Apr 23, 2010

What Would Jesus Eat?


What Would Jesus Eat?  To answer this question we must look to the Bible.  Jesus is only recorded eating a few times, but we know that being Jewish and perfect he would have followed the dietary laws of the Old Testament.  Jesus did not follow all of the rules that the pharisees had tacked on to the laws, but rather he followed the law with a desire to honor God.  Let me be clear before I begin, by saying that we are not compelled to follow these laws.  These laws were to set the jewish nation apart from the world.  Their very diet helped identify them as the people of God.  We can however learn from seeing God's protective shepherding of his people in this area.


Were these just random rules set by God, or were they healthy eating concepts that were way ahead of their time?  I believe they were the latter.  Jesus would have eaten whole grains at nearly every meal and since olives were native to Israel they would have plenty of healthy fats.  Fish were the most readily available meat source in Jesus' time and he is recorded fishing, cooking, eating and giving fish to others.  


Red meat was seldom eaten and Jesus may have had it once or twice a month.  It could also hardly be called red meat because they would only prepare it well done (no blood).  This is backwards to most people in our culture.  We eat red meat daily and fish once or twice a month.  Whole grains are seldom eaten in favor of white bread, white rice, and flour.  This poison was not even available in Jesus' time nor would it have been allowed.  Pork was off limits completely.  


The fish eaten by the Jewish people did not include catfish, shellfish, or mollusks such as crabs and lobster.  It was pretty much a given that if an animal were a bottom feeder (catfish), water filter (shellfish), or a scavenger (mollusks) they were forbidden.  It is amazing how true to science the Hebrew laws were.


All fruits and vegetables were permitted by God except grape products prepared by non Jews.  This was probably because the alcohol content would have been higher.  Let us also remember that wine today is different than Biblical wine.  Wine was permissible, but had only a mild amount of alcohol in it.   "Strong drink" (which was forbidden) in Biblical times was 3-11% alcohol.  Today, distillation increases alcohol content.  This method was not discovered until A.D. 1500. Modern wine has 9-11% alcohol.  In Jesus' time no Jewish person was drinking this amount of alcohol.  


What about snacks and drinks?  Jesus would have had fruits, grains or other healthy snacks.  We know this because he is recorded in Mark 11 as being hungry and going to a fig tree in search of a snack.  Another time his disciples chow down on grain in a field.  Jesus also enjoyed a honeycomb.  These were rare treats in those days but still more natural than the refined processed sugars of today.  It may be interesting to note that the only time he is recorded eating honeycomb is in his glorified body, but I think he probably had some before.  When it comes to drinks he is recorded as having wine and telling others to give water to people in need.  Jesus may have also had milk, but this was considered more of a luxury like honey.


How does this diet match up with the latest food pyramid based on scientific research?  Well, there are two variations.  Harvard has done one that has exercise as its base.  This is right up Jesus' alley since he did manual labor (carpenter), and walked everywhere.  The other more widely accepted pyramid begins with whole grains.  This just happens to be the most regularly eaten food of Jesus' time.  Produce, vegetable oils, and fish and poultry are the next steps of the pyramid.  The top contains sugary foods and red meat because we should only have them every now and then, and pork, shellfish, and mollusks don't even make the list.  


The food pyramid continually changes from decade to decade.  The newest one is based on our cunning 21st century scientific knowhow.  It is strikingly similar to how Jesus ate 2,000 years ago and God's people for 1,500 years before that.  All we had to do was read the Bible.  This timeless book continues to speak truth even in these postmodern times.  Jesus' diet may not be required for today, but it sure could not hurt.  Let's not forget Jesus' most important lesson on food--"It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  There is always a need for healthy eating, but only God can make us truly whole.


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15 comments:

Brian said...

Excellent read, that was very informative. I never thought about the alcohol content in wine from Jesus's time. Most people I know who seldom read the bible if at all are quick to justify drinking beer day in and day out because "hey ,they drank wine in the Bible all the time " . Beyond pointing out the fact that wine was made because of the inaccessibility of clean drinking water ,this is a very good point . Also love the fact that Jesus fished! It makes me sad that the fishing spot up by the bridge by Vinnie's in Mooresville has been fenced off and posted NO TRESPASSING.After at least 5 years of being open to the public. It is owned by someone from a local church here , as you can see the big three crosses and the scripture posted. My 4th of July's will never be the same , it was prime real estate for watching the firework wars from both sides of the Lake!

