Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Journey, part 29: The Blessing

Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. (Luke 9:16 NASB)

In every instance of Jesus breaking bread, whether to feed a multitude or for a meal with his disciples, it was preceded by blessing the bread. The word translated as "blessed" is eulogeō, and literally means "to speak well of". In this instance, it is used to indicate words of consecration and request for God's blessing. This word can also be used to indicate the offering of praise for God's goodness and to indicate a desire for God's glory.  In essence, when Jesus looked up to heaven, holding the bread and fish in His holy hands, and "blessed" the food, He was consecrating it to God, asking for His blessing, and praying that the blessing would bring glory to God. When the disciples starting taking up those twelve baskets of leftovers, it was apparent that God had done just that. No one there that day had any doubt that the feeding of the multitude was a miracle of God. 

As the body of Christ, we commonly "ask blessings" for our food as well as for our plans and actions. I wonder, though, if our eulogeō might not sometimes become a eulogy of rote, just words without heart. Are we consecrating our food, plans, lives to God alone? Do we want God alone to be glorified? 

Lest we misunderstand this business of consecration, let's examine the word a bit. To consecrate something is to dedicate it to God or to sanctify it. To sanctify something is to purify it or free it from sin. Of course, only God can sanctify us. When we ask for God's blessing, we are asking Him to begin His work of blessing by purifying us and freeing us from the sin that so easily entangles us. If we want Him to be glorified, this purification, freeing us from sin, must be done. 

When Jesus, who never sinned, but remained pure and sanctified, asked God to bless and be glorified in the breaking of the bread, a miracle happened. Perhaps if we were more intent on being purified than on receiving blessings, we, too, would see the miraculous intervention of God in response to our prayers. 

Understanding this work of consecration and purification is a vital part of the journey of a disciple, and must be developed if we are to become all God intended us to be. As we bow our heads to ask God's blessing, may we ask first for His purification, for it is only in the purifying that we see all the blessing He intended to give. It is in that holy cleansing that the miraculous begins and our Lord is glorified.