As we approach the spring, we look forward to marvelling at the wonder of God’s creation around us. The explosion of life and the array of beauty we are treated to reinforces a real sense of awe as the natural world displays astonishing hallmarks of design. As we progress through the growing season in the UK, we are reminded of ‘food’ and you will have heard the expression ‘you are what you eat!’.
Just as bread is the source of energy and power for us physically, Jesus is the source of energy and power spiritually. Just as we feed on bread for physical survival, Jesus uses this as a metaphor for feeding on him for spiritual survival. We can have the most nutritious food possible in the kitchen, but it is of no use to us if we don’t actually eat it. It’s the same with your spiritual health – it’s no good having thousands of Bibles on your bookshelf if you don’t read them. It’s not good having all the access in the world to Jesus the Saviour, if we don’t actually approach him.
Although it may seem strange, there are a number of references to ‘eating’ God Word’s in the Bible:
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. (Jeremiah 15:16 NIV)
I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:101-103 NIV)
In fact, as bizarre as it sounds, there are two occasions in Scripture where God instructs someone to literally eat a scroll – this happened to Ezekiel:
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 3:1-3 NIV)
In the NT, the apostle John also had the same experience:
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. (Revelation 10:9-10 NIV)
We all sometimes listen to a sermon or Bible teaching (whether online or at church) and find it stimulating, engaging and entertaining – in other words, something that tastes really sweet. But what should happen next? We then need to respond and apply the passage to our lives. When that happens, it may not taste as sweet – and as we start to digest it, it may even start to taste a little sour as was the case for John. Be wary of Bible teaching that only ever tastes sweet!
It was the same when most people first met Jesus. It is not easy to dislike Jesus – he was kind, compassionate, loving and peaceful. He performed amazing signs and miracles. He was the defender of the oppressed and he silenced the hypocrites of the day. Everyone who experienced Jesus had a sweet taste in their mouths…to start with. But what happened next?
As Jesus’ teachings were digested, they demanded inward reflection and a costly response – at this point, the taste could turn a little sour. We read of this in John’s gospel where the crowds were following Jesus and after a particularly difficult teaching, it seems the taste turned from sweet to sour for some of his disciples:
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:66 NIV)
We should all be cautious of having a relationship with God that remains at a sweet and superficial level. Sometimes, God’s word may even taste a little sour as it demands change and sacrifice which is uncomfortable at times. It is always worth us asking ourselves in what areas the Lord may be leading us out of our comfort zones at a given time.
Danny recently preached a sermon with the title ‘You are what you eat!’ where looked at the difficult words of Jesus in John 6:51-59. Feel free to listen to this sermon below:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35 NIV)