Jesus. The Bible, John 6
Food Body Mind Spirit
This article takes a long look back to the ancient Biblical narratives to observe the human redemption story (the interactions with humans of the Hebrew God called Yahweh in the Old Testament and the Theos in the Greek language of the New Testament). We'll discover that it differs remarkably from current popular thought on how the body, food, and spirit connect.
In the Genesis account of creation the Creator declares to the first couple:
After companionship (remember Adam was lonely for a help-mate) food was the first gift to mankind from the Personal, Communicating, Transcendent Creator. The God of Genesis relates to Adam and Eve as a person who carries on conversations in a language they understand. They view him as the Creator, a separate and distinct entity from everything he has created. Just as a work of art is not confused with the artist himself, so God is not a pear, an ocean, a sun, or nature even though they reflect his glory and power. He is transcendent, a being existing apart from and beyond his creation.
The Creator, however, does not remain hidden. He becomes very visible in human form appearing as the long anticipated Messiah in a world dominated by Roman rule. In John 1 Jesus is called the Word, the Logos, identifying him as the original creator. Later Jesus demonstrates creative powers by providing a meal for thousands.
He also demonstrated his power and authority over the elements during a storm on the Sea of Galilee as his disciples observe:
"Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey
The God of Secular Humanism
At one time this philosophy seemed to be infused by an optimism, particularly in the era of the 1950's, that with enough time for research and exploration humankind could tap the power of the atom, reach the stars, plumb the microscopic depths, cure every disease, solve every human social and political problem.
By the latter part of the 20th century the Vietnam war, the inadequacy of the Great Society, Chernobyl, and the rise in the diseases of cancer, heart disease, and AIDS have become bitter lessons.
When it comes to food the irony is that just at the time nutritional scientists were identifying vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids--essential nutrients that support life--technologists were perfecting refining processes to separate them from foods or to reconstitute them in synthetic forms. Refined white flour, subsequently "enriched," and homogenized milk are examples of the first, and margarine, a hydrogenated fat produced from a spin-off of the technology that produced TNT, is an example of the latter. All this was motivated by profit for the seller and convenience for the buyer, and without regard for the design of the Creator. Thus, the age of boxed mixes and prepackaged foods brought new freedom in the kitchen and profits to food packaging industries. Secular humanism, therefore, made man his own god, imitating but not succeeding in replacing the Original Creator's food supply.
The God of Cosmic Humanism
We call it the New Age philosophy or cosmic humanism. While atheistic (secular) humanism denies human spirituality, cosmic humanism affirms it. Everything is spiritual. You are god. I am god. Welcome to super spirituality! This "god," however, is neither transcendent (All is god. God is all.) or personal. Spokespersons for the new age thought (e.g. actress Shirley McClaine of Out On A Limb fame) emanate primarily from pop culture, not the ivy covered halls of universities.
Cosmic Humanism has ushered in whole new attitudes toward the environment, animals, trees, history, business, religiosity, and especially, food. For example, Laurel's Kitchen. the bible of health food cookery reveals interesting insights between attitudes toward spiritual matters and preparing food. In the introduction Laurel says:
The "name of the Lord," "Jesus" and "Lord" language sounds spiritual, but it is hardly biblical. First, anyone who has seen Charlton Heston approach the burning bush or come down from Mt. Siani in The Ten Commandments would know that the God of the Bible doesn't need anyone to make his name "hallowed." This God is a self-hallowing being. Lesser gods are self-contaminating. Furthermore, Jesus warned his followers about the meaninglessness and ineffectuality of repetitious words in prayers:
The Wheel of Mandela keeps going round and round. Jesus taught his disciples to directly address a living, personal God with "aba father," the believing response of a child. Finally, Laurel reveals the physical location of her god with "you're preparing food for the Lord in those you love (emphasis ours.)" Her lord is the god of the human spirit not the indwelling Holy Spirit of the Bible.
