The Taste of Worship
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (v. 8).- Psalm 34
Music is not the only important consideration when we speak about worship. Taste is also a vital part of Christian worship, specifically when we gather around the Lord’s Table to feed upon Him by faith.
The importance of taste in our experience is seen in how we use taste metaphorically to talk about other realities. Our referring to unpleasant sounds as “sour notes” emerged from the fact that when most perishable items turn sour they become unenjoyable, even inedible. We might describe people as having “sweet” dispositions because they bring us joy, as does eating sweet foods. Such imagery is also used in Scripture to help us develop holy affections. For example, Psalm 34:8 powerfully depicts the pleasure found in the Lord when it calls us to “taste” the goodness of God.
Our Father has used the sense of taste throughout history to help His people recall and understand the depths of salvation. For example, Israel ate bitter herbs during Passover (Ex. 12:8) to recall the bitterness of slavery before God rescued the nation from Egyptian bondage (1:8–14).
We who live under the new covenant have also been given directions for using taste in worship. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are to use the elements He has consecrated lest we miss the lessons God wants us to learn from the holy meal. There are specific reasons why Jesus consecrated bread and wine, not Coca-Cola and candy (Matt. 26:26–29); looking at these elements helps us understand what they teach us when we partake of the Supper.
Bread is a staple food throughout the world and therefore reminds us that God sustains us by meeting our every need. Jesus is the “bread of life” (John 6:35), so eating bread in the sacrament shows us that we must feed on Christ spiritually to meet our spiritual needs, just as bread satisfies our physical hunger.
Though wine can taste bitter, the Lord gave it to “gladden” our hearts (Ps. 104:14– 15), and we often drink wine at parties and other celebrations. Bitter wine depicts the bitterness of Good Friday, when Jesus suffered shame on the cross. At the same time, the redemption Christ purchased there makes us glad; thus, it is right that we drink what was given to make us glad in remembrance of His great sacrifice.
God designed the elements of the Lord’s Supper to teach us specific things about His salvation, so it is appropriate for us to think carefully about what we learn from the taste of the bread and the wine as we gather at His Table. As we consume the bread and the wine, let us recall how Christ nourishes us just as bread nourishes our bodies and see that what was most bitter for Christ is now most joyous for those of us who trust in His name.
Passages for Further Study
2 Chronicles 30
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