In Exodus 12 the children of Israel enjoyed the shedding of the blood of the passover lamb to fulfill the righteous requirement of God. Following that they were instructed to eat the meat of the lamb. By this eating they were energized, strengthened, supplied, and enabled to get out of Egypt. Their eating of the lamb was for moving out of Egypt. Eating brings us out of Egypt, the outer court, into the wilderness, the Holy Place. In the wilderness the children of Israel enjoyed manna daily, and in the Holy Place the priest enjoyed the bread of the Presence. The children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, but they were living by heavenly food.
EATING THE FATTENED CALF WITHIN THE FATHER’S HOUSE
In Luke 15 the Lord Jesus told a parable of a loving father and a prodigal son. After the son came back, the father clothed him with the best robe and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet (v. 22). The father ran to receive the returning sinner and clothed him outside the house. Before being dressed, the prodigal son was a beggar and not worthy of coming into the father’s house. Although the son had been approved by the father and clothed properly, he was still hungry. Thus, the father ordered his servants to bring the fattened calf and slaughter it for his returning son to eat (v. 23). Then they proceeded to feast on the fattened calf within the father’s house. The robe is Christ as our righteousness to dress us, to clothe us, according to God’s righteous requirements that we may be justified in the eyes of God (Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9). The fattened calf signifies the rich Christ (Eph. 3:8) killed on the cross for the believers’ enjoyment.
Many Christians treasure the fact that Christ is their righteousness, but they neglect the eating of Christ for their inward enjoyment. God used Martin Luther to recover the truth concerning justification by faith with Christ as our righteousness. But the eating of Christ for our enjoyment still must be fully recovered among God’s children. The fulfillment of God’s purpose mostly depends upon the eating of Christ. Christ is our outward, objective righteousness so that we can feast on Him inwardly and subjectively.
After eating the fattened calf and being filled up, the son could do something to please the father. Our doing is not merely something out of the righteousness but out of the eating. If the father in Luke 15 had only dressed the son up and then told him to do something for him, he would not have had the strength. The son was dressed nicely and cleansed thoroughly, but he was hungry and empty within. He had no energy, no power, no strength, and no filling up. After we have been brought to the table to feed on Christ as our feast, we will be so active, waiting for the Father’s command. We will have the strength, the energy, and the supply of life to carry out the Father’s will.
We value the objective side of the Lord’s redemption, our justification through His precious blood. But our redemption and justification are so that we can eat Christ, enjoy Christ. The father of the prodigal son dressed him up outside the door for him to come in and feast at the table where they could eat and be merry. All of us need to be those feasting on the Lord to enjoy Him. We may have been saved through the Lord’s redemption, but how much have we been feasting on the Lord? In our experience are we outside the door of the Father’s house or inside the door feasting on Christ with all His riches? You may be outside the door clothed with the best robe, with a ring on your hand, and with sandals on your feet, but how are you within? Are you satisfied and filled up or empty? We all need to eat the Lord to be filled with Him. When we eat Him, we are enjoying Him as the tree of life. Christ as the Lamb of God enables us to be justified by faith so that we can be brought back to the enjoyment of Christ as the tree of life.
(Excerpt from The Tree of Life, ch. 6)