You Are What You Eat
by Jonathan Bailey
“Christians feed on Scripture. Holy Scripture nurtures the holy community as food nurtures the human body. Christians don’t simply learn or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son. Readers become what they read.”
Eat This Book
Just like readers become what they read; I believe we are what we eat. I guess in a real literal sense that is true when we start deconstructing everything from chicken and slurpees, calories and carbs, molecules and atoms. But I want to use this phrase in discussing communion. Communion is called many things for example, the Eucharist, Holy Mass, Passover, or the Lord’s Supper. But I like to refer to it as the Jesus meal.
This is not a meal we eat with Jesus; Jesus is the meal!
We eat His body and we drink His blood. It sounds pretty gruesome, but Jesus uses such a strong illustration to highlight the enormous importance of getting Jesus’ life inside our bodies. I think this is one of the major points of communion. I want Him inside of me and the best way to do that is to ingest Him. One of the cool things about communion is it’s rootedness in God’s story with His chosen people, the Israelites.
Mark 14.12 says, the disciples were planning for the Passover meal. So, communion or the Jesus meal is going to take place on the night of Passover. Now the Jews had been celebrating Passover for a thousand years so this story goes all the way back to Moses and when the Israelites were enslaved to Egypt. Let’s look at a few verses from that first Passover.
Moses says to Pharaoh in Exodus 11.4, “Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the first born in the land of Egypt shall die.'” Jesus was Mary’s first born. And it is on this night that he is going to be led away to be killed. So Jesus is helping the disciples see that this is not a new story, but the fulfillment of the old story.
God tells Moses and Aaron in Exodus 12 to “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, on the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves…Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old…the congregation is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night.”
So, the lamb that is killed is unblemished (prized and valuable) and it is the sacrifice as well as the meal. The meal part is really what I am trying to get at. We desperately need to consume the sacrifice as well as assimilate and internalize it, by the Spirit, into our daily lives. It is not merely just reminding ourselves of the sacrifice but ingesting it and allowing it to nourish and sustain us.
Back to Mark 14, Jesus says, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the many.” What is this covenant? Is it the old covenant or the new? I think it’s the new. Jesus is making a new covenant and his plan is to be a sacrifice and also a meal. Jesus dies on the cross and becomes our sacrifice and punishment. But one of the great things about the covenant, is it also includes Jesus doing something on the inside of us. There is going to be a reformation of our inner nature–our hearts and souls.
Jeremiah 31.31-33 says it so well:
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
There is a new covenant that God brought to us in Jesus and it was to put His law inside of us and to write it on our hearts. The law is not something that is going to be on a wall or in a book that I am going to have to read, study or consult with. It is going to be alive and inside of me via Jesus’ Spirit. So what this means is I will naturally, easily and routinely live out the law. Which ends up being summed in one saying, “Love God and love others.”
How does this happen? We consume Jesus. Jesus says in John 6.63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” As we listen to Jesus and read His red words the Spirit gives life. So, one of the central ways we do this is by eating our meals whether it be bread and wine or party burritos and water in faith and trust that Jesus is going to fill us. He forgave us to fill us. And what we need so desperately is to be filled with Him. I will leave you with one more statement from Jesus the king of kings and the Meal of meals.
“53 So 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 yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55“For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
Seek the kingdom,