Monday, July 9, 2007

Angel hair pasta and Jesus of Nazareth

"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.


Bob Cleveland said...

I'm with you on this one.

Jesus was invited to the wedding feast at Cana. Why? I can't think of much more of a wet blanket at a party than the rigid, Godly-sounding man we usually see portrayed in the movies.

I think He was invited because He was a Fun Guy at a party. Most people seem to ignore the fact that it was expected that people would get tanked at those things ... witness the head waiter saying that the good wine was normally served first, then the cheap stuff was trotted out when the guests had had too much to drink. Soused enough not to know the difference!

I cannot see any reason He'd have been invited, other than His being a neat guy to have around.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Hey Bob,

Thanks for visiting. I agree that Jesus enjoyed and was enjoyed at parties. Why would he use banquets and feasts as illustrations of the Kingdom of God if he didn't love to party? (I have a hard time with the thought of Jesus "soused" though. :)

But, really, someone who's entire identity and confidence is in the Father has to be a spectacular person to be around. Hence, people flocked just to catch a glimpse of him.

Take care,


Anonymous said...

I am waiting in anticipation of the marriage supper. WOW!!! Just the thought of that excites me.Being in the presence of the one who sought, bought,caught and has taught me. (still teaches me)Come on Jesus, what is that going to be like?? Well as MercyMe sings I can only imagine....Praise Jesus and Amen :-)

peterlumpkins said...


Thank you for inspiring me to think about Jesus' humanness. I must confess that I do not ponder our Lord's Manhood as surely I should.

I think your flair in suggesting Jesus' preferred tastes stimulates interaction. I wonder, rather than pasta, if Christ would like my specialty brew--Batdorf & Bronson's blend, Seattle Espresso. Just enough nuttiness to suggest a little bitter with a perfect pinch of sweetness to go down smooth. Ah...

For me, this is surely a preferred meditation of His humanness over the sometimes sappy image of Jesus in bluejeans, teeshirt and tennis-shoes huddled with the boys, telling jokes and enjoying His Bud-lite. Or, "having fun" if you please.

Not, of course, that our Lord was antifun. Surely we cannot deny the festive atmosphere of archaic celebrations. Yet, what we dub the "life of the party" I think I must, from my perspective, hold my tongue.

The more suitable snapshot I find deeply satisfying travels the innerly way rather than the outerly.

One may, if one wishes, brand me a Platonist, albeit I think one's innerly texture gauges far more accurately one's authenticity than any outerly overlay. Jesus the Man said "out of the heart springs forth..." There our Lord was authentic Human.

Enough rambling, Emily. Thanks again for pushing me in this direction.

Grace. With that, I am...


Emily Hunter McGowin said...


I affirm your emphasis on the "inner life" of Jesus. I think we would agree that his heart is what made his outward life so refreshing and challenging to those around him. What I would love to encounter most is the peace, joy, genuine love, and boldness that comes from one living fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit--the kind that can extend mercy to an adulterer *and* take the religious folk to task.

Thanks for your "ramblings," Peter. As always, your ramblings are worth the read.

Grace and peace,