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Choosing to Starve

Choosing to Starve

When Invited to a Banquet

You have been invited to a banquet…weekly. The Table has been prepared. You do not need to bring anything but yourself and your family.

This is no ordinary invitation. This is not an invitation to join some at a fast-food joint but to come and dine with a King and His Son and all His children. This is the feast that feeds you continually. In fact, you may come at any time you want. This is a feast enough to satisfy your deepest hunger and you may come freely. The door is opened to all. Come and eat. Come and drink freely.

Imagine this type of banquet prepared for you all the time. Imagine now, that you are starving, weak and sickly. What would you do? The banquet is there for you to fill you, strengthen you and heal you.

Imagine now that you decide you don’t need that food or drink and you’re okay with starving because, after all, who needs food to live? Who needs a drink to live? Imagine yourself rejecting this and literally dying of starvation and dehydration.

I think we’d all agree that this scenario is hard to imagine; sick, weak and starving people abjectly rejecting a banquet of food and drink that will satisfy, heal and strengthen them. I think we might call them foolish for rejecting such a gift that is free. We might think them arrogant and prideful that they must come to another to live instead of starving. We might question their understanding that here they are starving and there is food enough to satisfy.

Or is this scenario that hard to imagine. Not at all. Many Christians, across the large swath of denominations, reject the banquet in which Jesus lays out for His children food and drink which satisfied and heals, forgive us our sins and strengthens our faith.

They do not attend the Divine Service and they are not fed on the Bread and Wine, the True Body and Blood of our Lord. Granted, most evangelicals reject that Christ is truly present, in with and under the bread and wine, but that doesn’t mean He is not there. Yet, the still reject, willingly, the gifts of God in the Lord’s Supper.

This topic, of not partaking of the Lord’s Supper regularly, came up in our Ladies Bible Study this week and then again in the Adult Bible Study the following evening. In the Ladies' study we were looking at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Where is this righteousness found? In Christ Jesus by grace through faith. So, we are to hunger and thirst. That’s what I was struck with. Here Christ gifts us the most valuable gift ever, salvation, righteousness, and life, and He does it in the Bread/True Body (food) and Wine/True Blood (drink).

This hunger and thirst are, as we learned, in the present tense. This is not a onetime hungering and thirsting. It is supposed to be the way you feel all the time, every day, moment by moment. The question in the study was: Why must this hungering and thirsting for righteousness be continual? Answer: If we are not eating and drinking physically we die. In the same way, if we are not hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of God, and not our own, we can spiritually die.

The concept should be simple: you don’t eat…you die. You don’t drink…you die. However, have you ever applied that to attending the Lord’s Table, feasting on the Lord’s Supper, eating His True Body and drinking His True Blood? In John 6 Jesus says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Yet, we do not understand the simplicity of this is also one of the most important truths.

Then, in the Adult Bible Study we are going through Lutheranism 101: The Lord’s Supper, the Making Connections stated this:

What is true for physical life is true for spiritual life…

You need to eat to maintain your life, your strength and your health for your body. How much more you need to eat for your spiritual life, strength, and health? Have you ever thought of the Lord’s Supper as THAT important? Maybe you did understand this but have forgotten it and left it aside. Perhaps you never heard how important the Lord’s Supper is for the believer. For my evangelical friends and my Lutheran family, I went and reviewed Luther’s Small Catechism and some of the main points made there to hopefully encourage you to attend the Divine Service (where Christ comes and serves you with His True Body and True Blood) to bring you life, strengthen you, heal you and forgive you of your sins.

