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VisionÖ Three Meals

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(8/4) So, today weíre continuing in our series Vision. And we have been exploring what the church is, why it exists, and what it means for us today. This is important because we want you to be able to "Take hold of your horizon"Ö to know what it means to be the churchÖ to have a vision for the futureÖ and to grasp how that applies to us today. So I hope in this sermon series, that you are increasing Godís vision for your life, youíre sharing it, and youíre seeing it come alive in your lives.

And so today as we continue in Part 6 of our series weíre going to look at "3 Meals" recorded in the Bible, because as we look at the Bible, there are a lot of meals, feasts, and festivals. A lot of eating gets done in the Bible. Thatís one of the reasons I believe in eating together as the Church as the people of God, because over, and over, and over in the Bible youíre going to see meals eaten. Some are eaten with God; some are eaten without God.

This morning as we examine the Scriptures weíre going to look at three meals, a series of meals eaten with or without God. These three meals climax with the Christian meal of Communion, also called the Lordís Supper, the Lordís Table, or the Eucharist depending upon your tradition and heritage. But itís about a meal being eaten with God and his people. You see when we eat, weíre to eat as Christians, as friends of the Lord, friends with those who know the Lord, and friends who weíre inviting to get to know the Lord Jesus.

Letís turn to the Word of God and begin our journey of "3 Meals" in the book of Genesis. We will begin in Genesis chapter 2:25Ö "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."

3:1 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." NIV

Now hereís what I want you to do: think with me about the best meal youíve ever hadÖ but not too long, because I donít want to lose you. You know you gotta come back, you gotta focus if youíre catch the visionÖ take hold of your horizonÖ and hear the rest of the message, but just think about it for a moment.

Some of you your eyes are like glazing over, your salivatingÖ but seriously I went on a pilgrimage of sorts last night. You know itís sad but the Golden Corral in Waynesboro closed downÖ so I packed my family up and we went on a pilgrimage to FrederickÖ yes we went down to the Golden Corral. The food was great but the atmosphere was a lot less than desirable.

You know my wife Dana is an amazing cook. I donít even like to waste the gas to go to restaurants anymore because the food at my house is better. Itís better. But you know we go out so she gets a break right? So anyway sitting down at the table with my family itís a big deal. You know there is seven of us plus guests. And so sometimes, we get to go out for a big meal and try to create a great memory around a meal. Kind of like the time we went to the Cracker Barrel and my daughter Megan made some sort of comment, mispronouncing the name, and we were like no good after that. You know we were out in the parking lot just laughing like crazy.

Whatís your best meal memory?

Maybe that place with the rat like Chuck E Cheese, or maybe you had company, a holiday meal, you know your grandmaís house, your momís house? Where was it?

Most important, for the best meal ever, is who you eat it with. Family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, maybe it was the first date or when that friendship started.

Whatís your best meal ever? And hereís why I want you to emotionally connect with this. Because two things happen when we have a meal. Number one, weíre enjoying our friends or family, and number two, weíre welcoming people to become our friends. Right? This is why the Bible talks about fellowship. Thatís where Godís people eat meals and do life together. The Bible sometimes calls it hospitality.

So, when we eat meals, what weíre really doing is making friends, and so the first meal we just read about is a meal eaten without God. In Genesis chapter three it records a meal in a garden.

#1 Ė In a Garden.

Most of you are likely familiar with the context of the story. God creates the first humans, Adam and Eve, in his image and likeness. He puts them in this perfect, amazing garden. Now some of you not only love good meals, but you love to cook, and the ideal situation would be your own organic, fantastic garden right? Thatís where he puts them. He puts them in a garden. That means it has all of the fruits, the vegetables, and the herbs. Everything you could imagine for just feasting and celebration.

And what God tells them is, "You can eat anything you want in my garden, with one exception, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Donít eat from that tree. Donít eat that fruit." Thatís what God says. So God created the world, he creates life, he gives Adam and Eve tons of freedom with one thing that was forbidden.

And what happens is Eve has this conversation with Satan. Heís that "ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan" in Revelation chapters 12:9 & 20:2. Heís the enemy and Revelation 20 says that this serpent, who comes to have a conversation with her, itís Satan. Itís the enemy of God. Itís a rebellious angel. And what he invites her to do is to eat a meal with him, to partake of this forbidden fruit. And the Bible says that Adam, her husband, was a passive coward. He was there with her, he was aware of the whole thing, and together they took the forbidden fruit.

As a result, they received a sin nature. God came searching for them; they hid from one another and God. They blamed each other. God had to clothe their nakedness. They were kicked out of the garden, they were separated from eternal life, and they experienced death. And by the next chapter, their two sons are fighting and one kills the other.

Today you and I have inherited a sin nature from Adam. Romans chapter 5:12 says, "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men". Because of their rebellion we all die. Now maybe that seems harsh; that eating a piece of fruit would result in that? You know, so you took the wrong thing out of the fridge and now every human being in the history of the world has a sin nature, is hell-bound, and dies?

