This past Sunday in our adult Sunday School class we got on the topic of how food and eating are such an integral part of what we Christians consider “fellowship”. After church, we gather in the fellowship hall for coffee and juice, and donuts, cookies, cake, or other treats. (Note that we call it the “fellowship hall”) And when we go out with our fellow believers to share a time of fellowship, it invariably includes eating. One group from our church is actually meeting at a local coffee shop for a time of talking once a week, which of course means coffee or tea and food to eat. Our class leader even asked the question, “How many people would come to such a gathering if food were not included?”
Did you ever wonder why food and eating is such a big part of our church, and also of our faith?
It’s easy to see that food and drink are a part of it all, after all we celebrate Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist, by eating a piece of bread and drinking a bit of wine or grape juice. That’s an easy example, though for most of us it can hardly be considered a meal, as small as the portions are! Still, it’s eating and drinking.
But have you noticed how often in the Scriptures we see examples of food and eating, which are equated with some symbolic meaning? It starts all the way back in the early chapters of Genesis, when Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It symbolized their rebellion against God and so their fall from His Grace.
But move a little farther along and you will notice how Abram, when he sees the angels arrive at his camp, quickly speaks to his wife Sarai and tells her to bake a large volume of bread for them so they can eat and be rested and refreshed before they continue on their journey. It was a matter of hospitality in that culture in those ancient days. That was what you did when strangers come along. This kind of thing is very common in the Old Testament.
And of course there is the example of the Passover Feast, which is to commemorate the passing-over of the destroyer on that terrible night when God sent the destroyer to kill all the first born of the Egyptians. The Passover is still celebrated every year by the Jewish people, thousands of years later.
In Jesus’ ministry we often see him eating and drinking with his followers, and also the Pharisees and Saducees, and also the sinners and tax collectors. Two of his miracles involved his feeding of 5000 and 4000 people from just a tiny seed of food, like five little buns and two small fish.
Shockingly, Jesus spoke of himself as being the bread that comes down from heaven, and tells us that we must eat his body and drink his blood; though fortunately it is a spiritual eating and drinking he is talking about.
I always enjoy reading the end of the Gospels where Jesus proves he still has a physical body by eating a fish. And also in John 21 we find Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where he has started a charcoal fire and baked a breakfast of fish and bread for his disciples.
Did you realize all the food-related things in the Bible? This is probably just the tip of the iceberg!
And even at the very end of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, we discover that we who are followers of Jesus will join him in heaven for the greatest meal of all time, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb!
Has thinking about the Faith ever made your mouth water? Maybe it will now!