Food From Heaven
Christmas day has a lot to do with food.
In the lead up to Christmas, we spend a lot of time and money stocking the pantry with the food and drinks that we are going to devour on December 25. It's one of the things we look forward to at Christmas. You could even argue that, for some people, it is more important than giving and receiving presents!
Let's face it, we all like food. We not only need it to survive, but we take great delight in enjoying food we particularly like. And at Christmas, our eyes are often bigger than our bellies and we end up taking refuge on a lounge trying to let it all digest.
Food was also on the minds of the 5,000 - 10,000 people who gathered to listen to Jesus one day in the hills of Galilee. Jesus miraculously fed all of them just the day before with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and so they decided to go after Him to see if He might fill their bellies again.
You can read about this in John 6.
The response of Jesus was interesting. He told them that God had sent them bread from heaven, and that if they would feed on this bread then they would never hunger or thirst again. They were pretty excited about this prospect, until it became clear that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, and that the bread in the metaphor was actually Him!
Unlike the manna that came from Heaven to sustain the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, Jesus is a spiritual food that comes down from Heaven to give eternal life.
"...anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever."
Many of the people who were listening to Jesus that day couldn't cope with this, and they turned away and deserted Him. The metaphor was lost on them. They simply wanted their bellies filled again, they didn't want all this talk about spirituality and eternal life.
There will be many people like that this Christmas - only really interested in food and having their bellies satisfied. But Christmas is about so much more than simply getting a belly full of nice food.
Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the true food from Heaven - Jesus - the One who came down to solve our biggest problem: the sin that separates us from a righteous, holy God.
We feed on Jesus by looking to Him in faith, believing that His life, death and resurrection are the means of our salvation. His righteous life becomes ours through faith; His death on the cross becomes our sin debt paid in full; and His resurrection becomes our sure hope that we will follow Jesus into a glorious eternal life.
So, by all means, enjoy the turkey, ham, pudding and cake. But please know that this will only satisfy you for a few hours. Faith in Jesus, on the other hand, will satisfy forever, and is the greatest gift you can ever be given.
Greg Gardiner is the Lead Pastor of Disciples Church Springfield. He and his wife Fiona have six children, a GROWING NUMBER OF grandchildren, and lead one of our Missional Community Groups.