Not Joseph’s Son
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Elijah is one of the best known prophets of the Old Testament. He lived during the time of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. They lead the people of Israel into worshipping false gods – the god Baal and the goddess Asherah.
As you can expect, Ahab and Jezebel were not happy that Elijah was saying that they were sinning and that they were leading the people of Israel into the sin of idolatry.
During his ministry, Elijah faced years of isolation as he hid from King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. As we heard from the Old Testament reading, Elijah ran for his life as Jezebel vowed to kill him.
A little latter in chapter nineteen of First Kings, we hear a discouraged Elijah say to God “that he had been trying hard to turn the people of Israel around.” He was discouraged that all his efforts to turn the nation around didn’t seem to make a difference. Elijah was sure that he was the only faithful prophet left who had not been killed.
We might say that Elijah thought that the forces of evil had won – that he and God had lost. You can hear his frustration in today’s reading, in what he said to God, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Nourished and Sustained
Hearing about Elijah and his difficult life, we also hear about the Lord’s presence in his life. No matter where the Lord directed Elijah to go, the Lord provided for his daily bread, the food he needed to nourish and strengthen his body.
The Lord miraculously used ravens to bring bread and meat to Elijah when he was in the desert. He worked through a widow in the town of Zarephath to provide food for Elijah. In today’s reading we hear how an angel brought food to Elijah to sustain him on his journey to Mount Horeb.
As he sent Elijah forth to be his prophet, the Lord also sustained Elijah’s soul. Whenever things looked bad, the Lord was there to encourage Elijah. Elijah was never without the Lord by his side.
When Elijah was sure that every Israelite had turned to worship idols, the Lord assured him that there were seven-thousand believers in Israel who had not bowed down to worship Baal.
The Lord encouraged Elijah by simply telling him that the Lord had work for him to do. Elijah was not to worry about the outcome of his work; he was just to follow the Lord’s direction. The Lord nourished and sustained Elijah’s faith.
We may sometimes feel like we are living the life of Elijah. The Lord has placed us in a certain place with certain people. We have been given certain tasks to perform. We’ve been given an identity, we are called Christians. We are part of the Body of Christ.
People Around Us
Perhaps that’s where our troubles begin. We are called Christians and people all around us have a perception of what that means. They judge us on their perception and not on who Christ called us to be. Even we may not understand fully what we are as Christians. That is why he calls us to continue to study his word.
Many people around us are suspicious of Christians or hostile toward us. They think of Christians as narrow minded and judgmental. If you are surrounded by people who think this way you are going to feel discouraged and alone.
Whenever you are with these people and in these situations you like to run away. If that is not an option then perhaps you try to hide the fact that you are a member of the Body of Christ. Witnessing about Jesus Christ may cost us family members and friends.
The battle may not be with others in your life. The battle may be with you. You are Christian, but each day your sinful nature is battling within you. It is trying to take control of your thoughts, words, and deeds. It’s battling within you to pull you away from faith and trust in Jesus your savior.
The gospel reading shows us people who were offended when Jesus said “that he had come down from heaven to do the work of his Father.” They were offended when Jesus claimed “that everyone who believed in him would be raised on the last day and have eternal life.”
- Our sinful nature wants us to be offended that God thought we needed saving from our sins.
- Our sinful nature wants us to give up our life as a Christian.
- Our sinful nature wants us to chase after the bread of this life, the false gods of this life.Many days your sinful nature and mine win the battle. We find it just so much easier to give in. Jesus came down from heaven and said “Repent.” Each day we need to confess your sins and seek God’s mercy. Nourish and Sustain UsJesus came down from heaven to show us God’s mercy. He came to take away our sins. Jesus came to nourish and sustain us. He came to be with us when we seem to be in the minority and when the world seems to be winning. Jesus came so that even if we are persecuted to the point of death, we shall not die eternally. Jesus said to Martha “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live though he dies;” Jn. 11:25 Jesus came down from heaven to nourish and sustain us spiritually so that we might battle with him against the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. The battle begins by acknowledging our sins and asking for God’s mercy.We are nourished and sustained when we hear that it is God’s will that our sins be forgiven. We are nourished and sustained when we hear that Jesus is not Joseph’s son, but the Son of God who came down from heaven to sacrificed his life so that our sins are forgiven.Jesus calls himself the bread that “comes down from heaven.” We do not go up to heaven to eat this Bread of Life. He descends to us. He bends down to meet us in our humanity, where we are, where we eat, where we sin, here and now.Jesus reaches down to feed us with the true manna of His death and resurrection. He is the Bread of Life who imparts His life to us Jesus came down from heaven and the war is over. Satan and our sinful flesh are only fooling themselves and trying to fool us. In Jesus Christ you have the victory over your sins, your daily failure to do God’s will. Jesus has redeemed you and set you to be free, free to live under God’s grace. Skinny ChristiansThere is nothing sadder than a skinny Christian one who picks and nibbles at the Bread of Life as if he or she were afraid of becoming too fat on the forgiveness of sins. Nothing delights our heavenly Father more than when we daily repent of our sins and receive the forgiveness of sins that comes through faith in Jesus Christ the Bread of Life.Nothing makes our heavenly Father more joyful than when we satisfy our hunger for righteousness through the death and resurrection of the Bread of Life who hung on the cross for us.The Bread of Life comes with an unconditional guarantee and promise to you the eater: “I will raise him up on the Last Day.” Four times Jesus says it in John chapter 6. Four times he promises what no other Bread in this world can deliver – resurrection from the dead. Every other food you eat goes with you to the grave and dies. This Bread of Life goes with you to the grave and raises you to a new life.Jesus promises no quick and easy solutions to the pains and problems connected to this life. Those who eat the Bread of Life are not necessarily spared the troubles of this life. This is no magic Wonder Bread for the hardships and trials of life. But the Bread of life will nourish and sustain you with the promise of forgiveness and life everlasting. One final word, remember that you are not alone. Not only is Christ with you, you are part of the Body of Christ, whose members are also here to strengthen and encourage you with the Good News about Jesus Christ.
- Soli Deo Gloria
- Who are you, you the Christian? You are a sinner, one who in many ways worships false gods. That is not the final word. You are a forgiven and redeemed sinners. You are one for whom the Son of God came down from heaven to feed you with God’s love. In the name of Jesus. Amen