Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,
When was the last time you celebrated a big family reunion? I remember numerous reunions, reconnecting with immediate and extended family for a few days. There was always conversation, fun, laughter, and something else of prime importance: great food. That was one of the best things at these gatherings. In our mobile society, it’s even harder for families to get together when so many miles separate us. Many months are spent ahead of time scheduling and planning and families need to prioritize it, save for it, and then decide to either fly or drive.
I’m delighted to see that many of you drove here today this Easter, joining together not only with family members but with the Body of Christ. During this sermon series, Promised Treasures, we have discussed how much God loves us by reaching out to touch us, not only through our ears with His Word, but also through our other physical senses like smelling, seeing, tasting, and feeling. We have touched ashes, salt, water, light, and wood. We have also tasted bread. Well, today you will taste milk and honey. When Israel longed for the food of the Promised Land, it was called the land of milk and honey. Families in the Bible often gathered for high feasts like Passover and Pentecost. Thousands of years later, we continue to celebrate feasts such as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.
Today, on this feast of feasts, we celebrate Jesus Christ conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave by His glorious resurrection from the dead. And through all of that, He promises you the ultimate prize, an eternal inheritance of heaven. Peter even calls it a new heaven and a new earth. In the Early Church, Easter Day was the first time newly baptized and instructed Christians ate and drank the Lord’s Supper. When new Christians were formally welcomed into the Church, they were greeted, given a holy kiss, and were congratulated for being released from the slavery of sin to be free children of God. However, right before their first Communion when they received the body and blood of Jesus, they were first given a cup of water mixed with milk and honey. This reminded those Christians that whenever you partake of the Lord’s Supper, you are also partaking in an eternal feast of the promised land of heaven.
Therefore, being in worship is a really big deal on Easter. It’s like a prodigal son returning to his waiting father where a rich feast is prepared. When someone is welcomed into God’s household of faith, it’s a family reunion and a time of feasting. The prophet Isaiah recalls a family reunion in today’s Old Testament reading: On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine (Isaiah 25:6). The banquet Isaiah describes is the eternal feast of heaven in which all of God’s people will partake someday. The reason why you’re invited to this glorious banquet today is because someone opened the door for you. That’s Jesus Christ, your crucified Lord, who isn’t dead but is risen and victorious! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Jesus has once and for all destroyed the “covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7). Jesus has swallowed up and beaten death forever by rising from the dead!
Heaven still awaits you, but heaven is never so far away that we can’t taste it. When someone confesses that they believe in Jesus Christ, they’ve already crossed over from death to life (see John 5:24). Also, you’re never closer to your loved ones in heaven than when we gather here to have Christ’s Supper. Why? Because we ‘ve crossed over from the river of death into life. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they were set free from death and slavery in Egypt. Then, when they crossed over the Jordan River, they entered the Promised Land of milk and honey.
Don’t miss out on the sweetness of this joyous day. Whenever you enter the threshold of this nave as His baptized child, you’ve crossed out of death into life because Jesus conquered sin and death for you! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
You’ve stepped out of your world and entered God’s world. Every single one of you has your share of death, pain, and sin outside these walls. You have trials and anxieties, but soon all that falls short compared to what heaven will be. Heaven is your promised land. It’s perfect and peaceful where the feast never ends. However, until we enter those eternal halls, we must live with the frailties of age, illness, and death. We live with broken and strained relationships. We live grieving a loved one who isn’t with us anymore. We live with job loss or a dissolved plan for education. We worry daily about family, home, or work. As a result, all of us long for rest while many troubles remain out of our control.
When God told Moses through the burning bush that he would lead God’s people out of slavery and into the Promised Land of milk and honey, Israel couldn’t wait to get there. However, it wasn’t long before they were sinful and rebellious. Additionally, many didn’t get to enter in because they blamed both God and Moses for their troubles. Until they entered the Promised Land, they didn’t like living in tents and moving whenever God told them to move. They were tired of the same food, longed for clean water, and wanted more variety. So, they grumbled, why did you bring us out of Egypt to die here, Moses? They were so angry that they were ready to stone Moses and tell God that life was better in Egypt.
Sometimes life feels long, and it’s easy to grow impatient. Where can I find rest from this problem? Where can I find the strength to move forward? It’s at those times you need God’s sweet milk and honey. Receive it where it’s offered: in God’s Word and Sacraments. Life is frustrating, making us think that we deserve more out of this life than what God provided. But do we want to sit in that rebellion? Only one thing is needed: the bread of life, Jesus Christ. Only He can feed your hungry soul in the wilderness as we await the promised land of heaven. Just as God gave Israel manna daily to survive in the wilderness, God still gives you the bread of life, Jesus. Your journey in this world isn’t complete until you die, or the Lord comes again. However, as you await the promised land of heaven, God promises to feed you every time you receive His Word and Sacrament.
Family reunions are great, but they never last. But God’s kingdom is eternal, and our ultimate victory is won. God offers you something to eat that is far better than anything the world offers. Here, you taste the fruit of the Promised Land, milk and honey. Eat from heaven’s Table now! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Your risen Lord gives you His life-giving Word and feeds your hungry soul with His body and blood. No earthly family reunion can beat that meal! Yes, go enjoy our Easter brunch and your Easter dinner with friends and family later, but remember nothing beats this feast of the promised land, giving you the foretaste of heaven. Amen.