An atheistic humanist could take his vitamins and count calories, but a cosmic humanist counts the spiritual value of food. For example, a Hare Krishna cookbook classifies good and bad foods according to categories that defy any known nutritional system. In addition, food properly prepared must be presented to a portrait of Krishna and blessed before serving. If this sounds like idol worship, it is.
The God of the New Age is Mother Nature--all in all, including you and me. Thus cosmic humanism has elevated God's gift of food to the spiritual heights of salvation, magnifying its value to mega proportions.
Personal, Transcendent God
He reasons with cause and effect logic to explain the Creator's purpose.
Note the progression of revelation from God to man in the Apostle Paul's speech: God gives you rain from heaven. The rain causes the crops to grow. The crops produce a variety of foods (in their seasons). This variety of foods ends up on your table. When you eat it, your hearts are filled with joy. What motivated God? To show his kindness. To fill their hearts with joy. But why? For a testimony of himself--his existence, his power, and his character as the Personal, Communicating, Transcendent Creator.
Now observe the logical progression of God's revelation: We experience pleasure. The satisfaction came from eating a meal. Where did the food come from? It came from the crops grown on the farms. What enabled the crops to grow? The rain. Where did the rain come from? Above, beyond the human sphere. Conclusion: there must be an Ultimate Cause beyond these causes. As we seek the Ultimate Cause of our existence we find clues in Creation. This is called Natural Revelation. It is affirmed by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
Therefore, God's first gift of food to mankind was the evidence pointing to who He really is, leaving us without excuse for not seeking and finding Him. The food on our table is meant to arouse our interest, to get our attention, to call us to our human responsibility to honor and worship the Source Creator.
We call this the Management Mandate. Humankind has certainly increased in numbers, all 5 billion of us, but we have not always succeeded in subduing and ruling. The tiniest of creatures, viruses, can still kill us by the thousands. Managing the earth's resources is a God-given mandate. We see a New Testament illustration of this in Jesus' instructions to his disciples at the feeding of the thousands.
Leftovers at Jesus' feeding not only demonstrated the wonderful excess of his creative powers but also provisions for the disciples' families. Imagine Peter's mother-in-law's expression when he brought the basket of food scraps home!
God has created and provided food resources for us. It is our responsibility to prepare the soil, plant, cultivate, harvest, store, and prepare the food in such a way that it will bring pleasure. The Bible has a few food lists and a recipe or two (you would find Ezekiel's bread quite unpalatable--current commercial bread labels to the the contrary), but it is not a cookbook. Recipes and menus are a human responsibility. Thus, the management mandate translates into concern for the hidden value of food--nutrition, into a consciousness of cost control, and the allocation of time to tasks. The much praised women of Proverbs 31 certainly possessed giftedness in home and business management skills. The management mandate, rightly executed, reflects the character and nature of God in its purpose:
All is not well, however. The problem all humans experience (distancing from the Creator) begins with a Biblical story focusing on food.
The Human Declaration of Independence
Isn't it remarkable that the first recorded expression of human autonomous action involved the misuse of the food? It wasn't just an accident that Eve served the wrong menu. She served the forbidden fruit as the physical expression of what was going on in her mind, spirit, and emotions. "We can become like gods knowing good and evil" she rationalized at the serpent's suggestion while her husband stood by silently agreeing with her. Today the consequences of that act of independence are evident everywhere in the environment as well as in the human heart. Isn't it remarkable, too, that infants display some of their first acts of independence and willfulness against parents by throwing food in their parent's faces?
The rebellion did not dissipate with the first human generation. It intensified in the second. Again food, the offerings to the Creator, became the focus of the physical expression of obedience and disobedience.
Cain didn't just misread the menu. If that had been so, he would have responded to the warning. The sin links were set in motion--from the independent spirit, the disobedient challenge, then jealousy, rage, finally murder. Ultimately his attitude toward the Creator was expressed in his action against his brother.
