There is nothing like a hot, chewy pretzel from a New York pushcart. I still remember them from my childhood and the squeak the soft dough would make as you bit into them. But as good as the doughy, bread-like pretzels were, they needed those huge crystals of salt added on top and the tangy mustard squished over it all for the full effect.
Or a hot piece of Italian bread the tip of the loaf always reminding me of my grandma’s elbow until the loaf was sliced. The bread was okay on its own but nothing in comparison to the same pillow soft center and crispy, flakey crust oozing with olive oil and smothered in garlic, dusted with parmesan cheese and lightly toasted in the oven.
Bread was never meant to be eaten by itself. It is always intended to be in conjunction with something else…oil or fish or more. The bread is edible but the real pleasure comes from the spread.
In Matthew 4:4 JESUS has been led to go out into the desert to be tempted by the devil. It is time for him to stretch into this humanity His Deity has been born into, setting aside much of His power to do so but fully GOD just the same. Like a woman stretching her fingers inside a glove to try them on for size or a man testing the limits of a tool, Christ is allowing His humanity to be stretched to its limits in order to associate with our suffering.
Part of that was hunger. JESUS had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. The same amount of time rain fell and wiped out every living thing on earth except those contained in the vessel GOD led Noah to build to save a remnant. The same amount of time Moses stayed on the mountain top communing alone with GOD to receive the Law of GOD, the foundation of the relationship between GOD and humanity.
And just when JESUS was hungriest, Satan came to tempt Him as the Holy Spirit had intended. JESUS was like a ship being tested to see if it is sea worthy. But when Satan tells JESUS to use the power JESUS has as GOD the Son for Himself by turning stones into bread, JESUS refuses. Satan tells JESUS to satisfy the flesh. Enjoy the world, the world JESUS made. But JESUS says no, because “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word of GOD.”
Humanity was never meant to enjoy this world without an eye to the world to come. The Presence of GOD as we live our daily lives makes all the difference. The bread of the world is not enough without the Word of GOD that gives it flavor and enjoyment. The Apostle John will later explain that JESUS Himself is the Word in flesh.
Moses learned the world is not enough and brought the Law of Relationship between GOD and humanity to GOD’s people, Israel. They learned this, too, when the bread-like manna fell from Heaven. By itself even the bread of Heaven wasn’t satisfying without obedience in the world. There must be both.
At the Last Supper JESUS would liken the bread at dinner to His Body, broken for His followers, and say “This is my Body.” He is the perfect combination of the Word of GOD, the fulfillment of the Law of GOD, the very Presence of GOD, not just given to have eternal Life but to be used by those who have eternal Life through Him to spread eternal Life by giving Him to the World.
When the disciples encourage JESUS to eat during His ministry, He will explain that He has food to eat they don’t realize, doing the will of the Father in fulfilling His mission. Not just earthly bread but Heavenly fulfillment. That is what GOD intends every Believer to feast on cheerfully throughout their lives.
The Apostle Paul will remind us that life is more than eating and drinking but the righteousness and peace and joy of enjoying this world as GOD intends it to be enjoyed by blessing others in GOD’s Name.
By concentrating on ourselves in this life, feeding on
the things of this world we eat unworthily and sin, as Paul said many did at the first Communion dinners.
We are the salt of the world, the flavoring on the pretzel of life, in the world but not of it.
Just as JESUS knew He must be about GOD the Father’s business, we must be, too.
First we must taste and see the LORD is good. But we aren’t meant to be Spiritual gluttons. We aren’t meant to live for the bread of the world alone or to worship GOD in an ivory tower. But we must be the broken Body of JESUS spreading the delicious news of eternal life in the world by actively helping others as an invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when the appetizer of this life is done.