A hungry person doesn’t need to be told to eat. The hunger he feels drives him of necessity to find nourishment. If adequate nourishment is not found, the end result is death by starvation. Spiritual life is no different than physical in that respect. If proper spiritual nourishment is not found, the end result is spiritual death. The only difference between the physical and the spiritual is that most people do not feed their spiritual hunger, either because they do not recognize that particular feeling of emptiness for what it is or they feel the pain of spiritual hunger but do not know how to satisfy the need adequately. The Bible describes spiritual food in several ways.
First, there is the body and blood of the Lord (John 6:51-58). Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). Jesus was not here speaking of His Supper (which we will consider forthwith), for He had not yet instituted it. Nor was He advocating cannibalism here, which is against everything for which the Lord stands. The suggestion of eating His flesh and drinking His blood would have startled the Jews who were commanded not to eat of such literally, but Jesus was emphasizing that we have to assimilate all of Jesus into our lives. We must partake of and fellowship in His life and His death (Gal. 2:20; II Cor. 4:10,11). It is all or nothing with Christ.
Second, there is the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-29). Jesus said “Take, eat…This do in remembrance of Me” (I Cor. 11:24). Thus, this meal and its emblems is designed to focus our minds and hearts on the sacrifice of Christ. It shows our communion with the Lord (I Cor. 10:14-16). We are encouraged by this “meal” to examine ourselves, taking of it in a worthy manner, discerning the Lord’s body (I Cor. 11:28,29). While all meals should have a spiritual significance, it is especially true of the Lord’s Supper.
Third, Jesus describes Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:47-51, 58). While the fathers had been sustained in the wilderness with miraculous Manna sent down by God from heaven, those who ate of it, afterwards died (v. 49). But Jesus declares Himself to be the Bread sent down from heaven which, if one eats, he shall never die (John 6:50,51).
Fourth, there is the living water (John 4:10-14). To a thirsty man, water is more precious than gold. Anyone who has ever been truly thirsty to the point of being parched understands the importance of water to the preservation of life. Jesus says that to drink of this water causes one to never thirst again (John 4:13). When we come to know the sweetness of the Truth of God, the refreshing nature of God’s salvation, we will never want to drink a drop from any other well. All other water is bitter and full of disease. And one day, if we are faithful, we will be able to drink of the fountain of the water of life freely (Rev. 22:1; 21:6).
Fifth, there is milk (I Pet. 2:2). Milk is for those who are young in the faith. But every child thirsts after milk, and cries for it when he does not have it. So should it be for the one has just obeyed the gospel. We ought to have the same attitude as that little baby who wants to be fed. We should desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18). How many people have obeyed the gospel and never sought after any further nourishment? Or, how many times have we left a child in the faith starve to death because we never supplied them with the opportunities for feeding or gave them food that was not fit?
Sixth, there is strong meat (Heb. 5:11-14). At some point in our Christian lives we should outgrow the milk of the word and move on to that which is stronger and more fulfilling. A grown-up needs to outgrow childish things (I Cor. 13:11). But some Christians like to keep sipping on their bottle of milk all their lives. This does not prepare one for the bigger issues they will face as a Christian. Not eating meat means we are stagnant in our growth. It means we are carnal and not spiritual (I Cor. 3:1,2).
Finally, there is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). As we grow in Christ, we will feast on the wonderfully delicious fruits of the Spirit, like love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. We, ourselves then, will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). As God’s word takes greater control of our lives, we will bear these fruit to the glory of God.
Ready to eat?
Eric L. Padgett