Proper 14b, (August 9, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
(1 Kings 19:1–8, John 6:35–51)
TITLE: “Satisfied Desires”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter six, as well as the Old Testament reading from 1 Kings chapter 19.
Elijah was afraid. He was afraid because, in his work as the prophet who was faithful to Yahweh, he had angered the one person in all of Israel that you did not want to anger. He had angered Jezebel. Elijah had just finished killing the 450 false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. God had rained down fire from heaven and consumed the sacrifice to Yahweh. In the shadow of this victory, though, Elijah is afraid of Jezebel. Even now, nearly 3000 years later, the name Jezebel just drips of evil. It would be more likely for a child to be named Adolf or little Stalin than to be named Jezebel. She had sworn an oath, and the oath was ““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 ESV)
It is so easy in this life to think that if only I get over this hump, then things will be smooth. Once this crisis is past, then I will no longer need to be afraid. But it is not so. Our hearts are fickle and forgetful. We may be victorious over the lion, and turn around and be terrified of the lamb. Hearts don’t make sense. And only too often, the signs of God’s faithfulness one day fade away as a distant memory. “What have you done for me lately, Lord?” So we may ask with Elijah.
So Elijah runs and hides. He rides a day’s journey away from Queen Jezebel and her minions. But it isn’t enough, and Elijah even goes to the point of wishing he were dead. ““It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV) I wonder if a psychologist would call that an ideation, that Elijah is ready and willing to do the deed, to die or be killed, so that he may escape his troubles.
Our sins and fears and unbelief have a way of catching up with us, don’t they? I am no better than my fathers, cries out the prophet. Are you? No, you are not. Your sins and fears and unbelief are no less than your parents, and theirs before them. Like Elijah, you may have moments of faithfulness, surrounded by a lifetime of fear and uncertainty. It can certainly feel that way, can’t it?
But notice what happens next in this text. The angel of the Lord appears to Elijah, and He does something remarkable. Twice the angels touches Elijah. The angel reaches out His hand and touches Elijah. By the way, the angel of the Lord as we see Him in the Old Testament is Jesus before His birth. And Jesus doesn’t berate Elijah. He doesn’t scold him or belittle him. “And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”” (1 Kings 19:5 ESV)
When we sons and daughters of Adam are stressed and fearful, when we are sorrowful and uncertain, there is one thing that is almost universal: we eat. Today we might call it comfort food. Comfort food is something that reminds you of home, of a place and time when your life was stable and you could understand what was going on. Mom’s spaghetti recipe, dad’s root beer, your grandma’s dessert with way too much sugar in it. Food tells your body that things are still happening. Life continues, and everything that goes with it.
So when the angel of the Lord gives Elijah this food, he is comforted and strengthened. Our text continues with the angel’s touch and words, ““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 ESV)
When it comes to the things of this world, the sorrows from yesterday, the fears of today, and the anxeity for tomorrow, when it comes to these things, you, like Elijah, cannot do this journey alone. It is too great for you.
But here’s the key, dearly baptized. You, like Elijah, like the people in Jesus day, like the disciples, and like the Church of all times and in all places, you are never, never alone. The words from Jesus in John chapter six are true today just as they were when He fed them and spoke to them:
“I am the bread of life [Jesus said]. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.”” (John 6:48–51 ESV)
There is no such thing as running out of Jesus, or of God’s Word and work not being enough for you. Today you feed on His body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Today you eat and drink of the bread of life, the living bread that comes down from heaven. And this food, beloved, this food never grows stale or old. It never runs out. This food will sustain you on the journey, whether the journey is flat or rugged, or even if it appears as though your life journey will be cut short. This food can death destroy, as our hymn puts it.
So come, feast on the living bread. Come and be filled and rest with the ultimate comfort food, the food that lasts forever. Come. All things are now ready.Come. The Table is set. This is your place with fearful Elijah and timid Zaccheaus, with impetulant Peter and with the foolish Twins, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. Come, and be comforted in Him.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.