But here is an important note. Itís not just about eating a meal, itís about picking a friend. What Adam and Eve did was they chose not to be friends with God. And in the same way, we choose to be friends with Satan. We choose to disobey God and obey Satan. We push God out of our lives and when we do weíre inviting Satan in. We donít just eat meals, our lives are worship, and sometimes eating is worshiping. Thatís why Paul says in Philippians 3:18-19, "I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame."

Eating is a form of worshiping, and when we eat a meal, weíre not just choosing a food, weíre picking a relationship. Thatís why we pray before our meals. "Lord Jesus, thank you. We welcome you. We invite you to the table." Eating is a very sacred thing. Itís a worshipful thing and I love it. I gotta be careful with thatÖ

And so what happens in Genesis 3 is that a meal is eaten without God. A friendship is forged in rebellion against God and then the promise is made that Jesus will come, heíll make things better, and heíll make all things new. Then Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden, theyíre separated from the tree of life, so they wouldnít have to live forever in sin, forever separated from God. So, it was an act of grace that God kicked them out.

Well, this family grew to be the nation of Israel, the story continues, and from one of the descendants, Abraham, comes a nation called Israel. And the nation of Israel, was experiencing a famine. Again a lot of the Bible centers around this idea and theme of meals, feasting, and eating. So a famine hit and there was no food, so Godís people took refuge in Egypt.

There they were for about 440 years, and there was a series of pharaohs... kings that are worshiped as gods. Some of the pharaohs were kind to Godís people, some were cruel. Well, it culminated with a most cruel pharaoh. He was abusive and harsh to Godís people, he mistreated them, he abused them. He did not want them to worship their God, he wanted them to worship him as God.

#2 - In a Foreign Land

And so that brings us to meal number two, the Passover. We read of this in the next book of the Bible, in Exodus 12. For the sake of time, let me give you a summary.

What happened was God raised up a guy named Moses to confront this king named Pharaoh, and so the Lord would tell Moses him, "Go to the Pharaoh and tell him this," and what we see over, and over, and over is that God is very gracious to the Pharaoh.

Repeatedly, the Pharaoh says, "No, I will not release Godís people from slavery and bondage. Theyíre mine and not his." And every time God sends Moses promising a plagues. "Let them go or the riverís going to turn to blood. Let them go or youíre going to have a serious bug problem. Let them go or thereís going to be some sort of consequence."

Over, and over, and over, God tells Moses, "Okay, Iím upping the consequences." "Itís gonna get worse" and every single time, Pharaoh says no and Egypt suffers under the judgment from God. Finally it ends with the final plague. "If you donít let Godís people go, death will come to every home in Egypt, and the firstborn son in every household will die." But the Pharaoh hardens his heart. Godís being so patient, so gracious, yet the Pharaoh is being so stubborn, so hard-hearted.

Godís Word comes to pass. Death comes to Egypt. It says you could hear the mourning in the nation. Imagine tomorrowóalright, Iím a firstborn son. My son Matt is a firstborn son. Some of you are firstborn sons and you have firstborn sons. Imagine tomorrow we wake up and every firstborn son in our nation is dead. Itís a massive day of national mourning. The funeral parlors canít handle the body count. They canít dig enough holes to get rid of the sons, because the wage for sin is death, and thereís one exception. Through Moses, God allows a provision that life would be spared, but it requires faith.

And sometimes in the Bible, faith is an inward conviction, sometimes itís an outward action. Sometimes you can tell who has faith by what they do. So, what happens in the Exodus, God says, "Demonstrate your faith in me by taking a lamb without defects, spot, or blemish, and this lamb is going to be a substitute, because the wage for sin is death. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. And every family needs to gather, and in faith, slaughter that innocent, clean animal, take the blood, go outside, and literally paint the entryway to the home, showing, ĎWe trust in the God of the Bible. We believe that sin results in death, and we know that apart from the grace of God, we too shall suffer just condemnation.í"

So God in his grace has given a way and I want you to hear this: there was a way for them to escape the wrath of God, as there is a way for you to escape the wrath of God.

So, in the homes that had faith as demonstrated with the act of applying the blood shed by a sinless substitute, Godís wrath would literally pass over. Thatís where we get the name Passover. Death didnít come. Life came. There wasnít mourning. There was rejoicing. There wasnít a funeral. There was a party. And from that time on, every year, Godís people celebrated the feast of Passover. So every year, for over one thousand years Godís people would gather for Passover. Itís a big meal and theyíre saying, "Our God saved us by substitution, by the shedding of blood, and our faith in a slaughtered lamb.

