Christ Lutheran Church
August 8, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Strength Of That Food
And the angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat for the journey is too great for you. And he rose up and ate and drank, and went on the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, God's Mountain! (1 Kings 19:8-9)
Let us revel and rejoice in the fact that Jesus is the Bread come down from heaven, who gave his flesh on the cross for the life of the world. To make the dead world alive. To liberate the cosmos that was kid-napped by the devil who is the most cruel, heartless and inhumane creature in all existence. And who has recruited many people for his cause.
Who are these people? They are the ones St. Paul speaks of in today’s epistle when he writes, “Their understanding remains darkened, and they stand alienated from God's life due to the ignorance that resides in them, and the obstinacy of their hearts. They are vacant! They have given themselves over to cruelty and to acts of sexual impurity which they greedily pursue.” (Eph 4:18-19)
Yes the Man Christ Jesus gave his flesh for the life of the world. Stood trial for our sins; was judged for us; shamed for us; suffered for us; died for us. But he also conquered the grave for us. And is with us always, in the church, to the end of the age.
But please know that the gospel of our salvation is little more than a list of talking points if we ever deny his Eucharistic flesh and blood, the Strong Food which he feeds the Baptized every Sunday. “Lord give us this bread always!”
For only this Bread suffices for the journey that every Elijah must take. A journey that involves swimming upstream our whole life long without rest – and who is equal to it? But even there our journey does not end!
For a time it takes us back into the ground from which we came, then raises us up again immortal and incorruptible. Up from the ground, into the air to meet the Lord, beyond the clouds, the sun, the stars and to the utter boundaries of the created universe, which is where God’s Mountain begins.
But who is equal to such a journey?
And where does one obtain nourishment for it?
When the Lord’s angel told Elijah, "Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you,” he was not over-stating the case! For our goal is nothing less than his: God’s Mountain! The New Jerusalem of which we are citizens by faith in Jesus which justifies us.
The 40 day, 40 night journey that Elijah made was prophetic of our Lord’s journey from the cradle to the cross, “When powers of earth and hell arose …” against him. (TLH #164)
But it is also emblematic of ours journey, of the Baptismal Life, in which according to today’s epistle we, “Put off the Old Man with all his lusts and evil desires; by which we renew our minds with Christian instruction and: clothe ourselves with the New Man created by God in true righteousness and holiness.” This journey requires nothing less than the Bread of Life come down from heaven; the very Bread of Heaven that we are nourished with in the Supper of the Lord.
“O taste and see that the LORD is Good! And blessed is the strong man, that takes Refuge in him.” (Ps. 34:8)
If there is any problem within the Lutheran faith it is that sometimes we emphasize the power of sin, and the weakness of the flesh to the exclusions of “the strength of his Bread” which makes us superior to all our enemies.
A concise doctrine of original sin is important because it keeps us from becoming self-righteous; and confirms the truth of the Lord’s saying: “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5)
But that said we are not apart from the Lord because Jesus makes clear: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)
Now if Jesus is your place of residence. If you live inside of him and if he resides inside of you. Then we have strength needed for the journey; then we have endless endurance, from an endless supply of Living Bread: to see us past every obstacle put up by the devil the world or the flesh.
And this makes us legitimate contenders. Christian soldiers marching as to war: with the cross of Jesus going on before! A faith that we liturgically symbolize when we elevate the Eucharistic Bread and Cup; and ring freedom’s bells!
By this action we are saying that Christ leads the way! That he is our Banner. Our “Captain in the well fought fight.” That he is the thrice Holy Lord God of Sabaoth who leads his army, the church in spiritual warfare by the strength of This Bread: the fragrant Flesh of Christ that he offered to God for us: (Eph. 5:2)
This is the Living Bread come down from heaven, the only nourishment that empowers us to hear and heed the words of St. Paul’s when he writes:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger, irritation, verbal abuse and evil speech be put far away from you along with every kind of malice; instead be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God, in Christ, has forgiven you; and become imitators of God as beloved children. (Eph. 4:30 – 5:1)
And so let us seek this food perpetually; let us give thanks unto the Lord our God and pray that we never lose it! Because it can happen and has happened as recently as last year when nearly all the world’s churches closed their altars; and let their children starve to death.
And so never take it for granted but love it with your whole heart and soul and mind and strength. For on the strength of this food you will conquer all sin, death and the devil, rise up from the earth, and reach God’s Holy Mountain! Amen