Debbie Garrett said...

That is really cool that Jesus ate by the food pyramid even though it did not exist yet. I guess we are not quite as smart as we think we are.

Tami said...

If you visit Israel today, you will find yourself following a fairly strict religious diet whether you like it or not. When I went for two weeks in college, between the food and all the walking, I actually lost weight.

Great article, Nate. Now if only I could get it from my head to my gut. =)

longing4heaven said...

Wow! This really makes you think! Too bad fish today are so polluted with mercury, etc. that it can actually be cause for worry. I think lack of omega fatty acids (that are found in fish) is the main reason for depression and all these other ailments in society. People have misused so much what God has given us, and polluted our oceans and rivers so much, that we now have to feel a little scared to eat the very fish He gave us to prevent so many physical defects! Just another sign of the last days I suppose....

Inside Nate's Head said...

The benefits of fish outweigh the mercury found in them. Besides you can get farm raised fish, where the waters are tested and purified. As for whether it is a sign of the last days you will have to wait for the rapture blog . . . LOL

DonnaG said...

Very interesting, Nate. Enjoyed reading it. Very informative:)

longing4heaven said...

Hmmm, I've always heard to choose wild fish over farm raised fish. Farm raised fish are clustered together in bins and fed a bunch of crap much like the chickens and cows on commercial farms. They are in a horrible, disgusting environment. I would have to take some time to get some links to that information, but if anyone wants to take some time to research that--it would be interesting. And keep in mind, even our USDA recommends pregnant women avoid certain fish while pregnant--the same USDA who really cares less about what they allow in our food--that should tell you something too about the quality of our poor fish nowadays.

Inside Nate's Head said...

I just looked it up Tiffany, you are right. There are very few farms doing it right, in most cases they are worse. Nutritionalists say that fish is still the healthiest meat even with the negatives, but you are right wild caught is better.

Jason said...

I would love to know where you got your alcohol percentage numbers for biblical times. I have never read anywhere in the bible that said that strong drink was between 3-11% alcohol. Until the mid 1800's alcohol was considered a gift from God and that only overindulgence was wrong.

1 who has been changed said...

On the "wine" or more accurately fruit of the vine, it was stored in skins, and the skin could not be reused. The reason it was able to be stored in a sewn skin, was that it was more like a thick paste(think concentrate) which was mixed with water when ready to be used. The natural sugar in the grapes would cause some natural fermentation over time. I.E. was not distilled like now to pump up the alcohol %. 3% would be closer to norm based on test done to day but would be affected by amount of water added, less water would be possible to increase % as well as when made up several days ahead of celebrations or feast days. With no frige or glass bottles they were limited in ability to store liquids of any kind for long periods.

Susan said...

Great information, Nate, really enjoyed reading it. Never knew that Jesus ate by the food pyramid. Very cool.

Inside Nate's Head said...

Google the following --percentage of alcohol in wine and strong drink in biblical times -- There is way to much scholarly research to repeat it all here, but you may check it out for yourself. Wine in the Bible days was always watered down. Two martinins would be the equivilent of 22 glasses of wine if it were say three parts water and one part wine (which was not unusual). We are not under the law so this is a matter of conscience, but Solomon tells us that if we are decieved about the effects of strong drink (of his day) we are not wise.

longing4heaven said...

Research also shows that the benefits from wine (especially red wine) dramatically decrease when you start to rise over the 10% alcohol per volume mark. And fyi, wines go up to 13.5% in the store, and over that they have to be sold in an ABC store according to law. (Don't know if that's VA state law or something federal.) The point is, we are not to harm our body so besides the alcohol altering our mind after a certain point, we also need to be aware that we are on a course to destroy the "temple of God" (our bodies).

Jason said...

scholarly research is not apart of the bible. That does not seem like Sola Scriptura to me. I thought it was not in the bible then you couldn't use it to define doctrine. I would think that making the claim that drinking alcohol in modern times is a sin and preaching one shouldn't do it would fall in line as a doctrine of sorts. So that would be basing doctrine off of historic research and not the bible alone. So your basing your opinion off of modern research about the past, while rejecting the historic view. reguardless of what the process was doing biblical times, the early church, the church of the middle ages and all churches up till the mid 1800's drank real wine.

Jason said...

Oh and I'm not talking about you nate, as I know you said its a matter of conscience and I think alot of people present it that way, but there are some that present it like doctrine.