What Would Jesus Eat?

Sharifa Stevens's picture

The freshness of the New Year is a reminder that God lavishes us with life, provision, and new mercies. At the time of the Exodus, Yahweh told the people of Israel to pick up just enough manna each day for their households, six days a week. He gave enough for every day--no need to worry, no need to hoard, no need to gorge.

Fast-forward to now: January is a time of dieting in America, with 500-calorie-a-day menus, hot pepper and water detoxes, and 40-day cleanses. Many of these regimens are even referred to as “fasts.” I don’t personally advocate these methods, but I do not believe they are sinful. Nor do I believe they are fasts.

Here's what I have learned about fasting:

1. It's not essential to the Christian life. There are commands that Jesus gave: making disciples, baptizing, teaching (Matthew 28:19), remembering His death through communion (Luke 22:19-20), loving God and loving one another (Matt 22:37-40). These are essential to walking with God.

Fasting is not mandatory, but it is a beautiful act of worship and a demonstration of dependence on God. In the Old Testament, people fasted for a time as a way to devote themselves to God. In the New Testament, fasting, along with prayer, was a weapon wielded to cast out demons (Matthew 17:14-21 and Mark 9:17-29). It was also mentioned in terms of short-term sexual abstinence (1 Corinthians 7:5-6), so that a couple could (for a time) dedicate themselves to prayer.

2. Which leads me to my next point: Fasting is not just about not eating food. It can be abstaining from sex or from a certain food or activity for a finite amount of time.

3. Fasting is private. If you brag about it to gain the praise or pity of other people, it’s pointless. You might as well go eat that burger. Matthew 6:16-18 says: "When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you."

4. Fasting is associated with prayer. The desire for whatever we’re abstaining from drives us to talk to God. The Holy Spirit can work through this process. It is important to be familiar with the Word of God--the Bible--because the enemy likes to take advantage of our hunger to set us on a path of destruction. Luke 4:1-13 testifies to that.

5. Fasting is not dieting. Fasting is a mode of worship; dieting is a mode of weight reduction.

Would Jesus be on a diet? A quick look at the Bible reveals that since the Garden of Eden, God has loved for people to enjoy the taste and look of food (Genesis 2:9). Psalm 34:8 enthusiastically describes the worship and acknowledgment of God by saying, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” When Solomon wanted to describe the beauty and sumptuousness of love-making, he chose dates and raisins, milk and wine as some of his metaphors.

God also incorporates food into our worship and remembrance of His rescuing love for us. Before the Exodus, the people of Israel experienced their first Passover, with hyssop, roasted lamb, and unleavened bread--a sensory metaphor of the One who would come and die for their deliverance. Yahweh chose to symbolize atonement for sin through the sacrifice of choice animals; they were a sweet savor to Him. When Jesus did come, He introduced the disciples to communion, symbolizing the way His body would be broken for us, and explicitly asked us to worship, with food, to remember him.

One of the ways that Jesus proved to his disciples that He had resurrected and wasn’t just a ghost was by grilling fish on the beach and eating with his friends, just like old times.

Jesus intends to celebrate our reunion with Him by throwing a huge party, and there will be wine. Jesus, in fact, will abstain from the pleasure of wine until we’re all together (Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 2).

From cover to cover of the Bible, the Lord has united our bodies and souls when it comes to worshiping Him and enjoying what He created. How we eat and care for our bodies is a reflection of our reverence for God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV)

I’m challenged to make my eating habits a part of my “true and proper worship.” Mind you, dietary restrictions do not bring us closer to God in and of themselves (check Paul’s take on this in 1 Corinthians 8:8 and Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Mark 7:18-20). If it did, our righteousness would be weighed by scales, calipers, and mirrors. Thanks be to God that our work, or work-outs, don’t earn us salvation; only the sacrifice of Jesus can cover us. Only the work of the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word can increase our intimacy with God.

I can, however, show Him that I appreciate what He gave me as a response to His mercy and kindness by putting food in its proper place. It is a sign of God’s provision, so it is to be enjoyed. As with any good gift of God, it is to be utilized but not abused, so it should be consumed in moderation. It is not God, nor is it capable of comforting or covering, so it should not be treated as an idol.

I believe that God’s ideal for us is to enjoy rather than abuse our food and our bodies. He intends for us to live eternally with both. If a diet helps us to retain proper stewardship of the body, it is good! If food restriction is a desperate attempt at gaining control or approval, it is not good.

God has prepared a veritable table before us. Food is not our enemy. Let’s put our daily bread back in its place--a creation to be harnessed and enjoyed.

 

(This is a blog post I wrote that originally appeared in Manna Express Online, a magazine written by members the Christian diaspora.)

Comments

Good Morning Ms. Stevens. Judging by the enjoyable flow and thorough presentation your writing must surely be annointed by the Holy Spirit. I had just written a lengthy comment but lost it when I switched to "preview" and hit my browser's "back" button to come back to the blog; now I won't try to repeat all of it but I have been blessed this morning by reading your presentation of God's Word in this format.

I am new to Bible.org but not a novice in the service of the Lord; however, it has been only in the past decade that the Holy Spirit taught me (through annointed preaching and the Spirit's witness) that I have lived much of my life caught up in legalism. It is for this reason I comment that I now understand how to "worship God in truth and in spirit" and your reference to giving as a form of worship brings to my mind how the Spirit has been dealing with my wife and me about giving faithfully as a wonderful way to worship Him privately. As Jesus taught us to get into our prayer closet to pray and not to give alms to be seen of men, and etc., He wants to bless us with the joy of the Lord that comes from worshipping Him in so many ways. Again, thank you for sharing the Word of God in this format; I enjoyed reading it and I have surely profited from it.

so, there will be food in eternal life. why, that's good: people from old times ago, like BC era, will be able to taste chocolate, a chance they never had during their lifetime. I wonder if there will be hunger?

Thank you, Irene F, for your comment. I enjoy reading others' written thoughts and it appears to me that you are doing something that I often encourage my family and friends to do: "Let you imagination explore thoughts and ideas about just how wonderful Heaven surely must be". Or, better put in an old song my daughter, Lisa, loves to sing: How Beautiful Heaven Must Be. As my son in law and I were discussing last Sunday, the blessed old apostle John saw a true Heavenly vision in the form of a glimpse into the beauties of Heaven and all he could do was to allow the Holy Spirit to annoint his very mind so that he could find and employ the most suitable vocabulary, including expressions of emotions, colors, etc., to describe what he was seeing "In the Spirit on the Lord's Day" as the Revelation begins.

Now, back down to Earth for a moment; no wait a minute while I correct myself. I was about to write that in Heaven we would probably "eat to live" rather than "live to eat"; but, I've changed my mind about that because I believe Heaven will be all about the JOY we can experience there that could not be found here on Earth. Perhaps that JOYFUL experience will include seeing, smelling, tasting, and being nourished by the most wonderful foods in God's Great Big House; isn't that exciting! 

Indeed brother, fasting is an act of connecting yourself to the community because you can feel the poor and it sure isn’t about dieting or losing weight. And fasting in holidays especially Christmas could do us as a country so good because we could learn about abstaining from food pleasure which will make us control our cravings for the holiday’s sweets. But all we actually do is learning how to put on weight and not in a healthy way rather we just eat whatever looks delicious not caring about how it will affect our body.

Not sure what would he eat but I guarantee he would make himself a great deal of quality wine!

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