August 16th – You are what you eat

Sermon – 12th Pentecost
16 August 2015
by Rev. Max Phillips
@Perry Lutheran Home &
Christ Lutheran Church-Bouton, Iowa

Text:  “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  [John 6:53-54]

There is an old street proverb that says, “you are what you eat.”  That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you eat mostly chicken, you pick up poultry habits of pecking and clucking.  Neither if you eat mostly beef that you like speaking certain words like sun and mooooooon.

At the Lutheran Home on Wednesday they were eating ‘fried green tomato’s.’  I’m not sure if eating that makes you vegetables or fruits…

You are what you eat is more like this.  Eat healthy and you probably will be.  Eat unhealthy and you’ll probably contribute to your own health problems.  Live a healthy lifestyle of hard work, fidelity in your marriage, proper discipline for your children, sacrificial love for your neighbor and you’ll likely have the respect of others.  Live an unhealthy lifestyle of selfishness, self-pleasure and greed and you’ll have a different kind of reputation.

In essence you are what you eat.  Jesus reminds us that he wants to be on your diet.

I almost stumbled theologically and said he ‘needs’ to be on your diet.  Jesus doesn’t need anything from us.  He doesn’t need your good lifestyle choices or your healthy body in order to collect you into His Kingdom. He doesn’t need to be on your diet, he wants to be and he keeps putting himself on your table.  It is you and I who need him as the rich supply in our daily diet.

The problem is there are a lot of wrong food choices available in this world and they push themselves on us and we aren’t able to make wise decisions. In fact we are helpless to change our situations.

Dr. Ken Klaus recently told the story of  Reynald, a heavy, 14th century Belgian duke who was overthrown by his brother, Edward.  Rather than having Reynald executed Edward took his brother to a remote castle and had a room built around fat Reynald.  Edward promised his brother freedom, title, property the very moment he walked out of that room.  Escape shouldn’t have posed much a problem because the room had an unlocked and unguarded door.  But Reynald didn’t leave that room for ten years.  Why?  Because every day he made bad choices.  Daily his brother provided for him a food feast.  Instead of dieting himself out of incarceration, Reynald grew ever fatter and make his imprisonment ever surer.

Dr. Klaus goes on to ask, “Isn’t that like humanity, isn’t that like us?  Satan, this world, our own sinful hearts, daily offer us delectable choices which keep us imprisoned.  Like Reynald, we are powerless to change things, though the world strives mightily to convince us that we can do anything we choose.

You want happiness?  Choose to leave your unhappiness and go and find it elsewhere.  You want wealth?  Choose to have it after all you deserve it.  You want love?  Give it, give it, give it and surely someone will return it.  You want the moooon, eat beef.

Jesus doesn’t need you, but he desperately wants you.  Of this there can be no doubt.  Think of where and how God speaks most boldly in the scriptures.  He speaks best, crystal clear in fact, out of our sin.

Adam and Eve fed on forbidden fruit and they became what they ate, sin.  Yet God did not write them off or lead them to a remote garden where perhaps they could one day save themselves if they became perfect and faithful again.  He wanted them desperately, despite their new state of corruption and their hearts of rebellion set against him.  He wanted them so much in fact that he gave them the best possible thing.  Hope that he would crush the devil.

And that he did.  On Calvary’s cross, Jesus ate our sin for us and became it.  The Bible proclaims this awful and at the same time, amazing truth.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”   [2 Corinthians 5:21]

Those that feast on the salvation diets of this world such as false Gods, false doctrines, self goodness or any other thing eat only death and then in hell they become it.  There is only one diet that leads to salvation.  It is the ‘Christ diet,’ which is without doubt the ‘life diet’.

What are you eating these days?

Many people fall away from the church because they don’t like the food that Jesus gives there.  All too often those outside the faith react negatively to a diet of grace.  They want to do it themselves.  They don’t want to become one of those who love first and ask questions later or those who forgive before the offender has truly earned it.  Or who help others even if it might mean not having enough for yourself.  Who would gladly eat that kind of diet of humility, submission, and unconditional love for sinners?

Me.  You.  All of those that Christ draws to himself!  That any fall away or don’t want to join a Christ centered, Bible believing church shouldn’t surprise us.

In the gospels, John records what happened when Jesus told the Jews, the Pharisees and all those following him that they needed to eat him.  They decided to feed elsewhere.  Of the big crowd that had been following him likely only the Twelve and very few besides them remained.  Jesus said to them, “You do not want to leave too, do you?  [John 6:67]

Before them was a choice.  They could eat a diet of culture, a diet of goodness, perhaps even a diet of church rules which by following would show them to be healthy and free from sin.  Or they could eat a diet of salvation grace by feeding on Jesus’ body and blood, feeding on His perfect self-sacrifice because they had feasted on sin.

Most chose culture, self goodness, church rules.  Who could put their hope solely on a diet of Jesus, his Holy Word, His Body and Blood?  Those that he draws to himself, like Peter.

“You don’t want to leave too, do you?”  Jesus asked.  To which Peter answered, “Lord to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  [John 6:68]  In essence he was saying, if you are what you eat, we want you!  Because we know where that diet of feeding on you leads; to heaven, to eternal life, to all the company of heaven, to forever and to that perfect relationship with God the Father, Christ the Son and God the Holy Spirit that our Triune God wants for us.

Peter wasn’t smart enough or good enough to choose to eat right.  He had been as worldly as they had come.  He had been drawn to that moment, just as you and I are drawn to baptism, to the Word, to the Sacrament, to the church.  We aren’t smart enough or wise enough to choose this either.  It is through faith that we come it is in faith that you are hear and being fed with these words..

Jesus told the truth when he said, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”  [John 6:65]  Some Bibles translate it as no one can come to me unless “granted” by the Father. [RSV]

What a miracle!  You have been invited to the banquet table, despite your sometimes unhealthy relationship with the world and personal desire.  God wants you so badly that he sent his Son to win and claim you so that he might feed you with the best diet here, His own Word.

Jeremiah knew this diet.    He proclaimed, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.”  [Jeremiah 15:16]  What were those words?  New realities, through new intimacies with the Father, all strengthened by what he gives to eat.

Isn’t it interesting how different our God is?  Gods in the ANE required food offerings, they demanded to be fed.  In some cultures still today, food offerings are brought for gods or dead ancestors to eat. Israel provided food offerings not to feed God but as a thanksgiving gift and so that blood could be shed showing the people the way to forgiveness culminating once and for all in the precious blood shed of the perfect lamb Jesus at the cross.

How different our God is especially from Satan, who is prowling around looking for food, sinners like us to devour.  Our God Himself is the food.  He says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  [John 6:51]   This he has done.  He has placed himself on your table for your good, because it is true, you are what you eat.  Through the Word we are grace.  Wonderful examples of God’s above and beyond love for you and every sinner.

God himself has granted your place at his table and he has made you his sons and daughters.  And we have heavenly feasts to look forward to.

The Word today sounds a caution to choose to “eat right” in this tempting age.  Not because you have to, but because he loves you and has redeemed you and feeds you with his love today and always.

Brothers and sisters, you are what you eat.  You’ve been drawn to the table of faith.  Eat Jesus as he bids you do for He will raise you up on the last day as he has promised.  And live joyously today, for he is in you!

In His Name,
Amen!

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