God created us with an appetite which is essential for our physical survival. No one can survive without food. When we are hungry we eat, after some time we are hungry and we eat again, and the cycle goes on and we survive. Do you know that God has also created within our hearts a hunger that is spiritual? And Do you have an appetite for God? Do you shop at God’s supermarket for your spiritual nourishment?
This morning we are going to see how we can satisfy our spiritual hunger or the appetite We are also going to see how we can approach to partake from the Holy Communion.
Jesus said, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
Jesus here is speaking to a group of Jews who are following him for quite some time now. If you go back to the beginning of this chapter we will know why they were following Jesus. There was a great multitude following Jesus as they saw the signs he was performing on those who were sick. People followed him to receive healing and also to see some signs and miracles. Jesus, however, wanted to feed these people. Andrew, Jesus’ disciple saw a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish and brought them to Jesus.
Five loaves and Two breads
Jesus took the loaves and the fish, gave thanks and fed all 5000 men. When the people ate and saw this great sign of feeding 5000 men they wanted to make him king but Jesus quietly withdrew alone to the mountain.
The people now gathered around the disciples but by evening the disciples got into a boat and went towards Capernaum and there they went straight into a storm. Jesus seeing the struggling disciples walked through the sea, rescued the disciples and crossed over with them to Capernaum. Back on the shore the people waited and spent the night on the mountainside. In the morning they are confused as to where Jesus was.
24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
Jesus is telling that they are following him because he fed him the previous day and they are looking for more food. See what Jesus says to them:
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Jesus is telling to not just go to him for our physical, our earthly hunger, appetite or the needs; he can also give us food for our spiritual man, spiritual appetite or hunger, food for our eternal needs. Jesus is able to give us more than just our physical needs, so we need to work for the food that gives eternal life.
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
If you want the food for your spirit you need to believe in Jesus. They still did not get what Jesus was telling them.
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Now they are talking about another miracle. They are talking about the miracle the Lord did when he fed their forefathers in the desert with manna. Their thinking was it was Moses who met their appetite, who gave them food to eat in the desert and they are asking for something greater from Jesus because he is claiming to be the Son of God.
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus is making it very clear that it was not Moses who gave them bread in the wilderness but it was God. Jesus goes ahead to tell that the real bread of God is not manna but it is the bread that comes down from heaven. As Jesus was telling them about bread which is better than manna their mouth started watering, they were looking for something to eat from Jesus thinking about the manna that tasted like wafers with honey. They wanted something better and they wanted it then and there.
34Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
They all would have been let down because they wanted something to eat and their taste buds were watering and here Jesus is telling he is the bread of life.
Some Jews who were listening to this could not believe that Jesus was the bread from heaven as they saw him grow with his earthly parents and they began to grumble. The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus is in fact the bread from heaven and we need to get this right.
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus is telling he is the bread of life. Remember manna was for physical existence but Jesus the bread of life is for our spiritual existence. All those who ate manna died but all those who feed on Jesus, the bread from heaven will not die.
Now Jesus is announcing the menu for the bread from heaven.
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. So the menu is flesh and blood. The primary course of food for our spiritual menu is the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Then if you want some multivitamins and calcium I would say you need to read the Bible, pray, fast, and have fellowship with saints.
The Jews thought that Jesus was going to cut himself and give them his flesh to eat. The Jews thought it was cannibalism. Jesus is not supporting cannibalism. The flesh and the blood are not for our physical hunger but for our spiritual hunger.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 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. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Now to feed on Jesus is to recognize the body and the blood of Jesus Christ, that he died for me and he has taken my sins upon him.
So when do we actually eat of the blood and body of Christ?
Not communion, not baptism, but the day of our salvation. That day we receive Christ as our savior, the day we believe that Jesus came into this world for me and understand the price he had to pay to redeem us was his body and his blood, we partake from that living bread. Eternal life comes into us and we will never die.
Think about the bread and the blood. Bread sustains life. God provided manna in the desert which sustained their life in the wilderness. His body is the bread. The body of Jesus is essential for our physical and spiritual sustenance. Blood is life. When Jesus’ blood was shed, His life was being poured out; all who kneel at the foot of the cross receive that life. Are you washed in the blood?
The Jews did not get this message in Jesus’ day, but we do now! It’s not about really eating that flesh and drinking that blood; it is to believe in Jesus and His sacrifice.
If you have not yet had the life-changing experience of accepting Jesus into your lives or if you have not yet partaken from the table prepared by God on Calvary I would invite you to come to the table. How do you come to the table? Just as you are! Anyone can partake. It is welcome to all who come to him. Are you ready to believe Jesus and accept him into your life today? Are you ready to feed on this spiritual food which will give you life and eternal life?
The Next Step
Once we believe Jesus and have partaken by faith from his table then we need to go to the next level of receiving water baptism. Remember Holy Communion is only for the ones who have already partaken from the table at Calvary or who have accepted Christ and are baptized. For all those who have accepted Him in baptism, Jesus is calling us again to His table.
No one gets saved or eternal life by partaking in Holy Communion. Taking of the elements does not save anyone. When we take the bread and the wine, we thank God for the real body which died for us. Listen, anyone can come to Jesus and accept his bread and blood or believe in Him just as they are. However, when we come and participate in the communion there are requirements to be met before we partake.
How do we Approach the Holy Communion? while watching the Spiritual Appetite.
Very simple, how do we set for a meal at home? We just do not go to the market or do the gardening or play with our pets and come and eat lunch at our dining table. We prepare and cleanse ourselves to eat a meal.
1. Clean Hands to Whet the Appetite
Have a clear conscience
We always teach our kids before a meal to clean their hands. We need to have clean hands before we partake of the Lord’s table.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
Clean hands mean – he whose conscience is clear; whose heart is without deceit and uninfluenced by unholy passions.
How do we know we are clean? Only when we examine ourselves we do know the dirt in us.
1 Corinthians 11:28
Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. When we examine ourselves we may see something that needs to be cleaned up, confessed. Ask God to cleanse us.
2. Good Appetite in a Right Manner
We need a good spiritual appetite to partake from the Lord’s Table.
My mom and dad stay above us and our children spend a lot of time with them. Many times we would have made our children’s favorite food and invite them to the table. They come with great enthusiasm and expectation to eat their best food but all they can eat is a bite or two. Where is their appetite? Oh! They ate something from top and are not able to relish what daddy and mummy made for them.
Many of us partake from the Lord’s Table likewise. We feed ourselves with the things and patterns of the world that we do not have any spiritual appetite.
1 Corinthians 10:21
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. When we stuff ourselves with the junk food of sin we lose our appetite for the banquet God has prepared for us.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. God wants to fill us but we need to have a hunger and thirst for what is right. Have a good appetite for God.
3. Patience at the Table to whet the Appetite
We need time to enjoy the moment.
Do you remember dining with some people with a bigger appetite where they are too fast at eating and you cannot just catch up with their pace? By the time you are half done they have already finished leaving us embarrassed. They do not have patience and hurry everyone else around them.
Do not rush with the Lord’s Table. Take time to enjoy the Lord’s Table.
4. Unity at the Table to Whet the Appetite
We need to come together with one heart and mind.
Over the years of our ministry we have come across so many different families and lifestyles of people. In some families, the elders eat first and then the women and children. Then there are other families where the mother has to prepare the food and wait for everyone’s preferred time. People eat when they want and the poor mother is standing alone in the kitchen catering to everyone’s needs.
Then there are other families who serve the food on the table but they eat in front of the TV. There is no unity or fellowship in all these patterns of eating. Then there are other families where the meal is served in the dining table, someone prays, everyone serves each other wait for each other and talk and enjoy the meal. We practice this at home and what a satisfaction we get eating together with the family.
1 Corinthians 10:17
For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
We need unity when we come to the table. I am not telling that we will not have disagreements in the church or sometimes people face problems with one another. In spite of all disagreements if at all, we are one in Christ. What unites us is greater than what divides us.
5. Be Grateful
Jesus gave thanks, and so we should give thanks for the Lord’s sacrifice.
Do not take the Lord’s Table for granted. God provided manna, miraculous food, to the Jewish nation in the wilderness, and all they did was complain. We need to appreciate the cost of this meal. Jesus has prepared a meal for us that cost Him His life. We should appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus; otherwise, we miss the whole point of this meal!
We come month after month and partake from the Lord’s Table. This is nourishment to the spiritual appetite and strength for us…but strength for what? What is the purpose? God would have us to be energized for a purpose, and that is to serve Him with all our heart, mind and strength.
Many Christians partake from the Lord’s Table and do not do anything for the Lord and get into a sleep mode, then the next month they awaken and partake from the Table again What will happen if we just fill our appetite, well eat and sleep then get up and fill your appetite, eat again? We get fatter and fatter. Also, we eat food and burn it up. We need to use this spiritual energy to share the gospel to others, participate in church programs, take leadership positions, to pray. Do not sit idle after receiving the communion. God has given you the communion for us to be strengthened in our spirit and work more effectively for Him.
Now I do not want anyone who has been saved and baptized to keep away from the communion. Remember when we were kids, we occasionally had to go to bed without supper because we did something bad. But when we come to Jesus with remorse and repentance, we find forgiveness, restoration, and an invitation to His table. Some people get so burdened by their sins, that instead of asking forgiveness, they figure they’re too unworthy to participate, and they pass the tray without partaking. None of us are worthy, but if we’ve trusted Christ, we are eligible. Just ask him to cleanse you and never go back to your sin again. He invites all of us to come to the table.
1 Corinthians 11:26-32
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason, many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Let’s all examine ourselves, asking the Lord to examine us and show us any unconfessed sin in our life. Let us give thanks to the Lord for His body and blood.
1 Corinthians 11:23-24
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
1 Corinthians 11:25
In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Let us thank God for strengthening us through the Lord’s Table.