Mouths to Taste, Lips to Declare
Mouths are for eating. No fewer than 700 times Biblical writers mention the vital role that eating plays in maintaining one’s health. Eating is important to physical health, of course—that goes without saying. But Scripture also uses eating as a metaphor for how God’s people can maintain spiritual health and grow in fellowship with their Creator and Redeemer.
"O sweet Lord Jesus, You are the present portion of Your people. Favor us this year with such a sense of Your preciousness that, from its first to its last day, we may be glad and rejoice in You. Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus."
His heart bursting with affection for his Savior, C.H. Spurgeon began his January 1 morning devotional with the above quotation. Notice Spurgeon’s reference to eating and tasting: Jesus is the “daily portion” of food for his people; he is “sweet” to their taste.
Mouths for Nourishment
Mouths are for eating. No fewer than 700 times Biblical writers mention the vital role that eating plays in maintaining one’s health. Eating is important to physical health, of course—that goes without saying. But Scripture also uses eating as a metaphor for how God’s people can maintain spiritual health and grow in fellowship with their Creator and Redeemer. Believers take in the food of religious knowledge through their spiritual mouths, as it were and digest it. Thus this “food” gets turned into energy to worship and obey God. But the process begins with taking in the nourishment, chewing it thoroughly, and swallowing it.
And what— rather, who—is food for such spiritual nourishment? It is Jesus, the Bread of Life— no one less, and no one else. It is He who must be eaten, taken in, consumed. Such language about Jesus, though stark and arresting, is not macabre. It describes accurately what takes place: the food of salvation that God offers to believers in Christ must be taken in—eaten, consumed, and digested by them—to accomplish its purpose. The Church depends as directly upon Jesus Christ for her life and flourishing as a person’s physical body depends upon bread.
The most graphic—sacramental—expression of this process of spiritual eating happens when in the Lord’s Supper Christians gather to partake of his body and to drink his blood. He himself invites them to dine: “Take, eat this is my body. Take, drink, this is my blood. Remember and believe.” In trust and hope, believers participate in— they ingest and digest—Christ himself. Sharing his bodily death (I Corinthians 11.29), they become nourished and refreshed, supplied with food for vital energy.
Through his food Jesus brings delight to believers’ palates. They savor him. He satisfies them.
A healthy, vigorously growing communion of saints cannot feast enough on Jesus. They consume him in generous portions as though their very lives—and their life together—depend on him. For it does.
Jesus, too, once participated in the process of tasting , eating, and drinking. Hebrews 2.9 declares: “…he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” With his lips Jesus had declared: “Here I am. I have come to do you will, O God.” (Hebrews 10.9), and with his mouth he then emptied the cup of horrific suffering his Father had given him to drink.
Jesus did this for the sake of his church, the people of God he so loves.
Mouths for Speaking
Mouths are for eating, for taking in and ingesting. They are also for speaking, for giving out and declaring. Having feasted upon him, in grateful response Jesus’ sisters and brothers now use their mouths as instruments of blessing. They offer Jesus their heart’s full gratitude. Together they sing:
“O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace."
They express to Jesus their heart’s ravenous hunger and deep thirst. Together they cry:
“O Jesus Joy of loving hearts, Thou fount of life, Thou light of men,
From fullest bliss that earth imparts we turn unfilled to Thee again.
We taste Thee, O Thou living break, and long to feast upon Thee still,
We drink of Thee, the fountainhead, and thirst our souls from Thee to fill.”
They invite others to join the adoring multitude. Together they plead:
“O taste and see that God is good to all that seek his face; How blest the ones who trust in him, confiding in his grace.” (Psalm 34.8)
Jesus: What finer, more delectable feast can one’s mind and heart imagine?
Jesus: Who but he deserves the heart’s purest affection, the soul’s most ardent praise?
“My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145.21)
According to Thy gracious word,
In meek humility,
This will I do, my dying Lord,
I will remember Thee.
Thy body, broken for my sake,
My bread from Heaven shall be;
Thy testamental cup I take,
And thus remember Thee.
Gethsemane can I forget?
Or there Thy conflict see,
Thine agony, and bloody sweat,
And not remember Thee?
When to the cross I turn mine eyes,
And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
I must remember Thee;
Remember Thee, and all Thy pains
And all Thy love to me;
Yea, while a breath, a pulse remains,
Will I remember Thee.
And when these failing lips grow dumb
And mind and memory flee,
When Thou shalt in Thy kingdom come,
Jesus, remember me.