Eugene H. Peterson‘s book, Eat This Book is the basis for a series in which I’m calling Garnett Church of Christ to watch The Bible series on History Channel and rather than just watching to “get into the Bible . . . so the Bible can get into you.”
And so we’re using the metaphor of “Eat This Book” as a way to “get the Bible into us.”
Because, we tend to eat the Bible in little sweet morsels. We like Jeremiah 29:11 all right, “For I know the plans have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,” but we often don’t care nor even notice that this text is in the middle of a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. In the same letter God through Jeremiah says, “settle down, you’re going to be in exile for 70 years.”
Eugene Peterson notes that three times in Scripture God asked people to “eat this scroll.” He asked this of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and John. Each did what they were told. They did this in order for the message God had for them to tell would truly get inside them.
We tend not only to pick at Scripture like cotton candy for all the sweet parts, but we also stand above it, pick at it like little children at the table with their green beans. We analyze it. We study it. And Jesus says to his hearers (John 5:39-40) “you diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” We often ignore the Bible, critique or bash the Bible, pick at it for sweet parts, study it and stand above it and the characters in it, and even use it to thump others or simple pat it endlessly as a tome we say we believe it. But we refuse to truly get the word INTO us. We refuse to eat it.
So how do we eat the Bible? One way is to eat the feast God gave us. We have a weekly feast. The Jews had many annual feasts. Embedded in these feasts are stories. So we actually CAN literally Eat the Story.
So I read the recipe for a great church during a recent sermon and then showed Jill’s worn cookbook with the pages covered with butter and sugar, liked a page and said what God asked Ezekiel, Jeremiah, John to do is “eat the scroll,” and the Bible is not a recipe book for happy living, nor are we to pick at it like cotton candy for all the good parts. God wants to get the recipe book INSIDE us. He wants us to eat the story.
So during Passover time, it’s a great time to think about how the Passover is a story God called Israel to eat. We are what we eat. Remember that poster from the Cafe-torium in elementary school? Israel was redeemed from slavery and that is the Passover meal. The Passover became the Last Supper and the Last Supper became the First Communion.