The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat
13th Sunday after Pentecost
The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat
Text: John 6:51-58
I have a guilty pleasure to confess. I like chocolate. No, I love chocolate. Kit-Kat, Snickers, Reese’s Pieces, Baby Ruth, Three Musketeers. It doesn’t matter. I’ll eat them all. I find it ironic how they produce those little “fun size” candy bars, but there’s nothing fun about them. The big ones are the fun size candy bars! And I don’t eat M&Ms one at a time. No, I take the bag and pour a pile in my hand to eat them all in one gulp. Chocolate bars. Oreos. Chocolate cake. You name it. As long as it doesn’t have coconut wit it, I’ll love it and I’ll eat it.
That’s not the only guilty pleasure I have. I also love potato chips. Barbeque chips. Sour Cream ‘N’ Onion chips. Especially Doritos. I love chips. My family of four can easily slam an entire bag of chips in a few minutes on a Saturday night.
I’m also from Wisconsin. So I love cheese. I love cheese curds. I love deep fried cheese curds. At the Wisconsin State Fair they deep fry everything—cheese, pickles, steak, Twinkies, Oreos. And yes, I love it all.
Mmmmm. Junk food. There’s nothing like it. It’s so delicious. It melts in the mouth. It’s comfort food. But there is one big problem. Junk food is really, really bad for you! It clogs your arteries. It throws off your blood sugar. It gives you the bad kind of energy. It sits and rots in your stomach. It makes you gain lots of weight and makes you very unhealthy. Junk food tastes so good but yet it is so bad.
Eating junk food even once isn’t very good for you. Maybe one time doesn’t seem that bad. But suddenly you want it again and again. Then you eat more junk food and more junk food. Suddenly you’ve become very unhealthy. And if you eat enough junk food or only junk food, eventually it will lead to death.
There’s also junk food in this life that doesn’t just taste good, but it feels good, too. It feels good to indulge in the occasional bad word at times. You have bottled up anger and frustration and finally—BLAM—a swear word seems appropriate for the situation. And it feels so good to get it out!
It feels good to indulge in what you see and hear. You shouldn’t be seeing that movie. You shouldn’t be on that website. You shouldn’t be reading that book. You shouldn’t be listening to music with those kinds of words. But it feels so good to indulge!
It feels good to indulge in laziness. Skipping out on what’s important, not taking time to help others, ignoring opportunities for being loving. These are the easy way out. But to sleep in, to be rude, to live in my own little bubble and not care about anyone else—sometimes it feels so good!
Those aren’t the only guilty pleasures. There are more. There are other foods that we love to indulge in. They don’t lead to life-long or eternal health, but they just taste so good at the time.
We crave the success of our children. We want them to succeed and be smart and be happy. It doesn’t matter the cost or the time commitment. Parents will spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on leagues and traveling teams and private coaching. It doesn’t matter if we spend our life savings or skip everything spiritual that is important. We hold out the hope that maybe, just maybe, we might have that one in a million child like LeBron James or Gabby Douglas who will be great and win gold for the United States.
And we love to indulge in things. A nicer car here. An iPod there. A new couch. A bigger TV. We complain about not having money. We struggle to pay bills. We don’t have much to give to God or to charity. But somehow there’s plenty of money when we want to go on vacation or go to Disney World or spend $200 on a Minnie Mouse birthday party. But oh, it just tastes so good at the time!
For the last month we have been hearing one continuous story from John chapter 6. Jesus miraculously fed over 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and some fish. The next day the people sailed all the way across the Sea of Galilee until they found him again. They wanted more instant gratification from Jesus—more miracles, more food, more healings.
When they finally found Jesus he counseled them not to eat food that spoils and rots and perishes. That’s junk food. Instead he counseled them to eat bread that lasts. That’s when Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” But they didn’t get it. So Jesus continued, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
It wasn’t that difficult of a concept. Jesus was using a metaphor. Jesus called himself bread, so whoever ate of this bread would have life. He was talking about believing in him. Yet they still didn’t get it. “Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat.’” They were so focused on the thought of filling their stomachs and eating something that they started to argue about how one could eat Jesus’ flesh. They were so consumed with the physical that they didn’t understand Jesus mean something spiritual.
Two thousand years later, and human beings are still doing the same thing. The concept is very simple. Eat healthy food. Eat food that is good for you. Eat food that lasts. Eat food that endures. Eat the Bread of Life.
It’s so simple, yet we struggle so much! Like a pregnant woman craving peanut butter, like the chocolate lover craving M&Ms, like the Wisconsinite craving deep fried cheese curds—we crave junk food. We crave indulgent behavior. We crave things that benefit “me.” We crave possessions and money.
