“Eating With God”
Text: Exodus 24:3-11; John 6:1-15; Ephesians 4:1-8
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The last verse that we heard
from the Old Testament reading is a remarkable verse – one that is,
unfortunately, easily overlooked. It
speaks of God with His people as they eat and drink in His presence. He is not just a God who is incredibly large
and far away, but also a God who is near His people and intimate with
them. . . . And that’s remarkable because you could
hardly blame God if He didn’t do this; if He were to simply give up on
them. Because His
people had given Him nothing but heartache and pain and rebellion from the very
beginning. Or even if we don’t go
back to the very beginning, but simply consider what
God put up with in the few chapters before our reading from Exodus, it would be
enough to vindicate God for giving up on His people. For He had just rescued His
people from their slavery in
And yet, there He is! In our reading today, making a covenant with His people. There with them, in spite of all their dissatisfaction and rebellion. There He is with them as they eat and drink, in the bond of a fellowship meal. . . . And what makes that even more remarkable is that in our reading, the stage is set for the people to let God down again! For in establishing this covenant, the people twice respond with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do. . . . We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” And you know what? No they won’t! And God knows they won’t – He’s not that naïve! And it won’t take them long not to! In fact, in just a few weeks, they’re going to be bowing down to a golden calf! . . . You couldn’t blame God if He were to give up on these stiff-necked people!
And yet, there He is! “But God did not raise His hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.” God with His people in love and forgiveness.
Now fast-forward to the Gospel
And yet, there He is! In our Gospel reading, sitting down to eat and drink with over 5,000 people, in the bond of a fellowship meal. . . . And what makes that even more remarkable is that in our reading, we see that the people still don’t get it. The people had followed Him not because of His teaching, but because “they saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick.” After the miracle, and after they had all received their fill, they want to make Jesus their earthly king – by force, if necessary. Even Jesus’ disciples aren’t really seeing and understanding what is going on, as they stumble and hesitate when Jesus asks them, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” . . . You couldn’t blame God if He were to give up on these slow, stiff-necked people.
And yet, there He is! Even though the people didn’t realize it, “they saw God, and they ate and drank.” God is with His people in love and forgiveness.
Now let’s fast-forward in time
yet again, to
And so at this altar, “you see God, and you eat and drink.” He is not just a God who is incredibly large and far away, but also a God who is near and intimate with you, His people. God is here, with His people, in love and forgiveness.
And that’s remarkable, because
again, you could hardly blame God if He didn’t do this; if He didn’t come here to feed us with
the body and blood of His Son Jesus Christ in the bond of this fellowship
meal; if He were to simply give up on
us. Because aren’t we just like the
others? Aren’t we just like God’s people
And don’t we also act like the
people on the shores of the
And yet, here He is! With us! Sunday after Sunday, not rejecting us, not holding our sins and weaknesses and rebellion against us. But coming to be with us, for us to eat and drink with Him. To eat and drink in His presence, to eat and drink the very body and blood of our Lord, His Son Jesus Christ, the same body and blood that hung on the cross for your sins and rebellion, to receive your punishment in your place. To give us, personally, His love and forgiveness. The one, same, God and Father of us all is here with us too. And “we see God, and eat and drink!”
And that’s remarkable! That even though we constantly fail Him, our God and Saviour remains faithful to us. That even though we show ourselves to be no different than God’s people at Mt. Sinai or in Galilee, sinners through and through, that God still wants us as His own. That even though we are most unworthy, God has come to be with us, to eat and drink with us, and to remove the guilt of our sin and make us worthy; make us His children, and heirs of eternal life. . . . And even though we may sometimes feel that God should give up on us, its good to know that He doesn’t feel that way! In His love and forgiveness for you He will never give up on, and never stop providing here for you. So that you know that He is here, always here, for you. Not to raise his hand against you, but to feed you, and eat and drink with you!
But now we need to
fast-forward in time once more, to our future. And actually, its
not just our future, but what we are beginning to experience even now. For as you will hear again in just a little
bit, this banquet table of the Lord doesn’t include only us here, but also “the angels and archangels and all the
company of Heaven!” For even though
we are in no way worthy, here we receive a seat around our Saviour’s Heavenly banquet table, which we will
continue to enjoy into eternity. Here
and now we are receiving a foretaste
of the feast to come;
but there, forever, we will see God – not hidden – but in
all of His glory, and eat and drink. All
of us! Those God ate and drank with in
the Old Testament, and by the shores of
And if you think 5,000 was a lot to feed, wait till you finally see the crowd around this table!
In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.