Saturday, March 22, 2008

“The Taste Test” (Jeremiah 15:16)

S-1043 3/20/08 MTIL/3A. Hymns: #621; 629 LSB; L.S. #305; 159; 428

Texts: Psalm 102; Exodus 24:3-11; Hebrews 9:11-22; Matthew 26:17-30

Theme: “The Taste Test” (Jeremiah 15:16)


Saints in Christ, tonight we embark on a most holy and sacred journey. This evening, we will join our Savior in the Upper Room, travel with Him to Gethsemane, and end up by the empty tomb on Sunday morning. As we are privileged to participate in these events, the Holy Spirit directs us to the words of our meditation by Jeremiah the prophet. “When your words came, I ate them; they were the joy and delight of my heart.”

“You’ve got to taste this,” My mother said, as she dished a spoonful of spinach to my mouth. You’ve got to taste this ….” So say our spouses now as they thrust their latest concoction of tuna casserole into our face. You’ve got to taste this” Said my mother-in-law as she offered me her specialty of an egg salad (can’t stand it), and my mother said to my wife, You’ve got to taste this” as she gave her a bit of a cow stomach to eat. But all this pales in comparison to the taste test conducted by a gourmet cook as she thrust dog food upon an unsuspecting guest!

One of my professor shared what happened at an elegant reception near Denver. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, an olive and a sliver of pimento on top. This was Alpo par excel lance. The hostess had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided it was time to put her skill to the ultimate test. After doctoring up those miserable morsels and putting them on a couple of silver trays, with a sly grin she watched them all disappear, and my friend just couldn’t get enough. I don’t recall how they broke the news to him, but knowing this guy, when he found out, he probably barked and bit her on the leg!

“You’ve got to taste this,” so says the LORD as he places His Word before Jeremiah. The taste test begins with Jeremiah’s call in 1:9, “The LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’” Later Jeremiah says, “When your words came, I ate them; they were the joy and delight of my heart.” “

Joy and delight” –. Jeremiah uses this word-pair four more times and each time are paired with “bride and bridegroom.” By means of this poetic word association Jeremiah evokes the connection between the exuberance, the ecstasy and the sheer excitement experienced by a “bride and bridegroom” each with the love of their life and eating God’s Word.

Having eaten this word Jeremiah is ready for what ministry would serve up. And yet his ministry was anything but troubles and hardships. People were out to hurt and harm him. They even attempted to kill him by dropping him in a well. However, when his enemies accused him God’s Word vindicated him and to came to his defense by claming that Jeremiah is echoing an earlier oracle from Micah 3:12: “Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins.” In chapter 29 Jeremiah hears about hopeless exiles so he writes them a letter with God’s word: “I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”

In Jeremiah’s lifetime Judah would lose everything; temple and sacrifice, their king and their cities and the biggest loss of them all their land. But Judah would still have the Word and this Word would undermine tyranny and mobilize the faithful. No wonder Jeremiah calls this Word his joy and delight, the love of his life!

To define our lives the LORD places His sacramental Word in our mouths as well. Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” And we say, “Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!”

But isn’t there something tastier, more appetizing, with a bit more pizzazz? Here it is. “For breakfast – one-half grapefruit, one piece of whole wheat toast, no butter, eight ounces of skim milk, coffee – black. Lunch – four ounces of lean broiled chicken breast, skin removed, one cup of steamed zucchini, herb tea, no sugar … one Oreo cookie. Snack – the rest of the package of Oreo cookies, one quart chocolate almond ice cream, one jar of hot fudge. Dinner – two loaves of garlic bread, heavy on the butter, one large sausage and pepperoni pizza, extra cheese, a large milk shake with whipped cream, and for desert – three Milky Way candy bars and an entire frozen cheesecake!”

Oh, we try, don’t we? We try to hunger and thirst for the sacrament. We try to repent and confess our sins before we approach the table. But then we slip one Oreo cookie. One crumb of coveting, one piece of pornography, one slice of slander, one sip of sarcasm, and then the rest of the package of Oreo cookies! We just can’t get enough and it’s killing us!

The enemy thrusts this junk food before us on silver trays and with a sly grin as he says, “You have got to taste this...” and watches it all disappear.

So we are reminded tonight that the LORD served up one more Word; a more vindicating Word than that written by Micah in Jeremiah’s defense, a more hopeful Word than that penned to exiles, a more victorious Word than that spoken against Babylon, and a more enduring word than that rewritten before Jehoiakim. For coming down past the galaxies, past the solar system, past the moon and the stars, this Word became flesh and appeared in the silence of a night, in the depth of a cave, in the whisper of a Baby. And as a Man His appetite is defined in Hebrews 2:9, “… so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”

Talk about a taste test! This was it for all time! Jesus tasted the demonic delight called death; the soldiers’ spit, their cheap wine, sweat running down His cheeks, His own blood. But there was more; He drank the cup of the Father’s wrath to the very last drop. He just couldn’t get enough and it killed Him.

Jesus not only tasted death. He swallowed him up chewed him up and spit him out!!! I Corinthians 15:54, “DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!”

And now the Spirit of the Risen Christ creates in us a new hunger and a new thirst for His true body and true blood.

When we eagerly and humbly come to the Holy Supper and later we are accused by the enemy, we say – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s body and blood enlivens hope in the midst of our hopelessness: “In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope.” When enemies mock and deny the Savior’s true presence we have a more powerful word, spoken by Jesus: “This is My body; this is My blood.” And sustained by this meal we face the enemy realizing and knowing that the victory is ours in Christ our Savior. The enemies of our souls, that would have us eat the bread of death and to drink from the cup of poison; we know that we have been delivered by Him who said, “Take eat this is My body, take drink this is My blood.”

“When your words came, I ate them; they were the joy and delight of my heart,” the love of my life. Tonight, we will be privileged to taste this Word made flesh. And when we do, we taste LOVE. Because we have tasted this love, we can leave here and share this love with others. Tonight, we will be privileged to taste this Word of forgiveness, and because we have tasted this forgiveness, we forgive others. Tonight, we will be privileged to know that God is patient with us for His Son’s sake, and because He is patient, we leave here and be patient in our dealings with others. All because the Words of Jesus says, Come and eat and taste this food, it is sweeter than honey comb. These words are the love of my life.

The words of the sermon hymn capture these thoughts to help us realize how blessed we are to taste the gift of heaven: “Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free. I do believe, that I receive his very body and his blood. O taste and see – the Lord is good” (LSB # 629.5).

Come and taste the feast is ready for you. Amen.

No comments: