We all have favorite foods that remind us of home. I grew up in Nebraska, so mine is a delectable portion of beef grilled to perfection. But I don’t just love the food itself. I have warm memories of ordinary meals eaten with friends and family. At many of our churches, potlucks are a highly anticipated event. Tables groan under the weight of covered casserole dishes and gelatin salads as the church family gathers to eat, laugh, and fellowship.
Perhaps that positive emotional connection is why meals became a part of early church gatherings. Together, believers could “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). The practice of Christians meeting together to share a meal traces back to the earliest days of the church. Believers called these gatherings “love feasts” as they shared a meal in homes followed by teaching, singing, and the Lord’s Supper.
In the New Testament, Jesus talks about food, uses food as illustration, and even performs miracles with food at the center. He taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, saying, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). Jesus broke the bread and offered the cup—a tradition and symbol that continues today. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
Food is woven into our faith practice as Christians and is frequently referenced in Scripture. From the manna in the wilderness to the nets full of fish pulled in by the disciples, our food and our faith are intertwined.
Why is food mentioned so often in Scripture? Perhaps it is because food is essential to our very existence. We need food to live. In a similar way, our faith in Christ sustains us.
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus said. “He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). Bread was a basic food staple, cheap and filling and easily attained. Bread represented sustenance. In the Lord’s Prayer, bread illustrates our daily dependence on God for nourishment. Each day, we ask God to protect and sustain us.
Jesus speaks of food because it helps connect the ordinary to the spiritual. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58). Through these common examples, people began to understand His life-changing message. If they ate this bread, they would live forever.