Profound Wonder and Unexplainable Mystery

Jesus tells us “This is my body…This is my blood” and that it truly is His Body and Blood is nothing to take lightly. Honestly, this is, as Luther writes, an Unexplainable Mystery” but so is the fact that all this creation came into being simply by God saying “Let it be…and it was.” So, when Jesus says, “this is” we should simply believe it. We’ll never be able to figure out God…and that’s okay because what is necessary to life and salvation are plainly revealed in the Word of God. Let’s look at some texts on the Lord’s Supper:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 ESV

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[b] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 ESV

So, if we read the Word plainly we see that the Bread and Wine are the True Body and Blood of our Lord. As stated in the Catechism, this is a profound wonder and unexplainable mystery. In this Jesus gives us Himself. Really and truly, Jesus is there to serve you of Himself. The King is inviting you to partake of a meal He prepared which will give you all the wondrous gifts we need. “The Lutheran Church simply accepts what Christ says, that the consecrated bread and wine are His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.[1]

Lutherans believe Jesus spoke plainly, so plainly that it is quite simply plain and simple because it was the last supper. Think about this: when someone is dying and they give their deathbed testimony the authorities receive that as true and binding. They don’t go and look for hidden meanings in symbolism or pictures, monuments or memorials. Instead, they take the words of that final testimony to mean what those words state. In the same way, when approaching God’s Word, where it is plainly written, we must not play semantics with God’s Word. What is plain is plain and the Lord’s institution, or rather his words of institution, are plain and simple. I’m not saying it is simple to understand. However, what the church has said is that what Jesus said, his words, mean what they say.[2]


A Great Need

We are sinners. That is why we are in such great need. We are dead in sin and trespasses and until the gift of salvation is given to us we are in quite the predicament.

When that gift of saving faith is given, through the Means of Grace (preaching of the Word and the Waters of Baptism) we are still sinners though now also saints. However, we still have a great need because we continue to sin. The Devil will come at us and try to destroy us. His arrows are fiery and fierce and manage to find the targets in each of us. So, our need is still great. What is that need? Nothing less than the forgiveness of our sins over and over again.

That forgiveness won for us through Jesus Christ on the Cross, is delivered to us now in the Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. That need for our sins to be forgiven only proves that we are weak, sickly and starving. This is why, if you are truly alive in Christ, you’re going to want to feast on this banquet. As Luther said if you’re not hungering and thirsting for the Lord’s Supper, better check to see if you’re dead. So, we all have a great need. We are all beggars who hunger and thirst for the True Meal that satisfies.

A Great Treasure

What is this great treasure? Nothing less than the forgiveness of sins. That is our need and that is exactly what is supplied in the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper. This is what God has given to us to satisfy us, to strengthen us and to heal us. This is what satisfies when we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness for it is that righteousness given to us in these elements.

This great treasure gives us life with God. We need this because we are assaulted constantly by the Devil, the world and ourselves (the Bible calls that our flesh). You would not think of heading into a battle on an empty stomach and yet so many Christians go into the new week without having been fed on the True Body and Blood of Christ. That’s just crazy. You wouldn’t compete on an empty stomach. You wouldn’t go into the new day without fueling up your physical body and yet, you reject the food your spiritual life must have.

For you!!!

The meal is FOR YOU! It is for the forgiveness of your sins. This is the Bread and Wine for you for the forgiveness of your sins. It is not a picture of what Jesus did or simply a symbol it is the very Body and Blood of our Lord given for you. I wrote in The Accidental Lutheran:

What are the benefits of taking the Lord’s Supper? Luther answers that his small catechism on part six on the sacrament of the altar he says that it is shown us in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” This means that in the sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words for where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.[3]

Now, imagine again rejecting the invitation to come to eat and drink until you are satisfied. Imagine purposely deciding to starve and dehydrate yourself to death. That is what you are doing if you are not coming to the Divine Service where Christ is present with you to serve you with forgiveness of sins, give you life with God and salvation everlasting. Rejecting the gifts, the great treasure God has given because we have such a great need is neither wise nor safe. These gifts are for you in order that your faith is strengthened, your sins forgiven and you are healed.

Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth adored...

Come and Dine the Master calls to all who would believe to have your hunger and thirst satisfied.

[1] Martin Luther, Luther's Small Catechism, with Explanation (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2017), 330.

[2] Nancy A. Almodovar, The Accidental Lutheran (Oregon: Resource Publications, 2019), 32.

[3] Almodovar, The Accidental Lutheran, 34.

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