A moment post-resurrection stands out in the innumerable important details in the Gospel narratives. It is a profound symbol (often overlooked) that sums up a higher truth about Christ's redemptive work and the life-altering power of his grace.
In Luke's Gospel (Luke 24:42ff), in particular, God unveils a poignant scene to us where Christ, having conquered death, sits down with his disciples to eat, an act that is both ordinary and extraordinary. Before them is this extraordinary, mind-boggling truth: Jesus has come back from the dead. And now, he wants to prove it by eating a simple, ordinary meal with them. But, it is the choice of food that is most significant. Jesus is given fish and honeycomb, which carries rich symbolism that transcends the immediate moment, offering a glimpse into the higher truth of Christ's salvific mission that affects us even today.
In the Old English translation of Luke, we encounter a nuanced detail often overlooked in modern renditions. The disciples present Christ not just with honeycomb but specifically with "beo-bread," a term that purposefully points readers to the Old English psalm's description of the Word of God as "swetran thonne hunig otthe beobread" — sweeter than honey or bee-bread  (Ps. 119:103). This subtle linguistic choice reframes the story, emphasizing the symbolic depth encapsulated in the honeycomb. In this offering, we find a blend of sweetness and sustenance, highlighting the multifaceted nature of Christ's redemptive work. As Abbot Aelfric of Eynsham says in one of his homilies, after his resurrection, Christ consumed roasted fish and honey's bee-bread: the roasted fish representing his suffering and the bee-bread his sweet divinity.
The fish is a familiar figure amongst Christians. It is a recurring symbol in the Gospels that stands out in church history as an emblem of Christ's suffering. The disciples are witnesses to his crucifixion, the ultimate sacrifice depicted in the imagery of the fish, which can be seen depicted thereafter in Christian art. Yet, post-resurrection, this symbol is not discarded; rather, it is consumed by Christ. The act of eating the fish becomes a poignant affirmation of victory over suffering and death. The scars of the crucifixion are not erased, but now, their meaning is transformed. Now, they are a testament of triumph, with the fish symbolizing Jesus' act of consummation.
The sweetness of grace, depicted as honey, and the sustaining properties of bread (and all that means beyond simple, earthly food) converge in the honeycomb, underscoring the holistic salvation extended to all who hunger for heavenly satisfaction and respite.
In parallel, but almost forgotten by modern Christians, is the honeycomb, or "beo-bread," a symbol of grace and mercy. And beyond its sweetness, the honeycomb also holds medicinal properties, offering healing and restoration. This choice of sustenance signifies the comprehensive nature of Christ's redemptive work. The sweetness of grace, depicted as honey, and the sustaining properties of bread (and all that means beyond simple, earthly food) converge in the honeycomb, underscoring the holistic salvation extended to all who hunger for heavenly satisfaction and respite. So Christ's resurrection does not merely negate the bitterness of sin; it changes it into a source of divine sweetness, embodying the promise of a new life for us and a restored existence overshadowed by heavenly hope.
More than that, Jesus comes to sit and eat with us too. That meal he partakes in after his resurrection is not reserved only for the disciples. It extends to the present and into the future to life everlasting. In the dichotomy of Christ's death and resurrection, in his suffering and grace, we find the meaning of our suffering and death and why we need the grace and resurrection of Jesus bestowed upon us. The challenges and trials we daily face, akin to the fish, are not dismissed by the resurrection but embraced and redeemed. Christ's act of consuming the fish becomes an invitation for us to acknowledge and surrender our own sufferings to him, trusting in the life-changing power of his victory over our sin, this evil world, and the devil and his wicked angels.
Simultaneously, the honeycomb beckons us to partake in the sweetness of divine grace, especially at the Lord's Table, where we consume Christ's body and blood, which bequeaths forgiveness, a new life, and the promise of eternal salvation to us. It is a constant reminder that our sustenance and healing come not from our efforts, our hard-won daily bread, but from the inexhaustible source of mercy found only in Christ.
The "beo-bread" is our spiritual nourishment, embodying the promise that Christ's grace is readily available to sustain us on our pilgrimage from the cradle to the wedding feast of the Lamb. In this profound moment of shared sustenance, Christ communicates a higher truth that transcends time and culture, resonating with the deepest yearnings of the human soul. The fish and honeycomb, consumed by the resurrected Christ, become symbols of redemption that point us to the ultimate truth: we are destined to dine with him in heaven.