02 August 2008

Not By Bread Alone

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word the proceeds from the mouth of God.

Here, then, is the priority. Here is what you need: God's Word and the preaching of it.

Whatever your hunger, whatever your sickness, whatever your poverty, weakness or want, it is the Word of God in Christ that feeds you, heals you, and gives you life.

It is freely given to be freely received at no cost. You cannot work for it. You cannot earn it or buy it. Just listen. Hear and receive. Do not allow anything to stand in your way or detain you from hearing the Word.

It is by this Word that is preached to you that Jesus gives you life. You do not live otherwise. It is with divine compassion that He speaks to you and serves you in this way. Listen, and live.

It is the same Word of God in Christ that your neighbor also needs, in order that he may live. So, you, give him something to eat. What you have heard, speak. What you have received, share.

In your vocation as a child of God, baptized into Christ and fed with that living Bread from heaven, He has called you to love and serve your neighbor. In your particular vocations as spouse, parent, child, sibling, He has placed you in special relationship to particular neighbors, whom you are given to serve and care for with and according to His Word. Above and beyond all of their temporal bodily needs, what they need most is the Word of God.

You fathers, especially, care for your wife and children by speaking the Word of God to them, the Law and the Gospel, all centered in Christ Jesus. If you aren't serving your family with the Word of God, then, no matter how much money you make or have, no matter how well-fed and well-clothed your household may be, you're starving them to death and killing them forever.

For God's sake, give them something to eat. Do not suppose that the care and provision of their mortal flesh is of such concern as the life-giving Word of Christ.

That's not to say that you should neglect the duties and responsibilities of your office and stations in life. It is rather to point out that your number one duty and chief responsibility, within your own vocation, is to confess the Word of God (to say what God says) and to pray, praise and give thanks in Jesus' name.

And, along with that, fulfill all of the other duties and responsibilities of your office and station by faith in that Word of the Lord (in love).

Do not worry about what you will eat or drink, nor be anxious about clothing for your body. Your Father knows you need those things for the life that He has given you for the here and now on earth, and in love and compassion for you, He provides them. He feeds you, clothes you and heals you, for Jesus' sake. It is a small thing for Him to do so, in comparison to that which He does and gives in Christ Himself, who in compassion went to the Cross for you.

It is a matter of faith, not of sight. Do not look at what you have or can do. Do not be daunted by the task of providing for yourself and your family, and for your neighbor's needs, as well. Simply do what the Lord has given you to do, and trust that He will provide all that is needed.

But what if you go hungry? What if you are starving to death? What if you do find yourself out on the street with little or nothing to wear? What if you are sick and dying? What if?

Look not to yourself, but to Christ. And looking to Christ, look also to your neighbor in love, and do what you are given to do. If you spend yourself in love and die in the line of duty, what have you lost? Nothing. You shall still live. But if you turn away from Christ and your neighbor and seek to feed and clothe yourself, to make a life for yourself, then you shall die and lose everything.

It is the Lord, in His tender compassion, who feeds you and clothes you, and helps you and heals you.

But He has called you to a better life than this, and He has done so by the way and means of His own Cross. Let His Cross and His compassion for you there be your teacher and your hope in life and death.

What He did for the people then, and what He does for you so faithfully and well, it is all at His own expense, having denied Himself the same comfort and benefit with which He serves you. He has gone hungry and thirsty, that He might feed you and quench your thirst. He has gone homeless, that He might shelter you; naked, that He might clothe you. He has borne all your griefs and sorrows, all your sickness, suffering and death, that He might heal you and give you life forever.

You shall not live by bread alone, but by that Word of God in Christ, the Word-made-Flesh, who speaks to you in love and gives Himself to you as Bread for both your body and soul. He is the Rock who has opened Himself up to pour out water and blood to quench your thirst and cleanse your spirit and give you life, even in the desert.

He does it now, as then, by the hand of His disciples, but He is the One who acts, who speaks: He takes the bread, He blesses and breaks, and He gives it to you: Take, eat, be satisifed, and live.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

sarahlaughed said...

Once again, Thanks Pastor for preaching the Gospel that we need.