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01.24.2021 Reheated Hope Luke 9:12-17 Sermon Summary

by on January 27, 2021

If you were one of the 5000 men there that day, or a woman or child (who were unaccounted for), you would have heard Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of God and witnessed his healing. You would have shared a meal with this huge crowd and you might have questioned who Jesus was. But you wouldn’t really know until you read about it later in the Gospel of Luke.

We are in the middle of a worship series called “Meals with Jesus.” Jesus gave us a “meal sacrament” which we call the Lord’s Supper. But all meals are sacramental if they remind us about God or even reveal God to us. The “meal sacrament” is Jesus’ way of guaranteeing that we don’t forget this.

God is revealed in the sacraments and this passage from Luke describes a sacramental meal. Luke designs this story of a meal to reveal to us who Jesus is and how God is present to us. It is a sacramental meal.

Before the meal Herod King of the Jews has heard of Jesus. He wonders who he is. Is he Jesus John the Baptist raised from the dead? Is he the prophet Elijah returned? Or could he be another ancient prophet returned?

The crowd that day didn’t know this about Herod, but we the readers do.

After the meal Jesus asks the disciples who people are saying he is. Again we hear speculation that Jesus is John the Baptist, Elijah, or another of the ancient prophets. But then Peter answers: Jesus is the Messiah of God.

The crowd that day didn’t hear this conversation, but we the readers do.

This meal story is sandwiched between the questions about who was Jesus. In Luke, the meal story provides the answer. The meal reveals who Jesus is, the Messiah of God. That revelation makes the meal sacramental.

How does Luke do this? It is characteristic of Luke to rehearse promises from the Older Testament. Remember those Advent scriptures from last month? They often concluded, “Just as God promised to our ancestors . . .”

Some of Luke’s favorite sources are the hopes and dreams of Isaiah. In Isaiah we read about, “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, and of well-aged wines strained clear.” (Isaiah 25:6) This sounds expensive, prohibitive, and exclusive. But Isaiah says, “God will prepare this meal for all people.”

Even more, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,” says Isaiah. “You that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)

Between the questions about Jesus’ identity—between Herod’s puzzlement and Peter’s confession—Luke puts this sacramental meal and reveals that the fulfillment of Isaiah’s hope is found in Jesus. Luke says Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God and healed people. Then he fed the crowd. Isaiah invited his audience, “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:2)

Readers of Luke who are familiar with such patterns in his writing will recognize that this is a sacramental meal story. It reveals God in the presence of the people. It reveals God in the presence of Jesus. God’s presence in our lives is our hope.

This meal like every meal also reminds us of our dependence upon God. We easily forget this in our culture because we rarely go hungry. This is why fasting is so important for our spiritual growth. Fasting reminds us of our fundamental dependence on God.

This meal like every meal also reminds us that food is more than fuel. God could have given us fuel, but we partake of food. We collaborate with the growth and variety of the earth’s gifts and co-create with God the food we eat. Food is a gift from God to us and from us to one another. Food is to be received with gratitude.

Because of the gift-nature of it, food creates relationships. In the meals with Jesus we see his attitude towards all creation. God declared creation good. Jesus reminds us of this. All creation is to be received with gratitude: Not just food, but our bodies, the questions that arise in our minds—all of nature is good when we receive it with gratitude.

Some religious people mistakenly believe that all creation is evil. To them, created things are to be avoided or at best tolerated. Against such thinking 1 Timothy 4:1-4 says, “Some renounce the faith by forbidding marriage and demanding abstinence from foods, but God created these to be received with thanksgiving. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.”

The Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ “meal sacrament,” makes this explicit. He took the bread and the cup and sanctified them by God’s word and by prayer. So do we when we celebrate Communion. This meal reveals Christ’s presence to us. It reveals God’s presence in Christ.

The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, but every meal is sacramental when it reminds us of our dependence on God, of God’s faithfulness, and of our gratitude. Every meal is a reheating of hope—the hope of Isaiah, of the crowd, of Luke, and of the Lord’s Supper.

May our hope be reheated at each of our meals with Jesus this week. Amen.

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