As a child growing up in the United Kingdom, there was always a great choice in food that we could eat. Chicken, Lamb and Pork were regular features on the dinner plate. Beef, though a traditional dish (often served with something known as 'Yorkshire Pudding') was seen as something of a luxury we saved for special occasions. We very rarely had steak. A driving factor in that decision was simply the fact that, at that time in the U.K, beef was expensive!
I recall, after we moved to West Virginia over 20 years ago, being invited to a neighboring ministers house for a Barb-Q. We were astonished when he pulled out, what to us, were these huge steaks of beef and proceeded to cook them on the grill. Honestly, we had never seen steaks that size before in our lives. In addition, not long before we left the U.K., there had been a health scare that had made beef even less available.
A visitor from the homelands, after I had described the experience to him, said that it sounded like I was getting some “Real Meat.” 'Real Meat' in the sense that here was something to get your teeth into and chew down upon.
Last Sunday, here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, we were thinking about Jesus being “The Bread Man” (sermon here). This coming Sunday we'll be looking at a passage from John 6:51-55, in which Jesus uses the phrase “For my flesh is meat indeed.” (King James Version). These are strange words if you take them out of context! Most bible commentators see this phrase as being related both to communion and to the message that Jesus gave to His disciples.
There is something about the gospel message that needs to be chewed upon and digested, before it starts making a difference in our lives. Part of the process happens as we meet with others in worship to break bread and share a communal cup. The other part takes place as we individually seek to apply to our hearts and minds the gospel message.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews complained that he couldn’t give those he wrote for “Real Meat.” “You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14).
Understanding the message Jesus has given us takes time. It's not something that comes to us in a single serving. It's deep. It's meaty. It's a life long journey. The challenge is to discover the “Real Meat” of the gospel, in such a way as we no longer see the need to feast upon the shallow things and empty messages that often surround our daily lives.
Only Jesus claims to be able to fully satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts and lives. So for some music; “In Christ Alone” by Adrienne Liesching and Geoff Moore. “Real Meat!”
The Reverend Adrian J Pratt B.D.