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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bon Appetit

John 6:35, 41-51
James McTyre
Lake Hills Presbyterian Church (USA)
Sunday, August 13, 2006

Quick – what did you eat for lunch yesterday? Do you remember what you had for dinner on Friday night? Did you eat breakfast last week, or did you skip it (once, twice, every day), running out the door to someplace more important than food? More important than nourishing the gift of God that is your temple, your body? I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. Heaven forbid a preacher would ever try to make people feel guilty. I saw a T-shirt on a man at Dollywood. A remarkable shirt. The T-shirt was thin at the top, stretched to the tension limits of cotton-poly blend across the bottom, and too short to cover the hairy bellybutton protruding beneath. And written on the T-shirt was, “I have the body of a god.” And below, in smaller letters, “Unfortunately, it’s Buddha.”

For whatever reasons, we don’t pay much attention to what we eat. We eat in a hurry. We eat standing up. We eat in the car. We eat staring at the TV. We stand over the sink and eat a bag of Girl Scout Thin Mints. We don’t really need the Surgeon General’s studies to tell us about nutritional problems, thank you very much. We’ve got Dr. Phil, and Rachel Ray, and Oprah’s personal trainer, Bob Greene to tell us far more than we’ll ever have time to digest, pun intended. On one hand it’s a nutritional problem. We’ve got more restaurants than ever before in the history of the known universe, and we eat out more than Moses in the wilderness. And I don’t care what the cardiologists say, a sackful of Krystals and a Moon Pie really are good for you. At least, that what the lady at the drive-through told me. On one hand it’s a nutritional problem, and on the other hand it’s a time problem. Nobody has time to do all that washing and grating and mixing and puree-ing, and… oh, it’s exhausting just thinking about it. Swimming in the greasy sea of bad food choices, time stretched thinner than a Dollywood T-shirt – no wonder we’ve got nutritional issues.

Ironically, if you count all the times in the Bible Jesus taught lessons, appeared to the disciples, preached to the sinners – if you count all the critical stories about Jesus, more than half of them were when? – When he was eating. And yet we have all these paintings of Jesus looking skinny. I know, he walked a lot. He had a good trainer. But if you wanted to find Jesus, or hear a good lesson, the best time to catch him was suppertime. Throughout the Gospels, there’s an undeniable connection between the presence of the Lord and food. Just as psychologists tell us families that eat supper together around the dinner table are healthier – no matter what they’re eating – the people who shared suppers with Jesus were undoubtedly spiritually healthier by dessert than when they started the appetizer.

And as they used to say on the commercials for the “Veg-O-Matic,” but wait, there’s more. By the time we get around to the Gospel According to John, Jesus isn’t just imparting wisdom at the supper table. No longer is he only breaking and blessing the bread. By this point in the Fourth Gospel, Jesus is saying that HE’S the bread of life, and whoever eats of this living bread will never hunger again. Once again, Jesus turns the tables. This is crucial for the Gospel According to John. Jesus doesn’t only teach us about God by what he says. Jesus doesn’t only teach us about God by what he does. By this point in the scripture Jesus teaches us about God by who he is. If you want know God, don’t just listen to Jesus. If you want to know God, don’t just copy Jesus’ good deeds – if you want to know God, know Jesus. If you want to experience God, experience Jesus. If you want to nourish your body, mind and spirit with God, nourish yourself with Jesus. He says, “I am… the bread of life.” “I am… the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”


It’s not really all that different from the nutrition of our bodies. Spiritual nutrition is an issue of choice. Spiritual nutrition is an issue of time. With more life choices out there than ever before in the history of the universe, more than ever before we have to weed through all the junk… and choose Jesus. With more stuff on our plates, more to-do’s on our lists than we’ll ever have time to check off, we have to make time… for Jesus. Think about it: If we barely have time to eat, how could we ever expect to have time to nourish our spirits?

Let me challenge you. And the restaurant owners are going to love me for this. In the next pay period, take somebody out to eat. Could be just one person, could be a whole family. Pay for their dinner, if you can. And if you can’t, tell them it’s Dutch Treat and you just want to meet some place and enjoy their presence. It doesn’t have to be some fancy restaurant where you get five different forks and you need a translator to interpret the menu. If that’s your style, enjoy. But make it more than just meeting at Sonic and rolling down the windows to holler from car to car. Take somebody out to eat, who isn’t in your immediate family. Remember what it’s like to sit down, and have a good meal, among good company. Try this not just to discover what new foods you can eat. Try it not just to learn more about the other person, or people. But try it to see what you just might learn about Jesus Christ. Because, remember – if you want to find Jesus, you’ll find him at suppertime. And you won’t usually find him at a table for one. Nourish yourself. In Christ.

In just a few minutes, Jesus is going to invite you to supper. “This is Christ’s table, and our Lord invites all those who trust in him to taste the banquet he has prepared.” Not because he’s the cook. Not because he commands us to do this. But because this is Christ. This is the way life is supposed to be. This is the way heaven is going to be. A place where there is time. A place where there is food. A place where we can slow down and taste, and remember what we’re eating. Instead of a place we drive through on the way to someplace else. This is the place. This is the supper. This is the moment when Jesus Christ becomes as real as we’ll ever know in this world. This is the body; this is the blood. This is life.

Let Jesus take you out. Let Jesus take you out not just for one meal, but for real, lasting nourishment. Let Jesus take you out of your world, out of your self, for a few minutes. And see what you just might learn about him.