Readings: Exodus 16:2-21; Acts 2:41-47; John 6:1-15
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The Passover, the annual meal of the Jews, was at hand and Jesus the Good Shepherd makes His flock lie down in green pastures, and feeds them, restoring their soul. It is an impressive meal. More than two thirds of your annual salary couldn’t have provided enough food for that crowd. And besides what bakery anywhere ever has food for thousands on hand? Food in abundance given by God, and they were fed to the full. Completely satisfied. And still there was lots left over. Twelve baskets full from five loaves and two fish. This food will continue to provide for Christ’s twelve disciples. Just as His Supper is an unending source of the bread of heaven for His Church while on earth.
They said, “We ought to have died being smited by the Lord in Egypt. At least there our bellies were full.” (Exodus 16:2-3) For they, like we, are creatures of base desires. We are led by the stomach. Fill my stomach and I’m happy. Empty it out, and there is no reasoning with me. I get a special kind of angry. I get “hangry” (hungry/angry).
But the Lord your God supplies new food to crush your cravings. Bread from heaven that feeds you to the full. It stops your cravings for the food and life of slavery. For your God knows your needs and well provides. He over provides. He satisfies and satiates your soul.
He provides wine that makes your heart glad and bread that strengthens that heart (Psalm 104:15). So rejoice Church and attend holy days in her all you who love her. Drink deep from her consoling breast. Drink and be satisfied. (Isaiah 66:10-11; especially in the LXX) For there is a hunger within you. It seems insatiable. It is called sin.
But the Church is your mother. She is the one who suckles you at her breast (Isaiah 66:11), carries you on her hip, dandles you on her knee (Isaiah 66:12), and comforts you when you when you break (Isaiah 66:13). For she is the one who gave birth to you—the new you, the true you. That means on this side of heaven there are two yous: an old “sinner you” by natural birth, and a “new you” born from the Church’s womb of water and the Word (Ephesians 5:26; John 3:3, 5). And on this side of heaven you poor miserable children with split personalities are held tight to her bosom, comforted, fed, consoled at her Supper, given by her Lord.
His Word in baptism speaks you righteous. Just as it spoke all things into existence. But it is a declaration of a reality to come, not a completed change in who you are now. Baptism births you anew. The “new you” is perfect, forgiven, righteous, does nothing wrong. The “old you”—who was killed in baptism but still clings to you like a cancer that can’t be wiped out of your system and keeps coming back—wants nothing right, is unrepentant, does all things for selfish reasons. Thus, these two natures are waging war within you. Thus, your mother holds you close and comforts and feeds you from her breast as she would an infant.
Such delightful deliciousness! Food that fills. And you can delight and revel in this perpetual forgiveness, this unending salvation, this limitless food. Revelling usually describes rabble rousing and perverse partying. Something the sinful nature delights in—stirring up wickedness and evil, heaping guilt and shame on your head. The things of Satan. But this food removes shame. It draws you into itself to revel in the glorious abundance of the coming King who is this fount of life.
This is your food Church. This is your bread and butter. This is your life. It is why you come here. It is why you should come regularly, because here is your mother arms, open wide, her warm embrace, welcoming all, forgiving all with a place always set at her table for you.
Apart from this food the new you starves. The old corpse you arises, an evil undead thing. It overpowers the new you. You get hangry. You do not delight in the Lord. You delight in yourself. In judging, in nitpicking, in gossiping in your head and to others. Which is poison in life and especially in the Church. When poison is imbibed it kills. Thus, there is this food, Christ’s body and blood. It sopped up the poison of sin on the cross. It sops up the poison of sin in you. It is the remedy for sin now. It gives life. It gives access to the Father. It seats you at His table, welcomes you as His family.
Rejoice! Delightful deliciousness, edible salvation is yours.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON