“…So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go?’”
—The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John
Jesus had just blown their minds.
“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them,” he had told them. “Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
Nobody in the synagogue in Capernaum had ever heard anything like that before. Say what? Go ahead, pull the other one.
But Jesus wasn’t pulling anyone’s leg. Everyone who heard him could tell that he was deadly serious. That’s why they left. Because Jesus believed in what he was telling them.
“This teaching is difficult,” many of them responded. “Who can accept it?”
Many still find it hard to swallow today. They shouldn’t. Swallowing an idea and being utterly transformed by it has been occurring throughout human history, sometimes with wondrous results, at other times starting wars.
We are surrounded by people who’ve swallowed an idea. Look in the mirror, there’s one now. Most people have swallowed dozens of ideas and sometimes found their lives revolutionized.
People swallow an idea about a particular diet and their bodies are visibly transformed. Others swallow yoga or meditation and find inner peace. Some swallow the idea that running or walking every day is the right step toward health and achieve fantastic results.
Look at the advertisements that surround us online, on televisions and radios, in newspapers, magazines and on billboards. They are solely designed to get us to swallow an idea.
Consider all of the people who swallow the idea that they should became a fan of this or that sports team. They start painting their faces in team colors, dressing up in the team’s jersey and watch every game. They plan their lives around the team’s schedule.
So, this idea-swallowing ability of human beings is an every-day thing.
“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” Jesus tried to explain, but some just didn’t understand. Most of them undoubtedly got stuck on the image of literally eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood, rather than swallowing the idea that there is a spark of divine love inside them. A spark that is like a seed, waiting to be sown and cultivated, and, then, fully harvested to become the bread of heaven.
A Christ-ness inside them, if they’d only swallow.
But some, like Simon Peter, absolutely got it. No, he didn’t yet understand completely. That wouldn’t happen until after the resurrection. But Simon Peter knew he’d found something unlike anything else on earth. He is bewildered, mesmerized but intent on following the train of thought.
When everyone else looked at him, Simon Peter knew, they saw only a simple fisherman. But, when Jesus looked at him, he somehow saw the light of the world.
And that blew Simon Peter’s mind.
But he wasn’t about to walk away. There was no other place he could possibly go. No one else who would ever look at him that way.
The way Jesus looks at us, seeing the light of the world.
If we’d only swallow.
And shine into the darkness.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.”
The Psalmist wants us to hold nothing back.
Wants us to shout ‘Hallelujah’ from the highest peak and from the deepest valley. From the brightest day and from the darkest night.
Give thanks to the Lord with our whole heart.
Every inch. Each corner of our heart.
Across our heart’s entire lifetime.
Down every hallway of our heart and inside every room—even those that we keep carefully locked, and sometimes pretend aren’t there.
But, we must unlock those rooms, go inside and turn on the light.
Because we might just find something else.
Something quite unexpected, something wondrous and life-changing.
I know that is what I found.
Down certain hallways and inside particular rooms that I have carefully locked and then walked away from—trying to convince myself that I have moved on from what’s inside them—is where I found the holes in my heart.
The places of deepest pain and sorrow too wide to wade through.
The places that are over my head.
The places that make me feel as if I am drowning.
How, I asked myself, can I shout “Hallelujah!” about the things that had made so many holes in my heart?
How could I possibly give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart for those holes in my heart?
Such a thing is impossible, I told myself. It simply can’t be done.
But then I turned on the light and found there was a way after all. I discovered that I wasn’t alone in that room that I had carefully locked and walked away from. The Lord had slipped in beside me after I’d turned the key, opened the door and stepped inside.
No, I was not alone.
I felt the Lord surrounding me with love, filling the holes of my heart with love.
I was astonished. Amazingly, the holes were where the Lord’s love most truly found me.
A love that flowed into every hole in my heart, filling each of them until the love ran over, and I felt the current of that love taking me away, out of the room, down the hallway.
And I heard the key falling to the floor.
I wouldn’t need it anymore.
The door will remain open. The light always on. The shades ever raised.
The holes, I admit, are still there. Right there in my heart. They always will be.
But they are no longer places to mourn and fear because they are filled now with the Lord’s love.
The holes in my heart truly are where the Lord loves me the most. There, where I am so utterly vulnerable and powerless to resist.
For that I absolutely can and do shout ‘Hallelujah!’ and give thanks with my whole heart.
Every square inch of my lifetime.
Holes and all.
Every single one of them.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Come and get it.
Breakfast’s ready. Lunch and dinner, too.
This kitchen serves it up 24-7.
Open all day. Open all night.
Never a second when the door is closed and none of the doors have locks.
And there’s a place around the table for everyone.
Yes, come and taste and see that Lord is good.
In fact, the Lord is something quite special.
Delicious and sustaining.
A meal unto itself.
“Taste the Lord.”
What an extraordinary invitation the psalmist extends to us.
We aren’t invited to read something and think about it.
We aren’t asked to lock ourselves away in deep meditation in hopes a revelation will come to us.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Merriam-Webster’s definitions of “taste” are telling:
“To ascertain the flavor.”
“To perceive or recognize.”
“To become acquainted with by experience.”
And all of these definitions directly apply to the invitation to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Ascertain the flavor of Love.
Become acquainted with Love by experiencing it.
I mean, really, what more could we possibly want?
After all, this love is all we need.
And for that we can thank Jesus and the door he opened to the Trinity of Love and our relationship with it.
The concept of the Trinity can be difficult to wrap our heads around. Let’s leave our heads out of it and use the taste buds of our soul, instead.
Think of the Trinity as the most incredible meal in the history of the world. The Holy Spirit is the wondrous scent that whets our appetites. We can’t see it or taste it, but we know it’s there, invisible but palpable. Jesus is this Love made manifest among us. The sight of this Love. The voice of it. The touch and feel of it. And it is Jesus who leads our souls to a direct place at the table with this Love:
“I in them and you and me, may they be perfectly one,” he prays to Love in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John.
A prayer that was answered.
God’s Love is already deep inside our soul. Taste this miraculous truth.
Swallow it. And inwardly digest the feast.