Food is substantive. We are alive and so we eat food that is tangible, weighty. We are not sitting down to this Table in Sheol, or Hades, a place of grim shadows and shades.
So we are not eating shadow food, but rather the bread of heaven. On the level of our physical senses, of course, we are simply eating bread and drinking wine. But God has promised us that whenever we partake of this earthly bread and earthly wine in the name of Jesus Christ, in this setting, He will visit us, and bless us, and lift us by the power of the Holy Spirit into the heavenly places. And there we are partaking, as John Newton’s hymn expresses it, of solid joys and lasting treasure.
Solid joys. The texture of this bread, and the wetness of the wine points to a realm that is more material, more real, and more solid than what we experience now. Too many Christians think of heaven as an ethereal place, populated luminous ghosts in white linen, standing on clouds. Too many Christians think of heaven as nothing more than a well-lit Sheol.
Christ has risen, and through the power of the Spirit, we are partaking of Him in His life. We are not communing on a dead body; this is not cannibalism. Now of course there are aspects of this we do not understand. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but when we see Him we will become like Him for we shall see Him as He is. But this does not just happen instantaneously, at the moment of our resurrection. We are being fitted for this solid resurrection world, and we are being fitted for it now. We are being transformed from one degree of glory to another, as we behold the Lord in worship now. As we see this Table, as we approach it, as we sit down in faith, as we eat the bread and drink the wine, God the Holy Spirit is weaving us together, knitting us into the Head. Do we understand how He does this? Of course not, but we have faith in Him. We know that He is at work, because He is fashioning us according to His love, and there is nothing more solid than that love. Let us eat and drink it now.