11th Sunday after Pentecost (Prop 14 – B)
August 8, 2021
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Gospel from St. John.
Back in 2003, a man experimented what would happen if he only ate at McDonald’s for thirty days. The results were shocking, but not unexpected: he gained twenty pounds, his cholesterol went through the roof, he lost muscle mass, he was lethargic, and his heart palpitations were so severe his doctor begged him to stop. He was eating three meals a day, but they certainly weren’t good for him. I like McDonalds, especially their fries, but nowhere near that often. We know that too much fast food is not good for us, so why does McDonald’s make almost ten billion dollars a year in pure profit? Why do some people eat fast food every day? Could it be a habit? An addiction? Or just laziness and convenience? Regardless of the reason, that much fast food just isn’t good for you.
If putting unhealthy food into our bodies is bad, and we know that it is, why do we put spiritual junk food into our hearts, minds, and souls? Have you ever thought about your spiritual intake in this way? Probably not. We shovel in the French Fries of Facebook and Instagram and become depressed because our lives don’t match up the lives of others. We turn into vegetables in front of the television, repeatedly watching the same shows, or worse yet, binging shows full of nudity, gratuitous violence, and immoral behavior. We barely look up from our phones, so we miss the beauty of God’s creation and His continuous intervention in it. We have more information at the tips of our fingers than anyone before us and all we do is look at cat pictures and stupid videos. Americans, on average, check their phones ninety-six times a day, while those eighteen to twenty-four do so two hundred times a day! This isn’t healthy!
Now before you accuse me of being afraid of technology or railing against it, I’m not. I’m not some sort of secret Amish. I’m guilty of the same kind of eating. While technology is good, it becomes unhealthy when it dominates our lives. But spiritual junk food isn’t just what we consume via our phones, it’s what we take in in any form. They say, “Snickers satisfies”, but does it really? Do you try to soothe your loneliness, depression, or frustration with physical junk food? Do you try to find meaning in life by working so much you neglect your family? Do you try to fill voids in your life with porn, alcohol, or some other addiction?
Americans are hurting, bad. The sad truth is that depression numbers are on the rise and prescriptions to fix it are in high demand. Younger people especially are incredibly lonely, and it’s a direct result of the world in which we live and what we consume. Nothing on earth satisfies. Engaging in any of these behaviors may be satisfying in the short term, but over time they’ll leave you wanting more. You need to stop filling your bodies with spiritual junk; it’s just not healthy. God says, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”
This rich food is Jesus. He says in the Gospel, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” A few verses later Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.” Truly, truly means listen up, this is really important. Jesus is claiming to be God, which is why the people were going to reject Him (if they hadn’t yet), and that’s why He can take care of our spiritual hunger. He says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The Word of God nourishes us in every possible way. The more we eat, the better we’ll feel.
Oh to be fed with the Bread of Life and to know that He will never send us away or run out of grace. He says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” He doesn’t care that you’ve been binging on junk food when you seek His food. He just wants to feed you. Do you remember when the Gentile woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter? Jesus told, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” He then said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” She believed and just as He promises, He didn’t send her away empty handed, but filled. Forsake the spiritual fast-food restaurants for Jesus, the Bread of Life.
A debate has been raging for centuries over whether Jesus is talking about the Lord’s Supper in the passages from John 6. Some argue that Jesus is referring to Holy Communion here, while others disagree. I fall into the second camp that Jesus isn’t talking about Communion. Rather when Jesus says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” He’s referring to spiritually eating. Certainly, in the Lord’s Supper Jesus gives us Himself in the bread and wine, and this eating is crucial for our spiritual health. But what leads us to the Lord’s Supper is feasting on Jesus through faith. By spiritually eating the Bread of Life, we find our greatest needs fulfilled. Jesus promises you, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” As healthy food sustains us, so also does Christ. He feeds you His promises. He satisfies you with His peace. He fills your spiritual emptiness with love and forgiveness. He was sent to do His Father’s will which was to save you, and He did. We can eat all the earthly food we want, even the healthiest stuff on the planet, and we’re still going to die. But when we feast on Christ, we live forever. And until we enjoy the eternal banquet feast in Heaven, we satisfy our hunger for all spiritual things in Jesus, the Bread of Life.
As I’ve tried diets over the years, and as I wrestle with my laziness to start now, an important thing to do is to watch what you eat. Vegetables are icky, but healthy. M and M’s are delicious, but not healthy. It doesn’t seem right that the healthier foods taste bad. Anyway, restricting what we eat is the best way to lose weight and be healthier. Restricting the spiritual junk food we put into our hearts and minds is also the healthiest way to live as a Christian. I’m not saying that we need to give up our phones or TV’s, but more time in God’s Word is far more productive and beneficial. The Lord has drawn us to Himself that He might give us Himself that we would eat and live. Look to Jesus, know that He’ll never send you away, and that He will always feed you good things, Himself and all the blessings that come from believing in Him.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen