John 6:32-35 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.
Sometimes it is necessary to speak of the basics. Problem is that we donít always remember what the basics are. The scriptures teach, "with food and raiment therewith be content." Those sound like the basics to me. And yet the question remains, what is it that we need to feed? It is not hard to remember to feed the body, it tells us clearly when it is hungry and thirsty. But we are not just body, we are body and soul, it is what make us different from all the rest of creation, God made us special, God gave us an immortal soul. We know all sorts of ways to train and discipline the body, and many spend a great deal of time "keeping in shape." It would seem reasonable that they would also give such attention to their soul. But there is a curious thing, for all the workout tapes and programs, I have yet to see a set of spiritual exercises for the soul, not that it isnít necessary, but it isnít much spoken ofÖ
Where would we look for spiritual exercises? Where else but the Word of God? And one such exercise is that we examine ourselves before we come to the Lordís Table. One of the reasons why people donít like to spiritually examine themselves, is while there outward body might be in fine shape, their soul is weak, fat and flabby, and just looking at its state is enough to make one sick. It seems so hopeless, and so many just give up, and it seems a cure, for son the soul gets quite skinny, before long its just skin and bonesÖ but this isnít the answer either, there is no muscle, and it is not able even to stand up against the smallest of temptations. Not a good situation!
And so it is that we turn to God, seeing our state, seeing that by ourselves it is all impossible, and we ask Godís grace, mercy and forgiveness. We ask God to put us in shape and to give health to our soul. We ask God to help us to change our wicked ways, and to lead us to follow in that path that leads to heaven, to help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to follow him.
And we find ourselves prepared to come to the Lordís Supper, not because we have made such progress, or because we have accomplished so much. But we are ready and prepared when we see our sins, and see the need to mend our ways and receive forgiveness for the wrongs we have done. We come to the Lordís table for forgiveness, but even more we come to the Lordís Table for the food which nourishes the soul, which helps us to grasp and believe the promises which have already come to us in the Lord of God, that Jesus died for our sins, that we might be forgiven, given a new life, and given peace with God.
In some ways, it is so simple, just as the body needs food and drink, so does the soul. And if our need was not enough to drive us to the altar, we have the command of our Lord, come, eat drink, and do this often, for the forgiveness of our sins.
We know about the water of life, we find it in the waters of baptism, the waters which wash away our sins, and which make us a new creation. And we are cleansed each time we remember our baptism and the promise of forgiveness it gives and seals to us.
But the bread of life, that is for eating, it is the food for the soul, it strengthens and nourishes, just as it too offers and gives to us the forgiveness of sins. But more than that, it gives life, so whether your soul is flabby and out of shape, or just skin and bones, come and receive life, and healing. Come for the power to change the old ways. Come for the grace to live by faith in the promises of God. Come, and learn more about the Savior who has loved you so deeply, and who has brought to you a full and complete salvation.