Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. Hebrews 13:9

Judaism taught that eating ceremonial food strengthened people spiritually. Moses’ regulations instructed the Israelites to eat the peace offering (or fellowship offering) (Leviticus 7:11-18). They believed that physically eating this offering and participating in these rituals brought spiritual benefit. However, these rituals were symbolic and ultimately pointed to Jesus’ sacrificial death.

Under the new covenant, we feed spiritually on Jesus who by his death on the cross strengthens us. He is the source of the saving and sustaining grace of God.

The crowds were offended when Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

They didn’t understand that Jesus was using a metaphor to explain that we are to rely on God to sustain us spiritually the way we rely on food to sustain us physically. Spiritually we are strengthened by the grace God gives not by attending ceremonies or completing rituals.

When Jesus instituted what we now call the Lord’s Supper or Communion, he again parallelled bread with his body. “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

Jesus is to be like bread to us, a daily necessity for health and strength. We draw on this by having a humble attitude which acknowledges our weakness.