You Eat What You Are
July 31, 2022 anno Domini
A few weeks ago, in the 19-minute Bible study we heard Jesus say, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”” (Matthew 15:11, ESV) Now, your doctor might disagree with Jesus. When your blood pressure is 180/98 or your triglycerides are 347 he is going to tell you to watch what you put in your mouth. You’re eating too much salt and sugar. He might even say, “If it tastes good spit it out.” You are what you eat, and your health is greatly affected by what goes into your mouth.
Humanly speaking you can change your health drastically by what you choose to eat. You can lower your blood pressure simply by leaving the Morton salt alone. Stay away from Qwik Trip Glazers and your triglycerides will decline. Jesus the Great Physician, has a far more deadly diagnoses for humans. You cannot change who you are by what you do. You are a sinner who sins. No amount of good works or good behavior will make you good. You could watch only G-rated movies (if you could find one). Read books where there is no profanity or perversion. You could even go to the extremes of plucking out your eyes if you lust or chopping off your hand if you covet and you would not cease to sin, because at heart you are a sinner. That’s why you need Jesus, like that crowd that followed Him today. If He doesn’t give you His food you will feint on the way, you will die and be damned to hell.
All your problems did start because of something you ate. By you I mean humans. For a time, Adam was all the humans in the world. Into that first man God gave everything that humans need to live. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. He put him in a garden filled with all the fruit, nuts, grains, and vegetables he needed. Exactly what your doctor would recommend that you eat.
Right in the middle of the garden were two trees – the tree of life, of which a man could eat and live forever, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If Adam ate from that tree, he would be a dead man. Since Adam and Eve were all the humans in all the world what they did you did. That’s why their sin is sometimes called inherited sin. Their sin is your sin. You can blame mom and dad, but it won’t do you any good.
Ever since then man has been hungry for life and eating everything in sight in the hopes of satisfaction. One way in which our nation’s economy is judged is the consumer price index. The index judges how much we are spending on what we are buying. We must buy and consume the necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter, gasoline, but with that we are not content. We aren’t just filling our mouths with food and drink, we try to satisfy our minds with excitement and our hearts with pleasure and our insecurity with possessions. Why are we always consuming? Because we’re eating bread that does not satisfy in the hopes that it will provide a life worth living. It’s like eating Doritos. You can’t eat one. You can eat a whole bag and not get full and then get sick. It’s light beer. It just doesn’t satisfy.
Why are we always consuming, but never full? Life is found in God alone, but we chose to dine with the Devil, and all he serves up is hunger and death.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus says (read 3a). If He sends them away they will faint. If God does not feed you from His Table you will always be hungry and never be full. He doesn’t want that. He wants you back, back where Adam and Eve were – eating from the tree of life and that tree is Jesus.
The crowd had been with Jesus for three days, three days of hearing God’s Word. They had eaten up whatever food they packed in their coolers or had in their backpacks. The last faded M&M was eaten. The dead Dorito in the cup holder was gone.
Jesus is their only hope. He alone provides bread that satisfies, but this parable is more than flour, yeast, and water. Yes, absolutely, this is a real miracle. Mark records the details. They were with him three days. There were seven loaves of bread. There were four thousand people who were filled full. And there were seven baskets of leftovers. That is testimony that Jesus is God. He controls all creation. He can multiply seven loaves into seven hundred loaves and feed 4000 and have seven baskets of leftovers.
But there’s more to this miracle than bread. Jesus has compassion on the crowd. He uses His almighty power not to fill Himself, but to fill the crowd. Jesus is willing to be consumed that they, that you might be full.
I don’t think the numbers of this text are accidental, especially the number 3. The crowd had been with Jesus three days to hear His Word and if He didn’t give them something to eat, they would faint on the way.
The crowd that was with Jesus during His three days in the tomb was much smaller than 4000. It was probably 20 or so. Joseph, Nicodemus, John, Peter, the women, the rest of the 12. And if Jesus did not give them something more, they, and we would all die on the way. Three days after He was laid in the tomb He rose from the dead. Three days after He paid for the sin of the world, He came to life again. He breathed and He talked. He called Mary Magdalene by name, and she saw her Lord and rejoiced. He breathed on the disciples in the upper room and His word of forgiveness was the same breath of life that God breathed into Adam at creation. The dead tree of the cross became the tree of life bearing the fruit of forgiveness and life.
Jesus might reverse the cliché that you are what you eat. He might say, “You eat what you are.” That’s what Saint Paul says in the Epistle – you either are slave of sin or a slave of righteousness. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will devour the delights of the Devil and dine on the his Doritos of death. If you are a slave of righteousness you put away all hurtful things and seek things that are profitable. You feast on forgiving others even as you are forgiven. You speak well of your neighbor because Your Master has spoken you well. Your life isn’t lived by filling your belly. Your life is lived by sacrifice because you are full of Christ.
There were seven baskets of leftovers at the end of this miracle. I don’t think that is an accident either. In Seven days, God made the world, culminating in the creation of humans and It was very good. In seven days, Christ redeemed the world to be good again – from Palm Sunday to the following Sabbath when He rested. On the 8th day He rose declaring you to be what you are through your baptism in His name. You are good, righteous, forgiven, alive. So, this week eat what you are and you will be satisfied and sanctified in the name of Jesus. Amen.