"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
As I enjoyed a steaming plate of angel hair and marinara tonight, I found myself considering this verse. Its strange, I know. Italian food doesn't normally translate into theological reflection, at least not in my experience. Certainly, I have yet to stumble across a brilliant idea with a fork-full of pasta and marinara in my mouth. But tonight, the taste of tomatos, basil, and garlic, some of my favorite flavors, sent my thoughts drifting to the truth that "the Word became flesh," the way good aromas drift through a happy home.
Really, what did it for me was this thought: "I wonder what food tasted like to Jesus." This may seem totally inconsequential to you, but think about it for a moment. What did it taste like for Jesus to share fresh baked flat bread with his disciples? How did he enjoy the flavor of the exquisite wine he created from water at the Cana wedding feast? What about the pan-fried fish he cooked up over good conversation with a puzzled and shamed Simon Peter?
I have to believe that Jesus really enjoyed the food he encountered. Why? Jesus of Nazareth is the only human who ever lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, completely surrendered to the will of the Father at every moment. He was the Word--the will, message, wisdom, mouthpiece, person, incarnation of God. When he put the harvest of the earth to his lips and wet his tongue with the fruit of the vine, however simply and mundane those flavors may have been, he understood exactly from where his sustenance came. I imagine that makes for an amazing meal every time.
I love the humanity of Jesus. I know this isn't popular to say today. Most of the time, we're very concerned to stress the divine nature of Jesus. And, that's ok. But tonight, as strange as it is, my angel hair pasta made me awed at Jesus' humanity.
Jesus of Nazareth--the one through whom God inaugurated the Kingdom of God--the one through whom life poured forth like a rushing river--the one through whom God saw fit to reconcile all things--this Jesus is remarkably, scandalously human. His flesh bled. His nose ran. His tears made his face puffy. His fingernails became dirty. He got eyelashes in his eyes and picked slivers out of his hands. He bit his tongue and scraped his knees. Sweat ran down his face. Sun burned his neck and sand harrassed his calves. He laughed, he cried, and he became angry.
And, getting back to my original point, he enjoyed mouthfuls of food--some good, some bad, I'm sure. But, with each bite, he savored the flavor of the material world with which God was sustaining him and carrying him to his ultimate act of obedience. Our Savior is the Word became flesh. Human flesh. Living, breathing, eating, drinking flesh. What a wondrous thing. What a fabulous way to redeem the world.