And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. (Gen. 1:29)
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4)Life and eating go together. Without eating and drinking, life can’t continue for very long. Now, we might be tempted to think that’s merely a biological fact, and thus totally separate from spiritual reality, yet the Bible tells us that the world, with all its biology, was created for Jesus (Col. 1:16). Every single thing that exists, exists for Jesus. And all creation points us to Jesus (Rom. 1:18-21, Ps 19:1-4 – for the God of creation is not a Jesus-less God!). Our sin blocks our ears to what creation is saying about Jesus, but that doesn’t stop the fact that it was all made to point to Him. And when our eyes are opened to the glory of Jesus in the gospel, then we can begin to see how creation points to Him too.
Like in eating and drinking. God has designed His creation so that we can’t live without eating and drinking. And so we spend our days working hard to buy food. And, when we’re not working, we spend hours preparing meals that will be wolfed down in a few minutes. Because we need to eat.
Yet, the LORD teaches us that ‘man shall not live by bread alone’ (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). Although the physical bread for which we work might nourish and sustain our physical bodies, it doesn’t offer true life. Sustained by bread alone, we continue our lives ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1). Physical bread alone is mere zombie-food: food for the living dead.
What we need is the food that gives life. Through His good creation, God teaches us that we need food to live. But by His Word He tells us that the true food that gives life isn’t bread – or rice, or pasta, or potatoes. Instead the food we need, the food by which we live, is the Word of God.
And at the Lord’s Table we see that afresh. For there, the Word of God is joined with physical bread so that we can be fed with the Bread of Heaven. The minister takes ordinary bread, and speaks Christ’s Word over it – the Word of the Living Word – and so we receive, not bread alone, but the Word which proceeds from the mouth of God. When Christ’s words – ‘This is my Body, broken for you’ – echo at the Table, we hear again that ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ For Jesus – the Word – is ‘the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die’ (John 6:50).