And then comes Jesus. You ready for this? Jesus shows up, heís beginning his public ministry. His cousin John looks at Jesus. Hereís what he says, in John 1:29: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Early on in Jesusí ministry, itís publicly declared: "There he is! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

Hereís the true Passover. The everlasting substitute. No sin. Heís going to die in our place. Heís going to shed his blood. Through faith in him, the wrath of God will pass over us. Without spot or blemish, without sin or defect, Jesus goes to the cross, substitutes himself, dies in our place for our sins. Heís our Passover Lamb. Heís the fulfillment of over one thousand years of meals.

Now, Jesus comes, he lives his sinless life. Jesus fulfills everything that was promised, prophesied, predicted in the Old Testament regarding him. Heís preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons, and then it comes time for the Passover. Jesus, obeying the Scriptures, is going to celebrate Passover and that leads us to meal number three.

#3 Ė In an Upper Room

Reading from Matthew 26:26 says, "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

Now as they were what? They were eating. Itís a meal. So hereís Jesus, as God, eating a meal with his disciples. "Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ĎTake, eat; this is my body.í"

Okay, now, you and I, reading this, because weíre not Jewish, because weíve not been celebrating Passover our whole lives, most of us donít grasp the immensity of what Jesus is saying here. But what Jesus is doing here is changing over one thousand years of history. No one ever said this. This was altogether new. In the history of Godís people, no one everÖ you just donít say this at Passover! But Jesus did.

And he was revisiting this phrase in Johnís Gospel, "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him" (John 6:55-56).

And hereís what heís saying: "Iím God. Iím the fulfillment of prophecy. The whole Old Testamentís about me. Passoverís about me. Everybody whoís gathering in all their homes across the nation today, and theyíre all celebrating, itís about me and Iím here."

He takes the bread and he says, "This is my body." Hereís what I want you to remember. Every time you have a piece of bread, remember Jesusí body, broken for me. Jesusí body broken for me. He went to the cross, substituted himself. He suffered. God became a man, suffered physically in his body for me. Thatís what Jesus is saying.

No one ever said that. You werenít supposed to say that. But now God comes and God fulfills Passover. Do see the significance of this?

The story continues in Matthew 26:27-28, "Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Hereís the bottom line. Weíre sinners. Weíre all like Pharaoh, hard-hearted, want to be our own God, disagree, let me do what I want, donít impose on my life, this is my perspective, my values, my kingdom, Iím in charge. And Jesus comes, says, "No, youíre a sinner. You got a hard heart and you need a new heart. You need your sins forgiven."

Jesus says: "Iím God, I forgive sin. The Old Testamentís about me, Passoverís about me, the breadís about me, the grape juice is about me. Broken body, shed blood. I am the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

So, when we take Communion, itís about who? Itís Jesus! When he says, "This is my body and this is my blood." We believe this is to be interpreted figuratively and not literally like the folks in John 6:52 protested, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Iíll give you some other examples. Jesus says, "Iím the vine. Youíre the branches" (John 15:5). Now does Jesus have leaves? If you looked at him, would he have a rich vibrant foliage? No, because thatís a figure of speech, right? A great one too!

Jesus also said, "I am the gate" (John 10:9). Now if you lifted up his robe, do you think you might see hinges? No, there are no hinges. Heís hinge-free. So, when Jesus says, "This is my body. This is my blood," itís a figure of speech.

When Jesus says, in John 6:57, "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."

To eat living bread means to accept Christ into our lives and become united with him through baptism and communion. He was saying that his life has to become our ownÖ that weíre united with him by believing in the sufficiency of his sacrifice, his death and resurrection and by devoting ourselves to living in dependence on the Holy Spirit. So when we celebrateÖ when we partake of Communion, as Jesus says, "In remembrance of me," itís not literally Jesusí body and blood, but he is present, not in the elements, but in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

When Godís people are filled with the Holy Spirit and they gather as Godís familyÖ when Jesus is honored, and remembered, and celebrated, and sin is repented of, and the cross of Jesus Christ is adored, the Holy Spirit is really present with Godís people, and itís a sacred moment of unity for the family of God. Thatís what we believe.

Today, the Lord Jesus gives you an invitation. He says, "Turn from your sin, trust in me. I invite you to be my friend. I invite you to eat with me. I invite you to rise with me and my people. I invite you to be seated at my table, to feast with me, to be loved by me forever. I invite you to be forgiven. I invite you to be made new. I invite you to be made clean. I invite you to wear white. Blessed are you who are invited."

Youíre all invited to the Lord Jesus, but like every invitation, you have to respond. You have to turn from sin and trust in him by faith, that it is his blood that covers you so that the wrath of God would pass over you, that you would get a new heart in the place of your hard heart, that you would partake, then, of Communion as an outward demonstration of faith in Jesus, that you would do so among Godís people, showing that youíre not just reconciled to the Father, but youíre adopted into the family, and youíre partaking it saying, "I am a sinner, and Jesus is my Savior, and I rejoice in his broken body and shed blood. Heís alive and well, and I know one day I will see him face-to-face, and until that day, I want to eat all my meals and live all my days as his friend, with his people, so that we can rejoice together, forever." Amen?

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