What is the primary purpose of eating food?
The common answer is that it keeps us alive. It gives us strength. Food certainly accomplishes this and more. But if that were the primary purpose, if that were the main reason we needed to eat, it seems there is a whole lot of wasteful abundance.
God could have just made a pill that fulfilled all of our nutritional needs. Take once a day, and…that’s it.
Instead we see an all-you-can-eat buffet spread out before us. A variety of trees carve up the same air molecules and produce a variety of different types of fruit. The list is too long to recite.
A rainbow of vegetables spring up from the ground. Do you know how many different cuts of meat, different flavors and textures, can come from a single cow? At least 12. And that’s just one animal.
Why? Why all the apparent excess? Surely we could get by with far less. And if the primary purpose of food was to sustain us, then that would be a fair point. But the primary purpose of food is not really to feed the body. The primary purpose of food and eating is really to minister to the soul.
David hints at this in Psalm 34:8a. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!”
And in this meal, the Lord’s Supper, this is infinitely true. Here, above all other meals, we taste, and see that the LORD is good. We look to the cross and see that the LORD is good. We look to the Son’s broken body and shed blood and see that the LORD is good.
And then we look at the empty tomb…and we see that the LORD is very good.
At the beginning of creation, the second instruction God gives to man is that he should eat of the earth:
“And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” (Genesis 1:29) (ESV)
God gives man no less than the world itself, laid out like a grand banquet, to give Man life. Man did not deserve it. It was given freely as a gift. This Father, whose imagination knows no limits, who already gave man everything, then gave his own Son so man might have life more abundantly (John 10:10).
Not surprisingly, this abundant life, this new creation, is described throughout Scripture as a glorious banquet, bursting at the seams with good food and rich wine. In the context of the institution of the Supper, Jesus says in Luke 22:29-30, that “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom…”
We are given a kingdom SO THAT we can eat with Jesus.
So what is the purpose of food? Like everything else in creation. To point to Christ. To point to the one through whom it was made. To point to this meal and the great meal we will share with Him in the world to come. So that we can dine at the table of the Great King.
So taste, and see that the LORD is good.