Like Cain the New Age Cosmic Humanists are rebels, too. But they go a step further. They are invariably vegetarian, and they abhor both Abel and his offering. Not only do they believe that they should avoid killing animals. They believe that meat pollutes the human body and spirit while fruits and vegetables purify them. In their super spirituality they turn the ancient Patriarchal and Mosaic sacrificial system on its head. The meat eaters become the unforgiven sinners and the vegetarians become the sanctified saints.
New Agers, especially those who have taken up the cause for animal rights are adamant about this. For example, we've question people who've expressed more empathy for the cubs of the female mountain lion that stalked and killed a young woman jogger near Bishop, California than for her surviving children. The funds raised for the care of the lion's kittens (she was destroyed) came in multiples of that collected for the children. In fact we heard a young mother at a La Leche convention say that the jogger got what she deserved. I Timothy is instructive at this point.
We have deviated far the Creator's design for humans.
The Divine Declaration of Dependence
As the neophyte Israeli nation approaches the promised land, Moses carefully reviews the purpose of their dessert wandering experience and the significance of the manna. The manna came from God's hand dropped on them out of the sky. Free food. Nevertheless, they tired of it as Keith Green's song Manna Bread expressed so well "...manna burgers, manna bagels..." The same old stuff-- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This attitude of ungratefulness and lack of trust in the Provider reaped them 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. They would learn dependence the hard way.
In the Garden of Eden the Creator did not simply offer the first
couple food. It was followed by communication and communion.
Likewise, the I AM God of Moses did not stop with the manna. The ten
commandments followed and a lot more. Man is more than a body and
must receive food for the soul as well as the body to understand the
Creator's purpose. God's Word reveals his design for all
relationships--spiritual, personal, and social. Thus, man does
not live by bread alone. Our daily bread is only the first
step. While it meets a temporal need, it demonstrates man's need for
a relationship with the Creator. This brings us to the ultimate
connection between food, our daily bread, and the final step in the
The Ultimate Gift--Jesus, The Lamb of God, the Bread of Life
Under the Mosaic system God expressed justice and mercy at the same time by providing the animal sacrifices. The death of a lamb was offered in man's place. This system was insufficient, however, because it could not establish an eternal fellowship between man and God. These sacrifices had to be repeated. God had made plans for a once and for all final sacrifice. That sacrifice would be his own Son, Jesus, the God-Man.
Jesus made this astounding claim in the context of an incredible feast which he hosted for over 5000 people. After a day in the country absorbing hours of his teaching, they were hungry. There were no readily available supermarkets. Jesus was not inclined to send them home on empty stomachs. The disciples found a small boy with a lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves of barley bread. Jesus took it, broke it, gave the Father thanks for it, and gave it to the disciples to distribute to the people. They had all they wanted to eat. In fact the disciples collected twelve baskets of leftovers!
This indeed was fast food service! In response, the people sought to make Jesus a king (Burgerking?) Who wouldn't cling to a leader who could provide food so readily without apparent effort! Was Jesus concerned with their physical needs? Yes, Indeed! But if all they thought about was having their stomach's filled, they missed the main point of his compassionate and miraculous provision.
Those who were perplexed, though curious enough to stick with Jesus,
did eventually hear the answer as to what he was really about. His
point was that the instant meal was just the beginning of what he
had to offer. There was a lot more to come.
Food, then, is indeed given to us by God to nourish, sustain, and delight us. It also is an ever present reminder that there is more to life than just filling stomachs. Our minds and spirits crave for more meaning. Satisfaction is experience when we live in an intimate relationship to God because of Jesus Christ, the living bread from heaven. This is an enduring life that will never end. In right relationship to God everything else in life is meant to take its proper place for our health, joy, and usefulness for the glory of God--our self-concept, our relationships with others, our relationship to things, and yes, our right relationship to food. The link between the natural and the supernatural has come full circle.