January 5, 2020 Eating Christ

Eating Christ

 

Our scripture reading this morning is John 6:27-35; 48-57; 60-63. READ. PRAY.

 

[Illus] Every year the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese and 70 pounds of sugar. On average, 11 percent of our diet comes from saturated fats. Every day we eat 8,500 milligrams of salt—that's four whopping teaspoons of salt. In his book Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss shows that during the past two decades some of America's largest food producers carefully studied how to "help" us crave all this junk food. For example, some of the food industries biggest names--including Cambell Soup, General Foods, Kraft, PepsiCo, and Cadbury--hired "crave consultants" like the scientist Dr. Howard Moskowitz to help them determine our "bliss points," the point where food companies can "optimize" our cravings.

Or as another example, Frito-Lay, makers of Lay's potato chips and the 21 varieties of Cheetos, operated a research complex near Dallas that employed nearly 500 chemists, psychologists, and technicians and spent up to $30 million a year to find the bliss point for their junk foods. One food scientist called Cheetos "one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure." Cheetos has what's called "vanishing caloric density." In other words because it melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there's no calories in it, and you think you can just keep eating forever.

Interestingly, many of the former executives who Moss interviewed for his book avoid the foods they tried to get us to eat. Howard Moskowitz doesn't drink Pepsi products because he claims "[soda's] not good for your teeth." A Frito-Lay executive admitted to Moss that he avoids most processed foods—like Cheetos. Moss concluded, "Like other former food company executives I met, [this Frito-Lay executive] overhauled his diet to avoid the very foods he once worked so hard to perfect." The phenomenon of junk food, aside from being unhealthy, represents the great need in people to be satisfied. We do have a need to be satisfied but most people, including Christians, are trying to satisfy themselves with things that will not ultimately satisfy.

 

The passages we read this morning were spoken by Jesus during the time of the Passover. The Passover was a festive time as the Israelites remembered their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. It was a time of great feasting and celebration. It was a time of ostensible satisfaction. Jesus had just fed the five thousand and now many were seeking Him because they wanted more loaves.

 

You see, human nature has not changed in 2,000 years. Americans are seeking satisfaction in junk food today and the Israelites were seeking satisfaction in the simple staple of bread in Jesus’ time. But Jesus tells them not to labor for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life. What is this food? It is Christ Himself! He tells those who are seeking satisfaction to eat Him. Christ is real food and real drink.

 

We must eat Christ in order to find satisfaction.

 

 

First, we must eat Christ because we have a hunger and thirst. In verse 35 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall not thirst.” It is important to see that these are not one-time actions. As if I came to Christ in the past and now I will never hunger again. Or, I believed in Christ once and now I will never thirst again. This is true for at least three reasons.

  1. The word is in the present tense, not some form of the past tense.
  2. The word is a present, active participle. According to one of the leading Greek experts of our time, Daniel Wallace, present active participles carry the idea of continuous action. This denotation is missing from most English translations, although some more accurately accomplish their task such as Young’s Literal: And Jesus said to them, `I am the bread of life; he who is coming unto me may not hunger, and he who is believing in me may not thirst -- at any time; One could translate it: “I am the bread of life, the one continuing to come to me shall not hunger, and the one continuing to believe into me shall not thirst.”
  3. Thirdly, this is our human experience. Whenever we do not actively come to Christ we have a sense of dissatisfaction, a sense of hunger that we begin to try and fill with other things. And they never satisfy. Whenever we do not actively trust in Christ we have a sense of thirst. You see, the word “believe” means so much more than “agree with.” The Amplified version captures the biblical meaning of the word in this very verse: he who believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me will never thirst any more.

Therefore, in order to be filled and to have our thirst quenched we must continually come to Christ and enjoy Him as our food and as our drink. We need to come to Him daily and be nourished by Him.

 

This notion of eating Christ can be offensive to some people. If it is offensive to Westerners it was even more offensive to the Jews in Jesus’ day. In verse 60 the disciples said, “This is a hard saying.” They thought he referred to his literal flesh and blood. But in verse 63 he clarifies what he actually meant. He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” We eat Christ by taking in His words, by assimilating them, by allowing them to become a part of us, and by enjoying them.

 

[Illus] After a baby has been born the baby needs feeding. Mothers know that the best way to comfort and satisfy a baby is to nurse him with milk. In the same way, when we are born again we need the nourishment and comfort of milk and this milk is the word of God.

 

As Peter writes in his first epistle, 2:2 -- like newborn babies, long for the [a]pure [b]milk of the word, so that by it you may grow [c]in respect to salvation,

 

But when a baby gets to be two and three years old they still need to eat. They will start to eat some solid food in addition to milk. Eating will go on throughout a person’s life. So, it is with eating Christ.

 

Practically, to eat Christ means to take in His word which, today, is found in the New Testament scriptures. But it is not simply the words of Christ recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Some Bibles even identify those words in red. All the words of the NT are the words of Christ because the apostles were directed by the Spirit of Christ to write what they wrote. So, Paul could say, “We have the mind of Christ.” (I Cor 2:16)(

 

When you are hungry deep within do not try to satisfy that hunger with earthly things like possessions. Sometimes we will go out and buy something when we are feeling low. Feeling low is a kind of hunger, a hunger for something more than we are emotionally experiencing. If you just go out and buy something it does not really satisfy. Do not try to satisfy your thirst with even good things, like love. Oh, listen! Love is good. The love of another person is the best thing this world has to offer. But it is not the same as the love of the One who died for you, who will never fail to love you (others will), who is wonderful, glorious, and perfect. Jesus is our Creator and He is our re-Creator. When we experience His love it satisfies our thirst.

