Sunday, August 12, 2012

“Rise and Eat” (1 Kings 19:7-8)

S-1332 11SAP/3B 7/29/12 Hymns: (O) #277; (S) #330; L.S. #306; #310; #312; (C) # 47

Text: 1 Kings 19:1-8; Ephesians 4:17-5:2; John 6:35-51

Theme: “Rise and Eat” (1 Kings 19:7-8)

Question: “Have you been invited for dinner?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’ And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:7-8).

Beloved in the Lord, last year while on the Holy Land Nour Tour, my dear friend from Bethlehem invited my wife and me for supper at his home. We left the Nativity hotel and went to his house for the evening. When we got there, his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and the future mother-in-law of his daughter where all in the kitchen; and in the yard another man was manning the grill. After about an hour or so, the food was placed on the table and my friend George said, “Let us rise and eat.”

When we sat around the table it was a beautiful sight. There was stuffed zucchini and grape leaves, grilled lamb chops and chicken breasts, tubule, humus, rice and many other dishes. There were only 11 of us, but there was enough food for more people—it was a beautiful banquet. We ate and when I said, “I’ve had enough,” my friend kept piling it on. I remember that night very well because we were treated as royalty. It was a night to remember with wonderful company, food and great conversations.

I am certain it was a very memorable day for Elijah also. His journey began in fear and ended up filled with faith. He was running for his life and ended up conversing with the Lord of Life. He wished to die, but God in His grace granted him new life.

The author of Kings informs us that Ahab tells his wicked wife Jezebel all that Elijah had done—killing the 450 prophets of Baal. Having heard this news, she promises revenge on Elijah: Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow’ (1 Kings 19:2). The author uses specific terms as a play on words. The irony about the term “messenger”, in the Hebrew language can be translated as angel or messenger. A little later, (which are the verses of our text), the author uses the same term for the angel who comes to the aid of Elijah.

Wicked Jezebel sends a messenger of death, but God sends a messenger of life. Jezebel sends someone to do her dirty work, but God comes to do the good work. The Angle of the Lord—the Pre-Incarnate Christ comes to His rescue, touches Elijah and says to Him, “Rise and Eat!” Twice the Angel of the Lord appears on the scene, to comfort, to strengthen and to encourage Elijah not to be afraid, but to go on in His might; and He feeds Him because the journey ahead is too great for him.

Here the Angel of the Lord affirms to Elijah and to all people the journey of life is too difficult if traveled alone. By His gracious visit, the Angel gives Him food and drink so that Elijah may continue the vocation and ministry the Lord has called Him to. What grace God showed to His servant Elijah in not giving him what he asked for, but reserved something better for him.

And so it is for us as His follower. God’s grace continues to be poured upon us to remind us that: Without His help, we can’t make the journey. But with God’s help, the journey becomes possible, plausible and pleasant; because of His strength and might at work in our lives. PAUSE.

This is a blessed story to remind us that, we, too, are invited to “rise and eat.” Week after week the Lord of heaven and earth gives us His food and drink to sustain us on the journey of life. Not only to sustain us as it did Elijah for 40 days/nights, but throughout our earthly pilgrimage to continue in our vocation and ministry of the Lord. We meet in this place to receive from Him the heavenly food which helps us overcome every messenger of evil and death, and receive the message of life and salvation.

Even though Elijah, the mighty man of God had done great and awesome deeds—specifically killing the 450 prophets of Baal and other miracles, he ran for his life and wanted to die. Yet the Angle of the Lord came to him, touched and fed him.

Thus we learn from this that there is nothing that we bring to the table when we are in Jesus’ presence. Rather we come as a sinner in need of a Savior, a sick person in need of a doctor, a sheep in search of a shepherd, a corpse in search of life! The prodigal son didn’t buy himself a new garment when he returned to his father. He came just as he was—tattered, and torn. And what did the Father do? He RAN to him. So Jesus comes running for us. He is not put off by the filth of our sin. Rather, wearing the blood stained and cross marred garments of human flesh He extends the heavenly welcome of forgiveness to us as redeemed sinners.

He touches us here in this place with His Word and soon with His heavenly food at His Altar. Here in this place, we are touched by the pierced hands of the One whose might is revealed by destroying every enemy of ours—sin, death, and the devil.

You and I have been touched by the Incarnate Christ. Touched by the mighty and powerful waters of Baptism; touched by the joyful proclamation of sins forgiven; touched by His hands as He feeds us the blessed body and gives us to drink from His precious blood.

This is what we need for the journey. This is not a luxury, but a necessity. We need Him to touch us, feed us and bless us. We need to hear often the words from His lips saying: “Rise and Eat!” Why? PAUSE.

Because, like the body, the soul needs bread or it will die. But unlike with our bodies, stuff that just looks like bread will not do the job. Some set before the hungry soul the loaves of man’s own works. But such bread is less than cardboard with no vitamins of forgiveness. Others serve up the packaged loaves of man’s own theology. But such bread is full of holes, hold­ing no sure promise of an eternal home. Where do you find the bread of heaven? The hungry soul needs to know.

In Jesus! When He described Himself as the bread of life in our Gospel reading today, He had more than flour, shortening, and water in mind. He meant His perfect life that would fulfill all of God’s commands and His precious blood that would be spilt in full payment for all sins. The soul, famished because of sin, can feast on Jesus’ payment and be filled. The soul, hungry for a perfect life to present to God in the judgment, can reach for Jesus’ right­eousness and be satisfied. For the hungry sinner, Jesus is not just good bread. He’s the ONLY bread that came down from heaven.

Now wonder, Elijah was strengthened for the task at hand. No wonder with the strength of God and the food he received; he went on serving God until the Lord took him home. Likewise, we need this food to go on in our ministry of serving in His Kingdom. PAUSE.

O faithful children of God: Rise as forgiven sinners and come to Him who has come to feed you for Life.

Rise as the Redeemed people of God and come to Him who has paid the penalty for your sins.

Rise as the precious people of God and come to dine with Him who is here to serve you not for 40 days, but your life’s journey.

Rise as the blood-bought children of God and come to Him who invites you now to eat at His table and as He gives you with His own hands the heavenly manna.

Rise and eat—the feast is ready and all are welcome. Amen.

Now the peace…


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