Food is vital for sustaining life. Without proper nourishment, the human body becomes weak and cannot function properly. People must take care of their bodies through eating right and consuming key nutrients, so they not only live but thrive in healthiness. The same principle applies to one’s spiritual life. A proper diet of spiritual food is needed so Christians do not become weak and weary, but rather thrive spiritually in their relationship with God. Regular nourishment for the soul is vital for the Christian life, just as physical food is for the body.
Jesus emphasized the importance of spiritual food when He was tempted by Satan: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NET). Man is both physical and spiritual, which is why spiritual food is just as important as physical nourishment. This spiritual food is “every word that comes from the mouth of God” God has spoken to us in His Word, the Bible. His Word imparts life (John 6:63).
The Bible often speaks of the spiritual food we need: God’s Word provides milk (1 Peter 2:2); it is meat (1 Corinthians 3:2) and bread (Deuteronomy 8:3; Job 23:12); and it is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103). The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:16). Scripture’s use of food metaphors demonstrates the importance of ingesting God’s Word, of making it a part of us. Scripture is not something merely to study or read but to be “eaten” by God’s people. We read the Word, but we then pause to “chew on it” a while, meditating and reflecting on the meaning and application of what we’ve read (see Psalm 1:1–3).
On a couple occasions, Jesus spoke of another type of spiritual food. After Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples brought Him some food from town. But He did not partake, saying, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (John 4:32). This puzzled the disciples, whose minds were stuck on physical food, and Jesus explained: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (verse 34, ESV). Later, after feeding the 5,000, Jesus referred to faith, salvation, and His sacrifice using a food metaphor: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (John 6:54–55).
We need spiritual food—that is to say we need the Word of God, we need to do the will of God, and we need Jesus Himself.