Hold the Bread?

bread-caution My pastor mentioned Luke 14:15 in his sermon yesterday while preaching on Proverbs 9. I remembered this article I wrote last year, and now find it even more pertinent and timely than when I wrote it. I can’t seem to keep up with the latest health food trends. It’s exhausting. Back in college when I gained that unhelpful freshman weight, the diet craze was to go high carbs and low-fat. Bagel shops were popping up everywhere. So I exercised my butt off (literally) and ate bagels, cereal, and pasta with my roommates. I will admit that I never cared for low-fat cheese or fake butter. And it’s unrealistic to expect a college student to avoid the soft-serve ice cream machine in the dining hall. Nevertheless, my roommates and I made it back to our goal weights with this diet trend (which also works well with a college budget) and plenty of exercise. But if you were caught following this diet now you would look more out of date than the stonewashed overalls I wore to the bagel shop. I think it all started way back with the Atkins and the South Beach diet. All of the sudden, carbs were evil, and it was all about packing in the protein. You could once again feel confident eating bacon. As I became a health-conscious mom, the list of evil foods grew. We became bread connoisseurs. White flour was out, but whole wheat, spelt, and other grains I had never heard of were healthy ways to feed our families. The mantra was “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.” Suddenly, every cereal box and package of cookies sported flashy marketing in its top corner boasting its whole grain goodness. And now even this party is coming to an end. The latest news is that any and all bread is just plain bad. Gluten is evil, and we all need to start eating our meat and cheese sandwiched by thoroughly-washed arugula. The supposed dangers of bread range from poor test scores to heart attacks. After a conversation with the “healthier mom,” or reading the latest article, you would think that you have been serving up poison in your child’s lunches. We’ve become really good at labeling what’s “out there” as evil to avoid the evil in our own hearts. My response to the anti-bread craze is that if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. In fact, I look forward to eating bread with him. “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15b). This statement was perhaps flippantly made to change the subject as Jesus was teaching through a parable. But it is a pivotal beatitude highlighting the significance of Jesus’ response. The controversy then wasn’t the evil of bread, rather, it was the table full of sinful people who Christ would be ushering into his great banquet. All this was in my thoughts as I participated in the Lord’s Supper this past Sunday—the significance of bread. As it was being distributed by our elders, I thought about the feeding of the five thousand. Christ’s sacrifice, the body that the communion bread signifies, is enough to ratify all those for whom he died. There will be a great multitude feasting together at the heavenly banquet. Just like the five thousand, we will all be satisfied. But it isn’t because of the bread. We will be satisfied in him. Providentially, I read this yesterday in Arthur Just Jr.’s, The Ongoing Feast:
The satisfaction and abundance at the feeding of the five thousand is a proleptic manifestation of the complete satisfaction and abundance the hungry will receive at the messianic banquet…(176).
And expounding on our Luke 14:15 verse:
This unique Lukan beatitude is a summation and culmination of all previous beatitudes because it focuses squarely on the blessings of God in the table fellowship of Jesus. Luke 14:14 already anticipates this state of blessedness for those who invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind to sit at the table with them. The ultimate blessedness is to eat bread in the kingdom of God. The banquet parable that follows is merely a commentary on this beatitude and the beatitudes that lead up to it (178).
I don’t mean to be snarky to the health-conscious. But I do want to point us to the true killer of the body and soul—sin. We are all hungry for holy communion with our Creator and Savior. His table fellowship is the ultimate blessedness. Let me close with encouragement from Michael Horton’s, The Gospel-Driven Life:
Jesus told his disciples that he would not drink wine with them again until he returned in his kingdom of glory. Our Eucharistic table is not the heavenly wedding banquet. For now, it is a sacrificial meal in which Christ is the food and drink. Yet each time we gather, we not only proclaim Christ’s death until he comes; we participate in the renewing powers of the age to come. We taste the morsels of the wedding banquet when the meal of Christ’s sacrifice will become the feast of unending delight. For that day, Christ will be the host rather than the meal and we will eat and drink with him in an everlasting exchange of gifts (242).
I doubt we will be asking Jesus to hold the bread.