Jeremiah 15: 15-21 (Pentecost 13 – 2017)
“Taste The Word of the LORD”
His fishing crew caught their limit before breakfast. Before the catch of the day could be even cleaned, his fishing Guide had already prepared fish breakfast on beachside coals. The crew sat down to eat. After the meal, the Guide asked the fisherman: “Simon, son of John, do you truly love more than these?” Simon (Peter) replied: “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” That conversation repeated. By the third round Peter insisted: “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.” With each exchange Jesus chimed the theme of Christian ministry: “Feed my lambs … Take care of my sheep … Feed my sheep.” The risen Lord Jesus had restored the relationship with his student and friend. Peter’s denial of his Lord was erased by the voice of our forgiving Shepherd. With the taste of fish breakfast in his mouth Peter was beginning again to taste something far better: The LORD knows me. The Lord Loves Me. The Lord forgives me! He commissions me to feed his lambs that same recipe.
Generations before, the LORD spoke to another servant: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you … Now I have put my words in your mouth ... to uproot and tear down … to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1). Jeremiah was fed the Word in order to be one who would feed others. Jeremiah ate and was satisfied: “your words came and I ate them … they were my joy and my heart’s delight!”
The Lord God grows his kingdom by feeding people his truths. From his heart to the pens of his writers; from his pages to the ears and hearts of people, the Lord provides living bread for souls. He places teachers and learners at the same table of his Word. He invites us, even commands us, to taste those Words often. The Spirit then plants them deep into our souls. When we dine on the Word of the Lord, we taste that he knows us deeply and loves us unconditionally.
Taste That He Knows You
“You understand, O Lord …” Jeremiah’s first bite. You know me, Lord! Jeremiah’s confession reminds us of David in the Psalms: “O Lord you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise … before a word is on my tongue you know it completely.” (Psalm 139: 1-4).
The Lord knew everything about Jeremiah. He designed his mission. He knew about his enemies. He knew about his doubts. He knew about his conviction to remain faithful. He knew about his past. He knew about his future. He knew that his words must first be impressed on Jeremiah’s heart. Once filled by them he spoke to mobs of stiffened necks – whether they listened or not (Ezekiel 4:10).
Jeremiah thankfully did not join in with the disobedience around him: “I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them.”Jeremiah was certainly not claiming to be without sin. He was simply stating that the LORD had kept his feet from slipping into the wickedness that surrounded him. He had been strengthened to resist dining on the tables of idolatry – dining rooms of the filthy, crude behavior which promised temporal pleasures. He did not sit in the seat of mockers for his delight was in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1).
Our first bites of the Word are not so tasty, are they? It tastes awful to our sinful hearts to know that HE knows me so well. He knows my doubting, my weakness of heart; my lazy omissions of good things, the moments I have left the cross in order to eat at the junk food tables of this world. He knows my darkest secrets (David called them hidden faults – Psalm 19). Invitations to the tables of sin surround us; billboards, TV, peers and high speed social networks; they all are ringing their dinner bells to the tables that would satisfy our sinful lusts, laziness, and greed. Could we so readily say with Jeremiah “I never went there …”?
Our sinful heart looks at the Word like a five-year-old looks at Brussels sprouts after tasting chocolate. Ugh! Spend time tasting and chewing the Word of the Lord, anyway. Acquire a taste for repentance and an appreciation for bitter truths. The LORD, who saw Peter in the court yard as the rooster crowed, knows you. Each phrase points out how much God knows about us. It does us well to have a fork full of the knowledge that we deserve nothing but the bitter real taste of eternal damnation.
“You understand, Lord.” What a banquet of food for thought! As we continue to take more bites we taste and see that the Lord is good! He is the LORD who heals diseases and forgives all sins (Psalm 103:3). Keep chewing on that Word and we taste of the God who knows my needs and well provides them. Taste of the Heavenly Father who listens to our jumbled up prayers through the intercession of the Holy Spirit with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8). Taste the voice of the Lord Jesus who stood on a beach - arisen from the dead, open arms, hosting breakfast, who generously serves forgiveness of sins for the main course!
The depth of how much he knows us is so personally connected with how much he loves us.
Taste How He Loves You
Jeremiah knew that. The LORD said, “If you repent, I will restore you.” The LORD was no deceptive river bed or dried up spring. He promised to refresh his people. He promised to make Jeremiah a fortified wall in the face of obstinate crowds. He promised to save him from the hands of the wicked. He promised to purchase Jeremiah from the grasp of the cruel. And the Lord came through. Jeremiah’s life was spared several times over. The Word of the Lord fed those who would listen. Those whose hope was in the Lord (Isaiah 40:31) were blessed through loving discipline. Jeremiah was kept faithful to the Words which tasted “like joy and his heart’s delight.” He tasted the refreshing words of the LORD who loved him and his people dearly. That was an everlasting cool spring of water, not a dried up brook!
The Psalm writer sings: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). We, who have acquired a taste for the bitter truth of the law, now hunger for sweet solid food: the name of Jesus tastes good. The Lord who insists we consume the bitterness of the Law loves to wash it down with the Honey of his Son Jesus and soothing news his voice brings.
Consume that Word. As Peter said: “like newborns, crave spiritual milk” (1 Peter 2:2). The balanced diet of the Lord’s Word feeds kernels of divine love. He sets a table in the presence of our foes (Psalm 23). That table is filled with Jesus. That table is filled with spiritual songs which carry Jesus from the eternal heart of God to ours. A regular table is spread when, invited by his grace, we receive his body and blood together with bread and wine. How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in each believer’s ear. He has purchased us from the grasp of the cruel!
Meal by meal the Lord reveals his love. He creates our acquired taste for healthy truths. He produces resilience to the tables of the wicked. He pours out the sweet honey combs of our crucified and risen Jesus. Taste that Word often.
- Eat with Jesus who was tempted for you and resisted perfectly. (Matthew 4; Hebrew 4:15)
- Dine with the Holy Spirit who holds in your hand the shield of faith by which you can extinguish the arrows of Satan. (Ephesians 6:16)
- Taste the Father’s generosity who pours out the storehouse of blessing so full that we have no room in our homes to store them! (Malachi 3:10)
- Savor the Almighty Lord who unleashes holy angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91)
- Feast on a Savior-God who binds up the broken hearted, releases spiritual prisoners from guilt (Isaiah 61: 1), and by his resurrection from the grave opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers (Te Deum).
- Be fed by the Lord who gives strength for our crosses wherever they may appear for our good. (Romans 8:28)
- Taste the safety of a Shepherd who tends you like his own and holds you close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11.)
Today we are encouraged to learn what Jeremiah learned: the Word of the Lord tastes like joy and is our heart’s delight. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest that Word! Taste how much God knows you! Taste how deeply he loves you in Jesus! Amen.