Synopsis: The sermon reflects on the love of Christ and how it can fill a person’s hungry and tired soul. The story of Jesus cooking for his disciples in John 21 is discussed, where Jesus showed compassion for his disciples, who were lost and weary. I encourage you to find a quiet place to hear Jesus’ voice and to make time for spiritual food. God’s love and mercy are endless. God’s help and support will follow you on your journey.
Third Sunday after Epiphany, January 22nd, 2023, John 21:9-13
Pastor John Kim, Lakeridge Lutheran Church
May the love of Christ fill your hungry and tired soul.
When it rains and the weather is chilly, for dinner, the weather makes me have a hot soup. How about you? What kind of food do you like in this rainy and chilly season? I like to cook, and I am good at cooking. When I cook and serve it, my wife has never spit it out. Just kidding. Overall, she really enjoyed it. I am pretty good at cooking.
I can cook myself and my wife, Eugene, is also a good cook, so I really enjoy her cooking. However, sometimes I miss my mother’s cooking, especially her vegetable soup (kimchi soup). Well, honestly, my mother’s cooking wasn’t heavenly taste. Her dishes were very plain with simple ingredients, yet her dishes were so special. The most of ingredients were supplied from our garden. With the organic vegetable, she made all different kinds of sauces at home. Then, do I miss her dishes only for that reason? Because they were healthy diets with the home secret recipe? Of course not. My mom sometimes cooked instant noodles for me, and that was a heavenly taste. It seems that what I truly miss is my mother, my mother’s love, not only her cooking. The hot soup my mother cooked not only filled my starving stomach but also filled my empty heart.
In some sense, the souls of all of us might want such hot soup. And at the same time, those of us who are kind-hearted might want to offer some souls such hot soup. Through the Gospels today, God speaks to us. He knows our starving and weary hearts very well. He understands our needs very well. And at the same time, God expects us to be manna that can provide daily bread to the hungry.
I feel like I need to tell you about what the Gospel of John says. In John 21, Jesus was cooking for his disciples. With what kind of heart and with what feelings would Jesus prepare breakfast for his disciples?
He felt compassionate with his disciples. Jesus had already been resurrected, and he showed himself many times to his disciples. He also told them what to do next. Nevertheless, his disciples still got lost. They were like sheep without a shepherd. They were overwhelmed. Their hearts were weary. They didn’t know where to begin. Jesus totally understood them. A long and rough journey awaited them. Prior to the trip, Jesus prepared breakfast for them. He caught fish and cleaned it. And he brought the flour to bake bread. Jesus cooked fish over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
What would you like if you find a restaurant with great food and a fantastic atmosphere? Wouldn’t you like to go there with someone you love? Or you’ve just discovered a special recipe. And you now can cook something new and delicious dishes. With Whom do you want to have the special meal? Like all of you, I want to spend that precious time with the one I love and my family. When I cook, I compare and use several recipes. If one of them really works, I would eat the superb dishes with Eugene, expecting for chatting and laughing time with her.
Returning to the Bible story, Jesus felt sorry for his disciples. They toiled all night trying to catch fish on the Sea of Galilee, but they caught nothing. Dawn slowly began over the horizon. Jesus was watching them. He so missed his disciples so much and loved them so much. He would like to encourage his disciples not to depend on the world symbolized by the sea, yet to come back to him. Jesus shouted, “My friends! Did you catch something?” In that way, Jesus brought back their attention to him. He wanted them to return to him so that they could eat together, expecting them to find peace, love, hope, comfort, and Jesus himself.
Jesus sometimes finds me, working really hard for nothing. He is watching me who is trying hard and struggling to survive in this world, but not getting anything and wasting my time. Finally, Jesus beckons and calls me, saying: “Come to me, John. I have something to eat for you. Get some rest. Let’s eat together. Are these dishes good?”
Jesus is calling you. In Revelation 3, Jesus tells us: “I am here in front of the door of your heart. I knock on the door. When you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Do you have a safe place where you can hear His sweet voice? Do you have enough time when the endless competition and strife can stop and get some food for the soul? Do you have a place where you can taste the rich and superb spiritual food Jesus has prepared? Where is it? Is that a church where you can worship and join for the Holy Communion at this moment? Or is that at the study, library, or attic at your home, a time of meditation talking with God before doing all the work in the early morning?
God’s love and mercy are endless. Whether we become 80, 100, or even miraculously 180, His grace will be new every day. God’s unexpected help will surprise you. Our God will never disappoint you.
I know you all are busy. Yet, have some to eat before your work hard. Yes, I am speaking to you in spirit. I know very well that you have a long way to go on your journey. It could be a very rough journey. But don’t lose your heart. You are not alone on that journey. His steadfast love is always ahead of your journey. God’s help and support will follow you.
You may remember the story of Elijah (1 Kings Ch. 19). Elijah is in despair. He wants to die in the middle of the desert. As he starves, slowly dehydrates, and dies under the scorching heat, an angel suddenly appears. The angel bakes bread beside the dying Elijah, places a jug full of water by his side, gently massages Elijah’s tense muscles to wake him up, and says to him. “Elijah! Get up, drink some water, and eat some bread. I am afraid of losing you. Unless you eat this and drink this water, your journey ahead will be too much for you.”
There is bread and wine around me right now. I would like to finish this sermon today a little differently than before. If you don’t mind, I would like to distribute the sacrament with you personally and offer prayers of blessing and healing one-on-one. God has shown me his fathomless love. As I am a servant of God, I wish to pray over you for the abundant power of the Holy Spirit. As I distribute the sacrament to each of you and pray one-on-one, please meditate on today’s message until it is your turn.