Eating The Bread Of Life - Continued
August 11, 2018
Verse: Psalm 145:16
Christ Lutheran Church
August 12, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Eating The Bread Of Life – Continued
You open your hand; and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:16
Today the church gathers to feast on Jesus the Bread of Life. He is the Bread that IS life and GIVES life. He is the bread that satisfies. The bread that sustains and nourishes us into everlasting life which is what everybody wants.
All people are engaged in the same pursuit, they are in a race, a mad dash, and desperate rush to get what they can, and live as well as they can, until they no longer can – which nobody wants to think about.
But in the church we do. Not because we are fatalistic, or more noble than other people; but because we are baptized; and because we are nourished by the True Bread of heaven, and made immortal by it.
And though we have fear of death because of the sin that inheres in our flesh; we still confidently confess with St. Paul “O grave where is thy victory, O Death where is thy sting.” (1 Corinthians 15:55) We have this confidence because our Lord Jesus Christ “opened his hands” on the cross to reconcile us to God: to satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Jesus is the Bread that satisfies. When our Lord says: I am the Bread of Life, whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst (John 6:35), he was not talking about bread for the belly, but bread that satisfies the heart, the mind, the soul, and gives us blessed rest in the midst of life’s desperate struggles.
It seems that we are never satisfied. We want what we don’t have; and don’t appreciate what we do have. Indeed, the only time we really appreciate something is when its gone; and that cannot be helped. Not by platitudes, positive affirmations, or by trying to be mindful because only communion with God can satisfy those who are made in the likeness of God, which we are! Christ be praised!
Recently a news article reported that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is the richest man in the world. The article noted that he would have to spend $28,000,000 each day to prevent himself from becoming richer. Anything less than that, and his fortune keeps getting bigger all by itself. But is he happy?
He probably is.
But not necessarily because of the money. The more you have of something the less it means: even money. That cannot be helped because sinners are, by nature, never satisfied. But are “greedy”, as our epistle says “to practice every kind of impurity.” (Ephesians 4:19) And so when the Psalm says that the Lord: opens his hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing, it says a mouthful. It bespeaks the forgiveness of our sins, a New Creation in Christ, and peace and rest for our weary souls.
And so God assembles the baptized today for just that purpose. To satisfy our desire by filling us with Jesus, the Bread of Life.
We feast on him spiritually. That is to say we hear the Divine Word as it is read aloud, as it is preached, prayed, confessed and sung. It enters our ears, and penetrates into our hearts which is Bible lingo, not for our emotions, but for the core of our being. It’s an important distinction.
But we do more than that. We eat his Flesh and drink his Blood in the Lord’s Supper. It is called “the Lord’s Supper” because he is its content. Yet unlike Rome or the East we don’t believe that the bread BECOMES the Lord’s Flesh, or the wine BECOMES the Lord’s Blood. Such conclusions are unnecessary because as Dr. Luther teaches us:
“Jesus’ flesh is not … fleshly, but spiritual; therefore it cannot be consumed, digested, and transformed, for it is imperishable … and a food of an entirely different kind from perishable food. Perishable food is transformed into the body which eats it. This food, however, transforms the person who eats it into what it is itself, and makes him like itself, spiritual, alive, and eternal.”
But let us remember that “spiritual” does not mean “imaginary” or “symbolic”. Nor does our faith make the Sacrament what it is. Rather it is the Word, Promise and Institution of Jesus make this Bread and Wine the Holy Eucharist; the very Flesh and Blood of Christ that satisfies the hungry soul.
True, it will not benefit anyone without true faith; indeed it will harm them, which is why we practice "closed communion." But our faith, or lack thereof, cannot change the institution of God. And so as we eat and drink this precious Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins, our hearts are set at rest, we are peace with God, and filled with gladness and joy.
But not only does eating the Lord’s Flesh and Blood satisfy us, we learn in today’s Old Testament lesson that it sustains us for our life-long journey back to “the Mountain of God” from whom we came.
Consider Elijah who we encounter in today’s Old Testament lesson. He was an indefatigable champion of true religion. He came in divine power. He could stop the rain for three and half years with a prayer, and turn it back on again with the same.
He raised the only child of the widow from the dead and returned him safely to her. He challenged 300 prophets of the false god Baal to a contest of religions which he handily won; and then he slaughtered these 300 false prophets with his own sword.
But when we meet Elijah today he is severely depressed! Burned out. Finished. So done. And ready to cash in his chips. Israel’s Queen Jezebel, who worshiped Baal, had put out a contract on Elijah and he had had enough! He prayed that God would end his life here and now: but God did not. Instead, he restored Elijah, and he will restore you as well!
He put Elijah into a deep sleep under a Broom Tree, which is a type of the Cross of Christ, and sent an angel to minister to him. To wake him up from his slumber and give him food to eat and water to drink even though they were in the wilderness.
Then he sleeps again, and awakes again, to eat and drink yet once again because the Lord was going to send him on a journey. And we read in 1 Kings 19:8 that Elijah, “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the Mountain of God.”
What kind of food does that? It was not the Bread of Heaven that we receive at the altar today. But it was an unmistakable prophecy of it. Of our Blessed Sacrament which never wears off. But which “strengthens and preserves us in the one true faith unto eternal life.” And that is, finally, the point of why the church administers the Word and Sacraments that she does. She administers eternal life.
A local funeral home advertises: Live well. Leave well. A soap job if ever there was one!
But the church teaches both. How to live an innocent and blameless life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. (Phil. 2:15) And how to rise from the dead and live forever. “Savior, teach us so to rise.” (TLH # 159)