 

And we experience His love through contacting His Spirit and that is through His word. “The words that I speak to you are spirit and life. Oh, how we need to take in His word on a daily basis.

 

Second, we must eat Christ because our own life is inadequate to sustain us. In verse 57 Jesus said, As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. He said, “Whoever feeds on me, he will also live because of me.” Because of the next verse, which says that if we eat Him we will live forever, we may think that this is only speaking of everlasting life. But it is much more than this.

 

When Jesus walked on this earth he walked on the plains and hills of Israel as a human being, the incarnate Son of God, but he lived as a man. This is why he rose before dawn and sought the Father’s will and the Father’s strength. This is why he said, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father…” You see, Jesus fed on the Father. This is why he said, “I have food you know not of.” (John 4:32) Feeding on the Father made Him living. Feeding on Christ makes us living.

 

Our life is inadequate to meet the demands of a life that pleases the Father. Our life is frail, weak, still tainted with sin, characterized by motives that are not always pure. But there is a life in the glory that is for you and me.

 

There’s a Man in the glory
 Whose Life is for me. 
He’s pure and He’s holy,
 Triumphant and free.
 He’s wise and He’s loving
 How tender is He! 
His Life in the glory,
 My life must be;


His Life in the glory,
 My life must be.

There’s a Man in the glory
 Whose Life is for me. 
He overcame Satan;
 From bondage He’s free.
 In Life He is reigning;
 How kingly is He!
 His Life in the glory,
 My life must be;


His Life in the glory,
 My life must be.

There’s a Man in the glory
 Whose Life is for me. 
In Him is no sickness;
 No weakness has He.
 He’s strong and in vigor,
 How buoyant is He! 
His Life in the glory
 My life may be;


His Life in the glory
 My life may be.

There’s a Man in the glory
 Whose Life is for me.
 His peace is abiding;
 How patient is He!
 He’s joyful and radiant,
 Expecting to see 
His Life in the glory
 Lived out in me;


His Life in the glory
 Lived out in me.

 

We cannot live out Christ’s life because we do not have the life within us to do it. But He does! “He is strong and in vigor, How buoyant is He!

 

His life in the glory my life may be. If we eat Him!

 

When we sense our weakness we must take Him as our food through the living word of God.

When we have no motivation to obey Him we must come to Him in the word of God.

When we feel condemned after our failure we must eat His words in these holy pages.

When we are judging those around us we need to be fed because our judging and complaining is a sign of how weak our life is.

When everything is falling apart we need to eat Christ in His word.

This word is our sustenance and our life. We neglect it at our great peril!

 

Last, we must eat Christ because it is our calling. In verse 27 Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life.” There is a food that endures or remains, that lasts, to life eternal and that food is Christ Himself.

 

But note what Jesus says. He says to labor for that food. In other words, you must work for it. He is NOT saying work for eternal life. Eternal life is a gift from the Lord. He is saying to work for the food which does not pass away, work for the food that changes us by strengthening us in our spirit. But there is a labor involved. What is that labor? It is a denying of self. The natural man – what we are in our natural condition when we are not walking in the spirit (this will be most of the time for walking in the flesh is our default condition even as Christians) – the natural man is not too interested in the Scriptures.

The spiritual man – the person walking in the spirit – loves the scriptures. But much of the time some of us would rather read the newspaper or be reading something online rather than taking in God’s word. Therefore, to seek after and eat the words of Christ is a labor. This labor consists in denying self and preparing our meal.

 

It is the difference between eating junk food or eating soup and salad. One meal will bring some immediate gratification and the other will bring you health. One will actually bring you health problems and the other will bring you lasting satisfaction, a satisfaction that endures into eternal life.

 

In order to eat junk food all you have to do is open a bag. But to eat fresh soup and salad takes some preparation. You have to set aside a time. It is the same way with the word of God. If you do not set aside a time, a specific time each day, to take it in it most often will not happen.

 

Each one of us really needs to feed upon Christ in a daily manner, so we must set aside a time. It is our calling to do this and to the extent that we do not we are failing in our calling as followers of Christ and as children of the living God.

 

How do we fulfill our calling? How do we eat His words? It is not simply by reading the Bible as if under some obligation. When I say it is our calling I do not mean that this is our obligation. I mean that it is what we are destined to do. If you read the Bible because you “are supposed to,” putting it down with nothing more than a sense that you’ve fulfilled your obligation, you will get little nourishment from it.

 

The Pharisees read the Bible and knew the Bible but not in the way of life. To eat it means to allow it to become a part of us as we enjoy it. The best way to do that is to pray as we read it, praying in a living way not in a dry way. In other words, reading it by exercising our spirit and not our mind alone. Let’s take 6:35 as an example. (Pray-read through this verse.)

 

The way we fulfill our calling is to set aside a definite time each day to eat the word of God and then to read it by praying, exercising our spirit. This is the way it becomes food to us, nourishing us, strengthening us.

 

Conclusion: We must eat Christ to find true satisfaction.

 

  • He will satisfy our hunger and our thirst.
  • We must eat Christ because our own life is too weak to sustain us.
  • And we must eat Christ because it is our calling.
  • I tell you, when we begin to practice this kind of enjoyable eating of His word all our problems diminish and we are strengthened to live the life that we were called to live.