Hungry and Thirsty
I love food. I love eating food. I love reading about food. I love listening to podcasts about food. I love watching TV about food. I love food. I don’t just love the eating of food, but I love hearing about the science behind food. I love learning how to make something new. Even now as I think about certain foods my mouth starts to salivate. I can think about good BBQ or an amazing Mexican meal, and I get hungry. Thinking about everything that goes into making that meal, makes me appreciate it even more. I love food.
I am pretty sure that I am not alone in a love for food. There seems to be something universal in people loving food. Not everyone loves it to the same extent, but everyone in every culture has some sort of connection to food. There are often rituals associated around the eating of a meal. There may even be informal but mandatory rituals surrounding the preparing of a meal. (i.e. Why is it in some families that canned cranberry sauce is a necessity at Thanksgiving no matter how bad canned cranberry sauce is? When I am cutting up brownies, Calvin knows that he gets the bits that stick to the knife.) There is something about a love of food that is universal. This is something to which every person and culture can to some extent connect.
Food plays a huge part in our lives. Many of our biggest moments in life are around a table. Many people are eating a meal when they get engaged. It is often the case that when we want to deliver good or bad news, we have a meal. A wedding is often celebrated with a meal. Even in Scripture we can see that time and again the Lord commands his people to eat a meal together; Passover, various sacrifices, the agape meal of the New Testament, the Lord’s Supper, and, that great eschatological meal, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In Scripture, the Lord shows us that there is something special about a meal, about eating.
In fact, Scripture not only commands us to eat together or points us to moments when we will eat together, but Scripture tells us that at our very core we are hungry and thirsty.
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. - Psalm 42:1–2
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. - Isaiah 55:1
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” - Matthew 5:6
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” - John 6:35
I could go on. It is amazing how often in Scripture we are told that we are hungry and thirsty. The thing that I find fascinating about all of it though isn't that Scripture tells us that we are hungry and thirsty, but where our hunger and thirst can be satisfied.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. - Psalm 63:1–2
The psalmist tells us that he is thirsty. He is parched. What is the remedy to this situation? Looking upon the temple, beholding the power and glory of God. It is in beholding God’s glory which is located in the God’s temple that the psalmist finds the hunger and thirst of his soul satisfied.
When we get to the New Testament, we find that God’s glory no longer resides in the temple in Jerusalem but that we behold God’s glory in the face of Christ.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6
Yet, we find an interesting point made throughout the New Testament. There is still a temple being built. However, this is a living temple. The temple is built out of those who confess the name of Christ. The temple, the place where God’s glory dwells, is the church. It is in this place, the church that we find that our hunger and thirst are satisfied as we behold God’s glory through the preached word and the sacrament.
It is easy to think that we go to church to give God something. And there is a sense in which we do that. We give God our worship when we gather on Sunday. However, that is not why we go to church. First and foremost, we go to church because through a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit we know that we are hungry and thirsty. We go to church because we know that the only way this hunger and thirst can be satisfied is through beholding the glory of God in the face of Christ. We go to church as those who are needy and are looking to the only one who can satisfy us.
It is in response to this, in response to our emptiness being filled, that we offer our praise and worship. It is in response to our hunger and thirst be satiated that we respond by going into the world, pointing people to where their hunger and thirst can be satiated. We go out into the world proclaiming to a people who do not realize that they are hungry and thirsty for this truth: at the core of who they are they hunger and thirst for something that only God can fill. We go out proclaiming that when we behold the glory of God in the face of Christ, our hunger and thirst are satisfied.
The food we eat and long for points us to greater reality. We have a deeper hunger; one that can only be met through a meal that we cannot prepare and that God himself serves us. We come to him hungry and thirsty and he quenches our thirst and fills our stomaches.
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.“ - Revelation 21:6