But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t eat salad for lunch every day but have sausage, bacon, and eggs for every breakfast, Snickers for every snack, and McDonald’s for every supper. Sure, you have a little health food in there, but all the other junk food will eventually lead to death.
In the same way, the more we indulge in the junk foods of sinful actions and sinful choices, the more spiritually unhealthy we become. Sure, you may get a little church time in now and then. Sure, you might read the Bible once in a while. But eventually, if you indulge in only sinful junk food, it can lead to death. “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’” Without eating, or believing in, the Son of Man, you will have an unhappy life here and no life in heaven.
There’s a show on TV that we enjoy in my house called The Best Thing I Ever Ate. On this show they interview top chefs from the Food Network who describe the best foods they have ever had. Last year I was in New York and took advantage of the opportunity to stop at Choice Market in Brooklyn. I had to try the best BLT Ted Allen ever ate. And let me tell you, this rosemary Mayo BLT with fresh lettuce and tomato on fine artisan bread was in fact the best BLT I ever ate. Wonderbread and Publix bacon and lettuce doesn’t even come close.
Sometimes we don’t even realize how much better other food can be. We think we like junk food because we maybe grew up eating chicken nuggets, mac ‘n’ cheese, and happy meals. But when you eat fresh fruits and veggies and whole grain breads, suddenly you realize how good healthy food can be. Not only is it delicious, but it is good for you too!
Let me tell you about something else delicious. It isn’t junk food. It doesn’t give you a sugar rush that leads to the comatose after-affect. It doesn’t clog your arteries. It doesn’t spoil. It doesn’t fade. No this is health food—delicious health food. This is food that lasts and endures. This is food that makes you healthier. This is food that will extend your life—to eternity even. This is The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” The most divine restaurant in all the world has the most simple menu with only one item on it: Bread. It is bread that came down from heaven to live among sinful humans. It is bread that was given to death to bring life to the world. Whoever eats this bread will have life. Verse 54: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Whoever eats the bread of life will be raised by Jesus and will live forever.
This isn’t some mythical bread or made up promise. This is real and true. Verse 55: “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” Jesus isn’t talking about cannibalism and literally eating body and blood. He also isn’t talking about the Lord’s Supper (He hadn’t even instituted it yet). He’s talking about believing in him. Taking Jesus in completely through faith is something real and true for us to do. We take him in by faith so completely that’s like we are consuming him. So he says in verse 56, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
When we sinful people consume ourselves with sinful things, it seems so tasty. Sinners don’t know anything but sin, so we consume things that give instant gratification—things that make us feel good. Hot dogs and chicken nuggets and McDonald’s French fries give instant gratification, but in the long run they aren’t so good for you. Neither are sinful choices and actions.
But then we get a taste of some quality health food, and suddenly everything is different. We never knew before how delicious this food could be! Nothing is as sweet as Jesus’ words of forgiveness. Nothing is as filling and tasty as the good news of salvation. Nothing is as succulent and exquisite as the sure hope of eternal life.
Once we taste the Bread of Life, we realize the foolishness of junk food. Once we taste the Bread of Life, we realize how bad for us junk food is. Once we taste the Bread of Life, we realize it is The Best Meal We’ll Ever Eat. Nothing lasts so long, nothing is as healthy, nothing tastes as good as Jesus, the Bread of Life.
The few times I’ve been to New York I’ve also taken advantage of eating at some of the nicer restaurants in town. I have to say that my favorite might be The National, a restaurant owned and operated by iron chef Geoffrey Zakarian. I’ve been there twice so far, and I would love to go back again. Once you have food that is high quality and prepared carefully and cooked to perfection, you never want to have regular food ever again. Every bite, ever morsel, makes you want to come back to get more.
That’s the way it is with Jesus. We fill our spiritual stomachs with so much junk. From sinful thoughts to sinful actions to sinful words; from a love of money to the love of this world to the love of ourselves—it all seems tasty at the moment. But once you get a taste of the Bread of Life, you want another bite. Then you eat a little more, and you realize this Bread is better than anything you’ve ever had. So you come back again for another meal. Soon you find out that this Bread is actually good for you. It’s healthy. It gives eternal life.
Wow! Bread that is healthy and delicious! Now you really want more. You want some all the time. So you come back to worship every week, starving to feast on more. With mouth drooling and dripping, you pop out of bed in the morning to crack open the Word and devour some more. You run to Bible study ready to stuff your face with the Bread that gives life. The more you eat, the more you want it. The more you eat, the more you love it. Yes, this is Jesus, the Bread of Life—The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat.
Posted on August 26, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Bread of Life, Church, Geoffrey Zakarian, I AM Statements, I Am the Bread of Life, Junk Food, New York City, Sermons, Spiritual Food, Ted Allen, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The National. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.