In the book of 1 Peter, Peter writes to the Christians scattered throughout the region [1 Peter 1:1] in a time where trials and suffering were rampant in the Christian community due to the persecution that they faced. It is very much a letter of comfort and encouragement, as the apostle expresses his understanding and the empathy at their circumstances. While encouraging them to take comfort in the grace of God, he also challenges them to be steadfast in their faith and reminds them to conduct themselves appropriately as God’s elect people. In 1 Peter 2, the apostle addresses the importance of spiritual growth, especially since we have tasted that the Lord is good.
Taste – this was most likely inspired from Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the LORD is good. The Lord that Peter refers to in 1 Peter 2:3 clearly refer to Jesus, though the same conclusion cannot be as simply derived from the parent verse in Psalm 34, which was written at a time before the first coming of Christ. Well, it could certainly be a Messianic prophecy, but that’s a discussion for another day.
What does tasting the Lord mean? Certainly not literally – that’s as disturbing a thought as it is impossible. Perhaps Peter means for us to experience for ourselves, just like how he has experienced the goodness of the Lord. It’s like if you eat something, and after having a taste of it, you discover that it is delicious. Would you not begin to crave the next mouthful, and the next, until you’ve finished your meal, feeling momentarily satisfied – yet the next time you’re hungry, you begin to crave for that same meal again. I think this is the attitude that Peter is describing – having experienced God’s goodness, even just a little of it, surely you will want to experience it again and again and again. You’ll never get sick of the Lord. And the Lord is not a bad dish that has to be thrown out of the window. A true Christian will taste that the Lord is good.
Conversely, those who continue to dwell in sin will be unable to taste the Lord – and if they’re unable to taste the Lord, they won’t be able to know that the Lord is good. Why aren’t they able to taste the Lord? Because sin is in their mouth, and sinfulness is sweet to them. They’re intoxicated by the faux sweetness that sin provides and have no space left for God.
The idea of tasting the Lord is not uncommon – the Holy Communion, one of two important ‘rituals’ of a Gentile Christian, holds the very same idea. Mark 14:22 – Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” – We eat the body of Christ and we drink the blood of Christ, metaphorically, when we take the bread and drink the wine. By tasting the Lord, we enter the true faith. We receive the fullness of Christ, the grace of God. We are nourished.
Looking at the context of 1 Peter 2, Peter is not asking his readers to taste to see if the Lord is good – no, that has been done, as the letter was meant for the Christians scattered across the region. As Christians who were suffering for the gospel’s sake, they must have tasted the Lord, and have known that the Lord is good. Note the tense of this verse renders it not an instruction and not a command. It’s simply a statement of encouragement, of comfort, of reminder – Peter’s main motive wasn’t to tell the Christians to taste and see that the Lord is good – he knows that they have done so – he retained no doubt whatsoever regarding their identities as Christians and the fact that they’ve experienced that the Lord is good. His motive however, was to encourage spiritual growth – like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation [1 Peter 2:2] and he insists that if you’ve already tasted that the Lord is good, surely you’ll desire spiritual growth! How can you not? Going back to the delicious food analogy, you will crave that same meal again and again. Purely, spiritually, craving the Lord, his presence, his words, his grace, his mercy.
Have you tasted the Lord? Have you experienced the Lord? Have you understood (at least minimally) the Lord? If so, surely you would agree with the Psalmist and with Peter that the Lord is good. How would you describe your experience with the Lord? And how would you describe your experience with the Lord, if the experience was a ‘taste’? Sweet? Sour? Spicy? Salty? It’s kinda obvious that there’s only one way to describe it, isn’t it? The Psalmist of Psalm 119 puts it very aptly – How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! [Psalm 119:103].
If you have to describe the Lord with a taste, would it be sweeter than honey? I hope it is. And if it is, let’s look to growing in our salvation, by continuosly seeking the sweet, sweet Lord. And even if you don’t have a sweet tooth (I do, very badly); let’s also look to crave after the Lord, his presence, his words, his will.