the Bread of Life:

“They said, therefore, unto him, What sign showest thou, then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Again, in John 6:48 Jesus equates Himself with the bread of life, embellishing on its spiritual importance in verse 51:

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

In response to this declaration, there were people that just couldn’t lift themselves out of the material world sufficiently to comprehend the spiritual nature of Jesus’ claim:

“The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

A good many Christians, including pastors and theologians from the time that Jesus spoke until and including the present day, undoubtedly have voiced the same question with respect to this passage in John’s Gospel.

Significantly, in John’s Gospel, Jesus equated Himself, and thus His Word, with bread just after performing two miracles, both of which were intimately related to the connection among Peter, Jesus and God’s sharing of His glory with man. The first of these miracles was Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. The second was Jesus’ walking on water and Peter’s short-lived accomplishment of the same, an act that will be discussed later.

In Luke 22:15-20, Jesus again associates Himself, by inference the living Word of God, with food and wine:

“And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat of it, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

The communion ritual of the Eucharist has been passed down in the Church to this day in honor of these words of Jesus. But for both Catholics and Protestants alike it is seen as an act unrelated to the understanding of Jesus as the Word of God. The deeper meaning of the Eucharist, however, is spiritual, as defined by Jesus in linking His blood with the New Testament. We partake of this Eucharist as we partake of our daily bread: by digesting Jesus’ Word in our hearts and living it.

There is another passage in Scripture, this time in Revelation 10:9-11, that treats the Word of God as spiritual food:

“And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little scroll. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little scroll out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, and as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again about many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”

That Jesus considered the spiritual food of the Word to be of like nature but far more significant and real than physical food is demonstrated in Matthew 4:2-4, when, after Jesus fasted in the wilderness, satan approached Him, tempting Him:

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

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