Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 73

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE changed every Sabbath. And nobody can mess with it except the priests because they are the only ones who can go in there. But the priests talk to people about this. People see this. They look at bread as a representation of God. And when you think about it, this is a holy place. Why does God choose a loaf of bread to represent his presence among his people? If you were to ask, “Brad, let’s come up with a symbol for God to represent his holy presence,” my choice number 3,065 is going to be a loaf of bread. What does that have to do with God’s holiness? We would probably choose fire, earthquake, things that seem to deal with power and holiness. A loaf of bread. Why is that? I think the reason is because God’s holiness is not a holiness designed to stay away from people. God’s holiness is a holiness designed to draw people into relationship with him. So what does a loaf of bread say? It says, “Come and eat with me. I break bread to invite you into relational eating with me.” This symbol of God’s holiness is a symbol of a meal where we are invited to be in relationship with God. Food as a Symbol of Protection and Care Next is food as a symbol of protection and care. Remember the twenty-third Psalm? You prepare a table before me. Where? In the presence of my enemies (Ps 23:5). And he’s just talked about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. The whole context of Psalm 23 is that I’m alone, I’m in danger. I’m in a position where I should be afraid. I’m not, though. Why? “For you are with me.” How is the presence of God represented to David in this psalm? God makes a meal for David. There’s a sense of, “Look, I’m with you, I’m here. Come eat with me. I will protect you. I will be with you; my presence will be with you.” Powerful image here. Speaking of food as protection, the early church fathers called the Eucharist the food of immortality. They saw it as the medicine. You eat it because it’s the body and blood of Christ. It protects you forever. In the Bread of Life sermon of Jesus in John chapter 6, he talks about union with God in Christ by eating. Bread is the substance of life in this culture and that’s why in the Lord’s Prayer it says, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt 6:11). For most people, it’s the basic element of life. So the context in the Bread of Life sermon is that Jesus has just done this amazing miracle. He’s the one who comes from the Father and some of the Pharisees are telling him, “So you did this miracle of multiplying bread. Big deal. God 70